Education Benefit FAQs

 

I have question/concerns about specific payments made to me by the VA. Who should I contact?

Why haven’t I received my stipend checks yet?

I am a non-resident student and wish to attend WSU. Will the Post 9/11 GI Bill cover my tuition?

How long until the VA pays my Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition and fees?

How does the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing stipend work?          

Will my VA education benefits pay for every class that I want to take?

When do I have to declare a major?

How do I receive my benefits via direct deposit?

How do I change my address with the VA? 

What is the deal with Tuition Assistance?

What is the deal with tuition waivers?

I am attending the Spokane campus or working towards a WSU degree at another school. How is the chapter 33 housing stipend calculated in this situation?

How can I find out how many months of education benefits I have remaining?

My GI Bill will be exhausted in mid-semester. Will the VA pay for the whole semester?

I think I'm FAILING one, or more, or my classes!  What should I do?

What happens if I receive a failing grade?

Can I retake classes to improve my G.P.A.?

Do I really have to go to class?

 

 

 

 

 

I have question/concerns about specific payments made to me by the VA. Who should I contact?

    For matters dealing with specific payments or bank accounts, the student needs to contact the VA directly through their Education Benefits hotline, 1-888-442-4551.  The VA will not discuss a student’s personal payment issues with the WSU Veterans Coordinator, as this constitutes a violation of the Federal Privacy Act.

 

 

Why haven’t I received my stipend checks yet?

    - Have you properly established your benefit...If you are a dependent, has your sponsor formerly transferred the benefit to you (Post 9/11 GI Bill), Have you applied for the benefit (i.e filled out a form 22-1990 or 22-5490, this applies to everyone, including dependents) and received a certificate of eligibility from the VA?  Have you submitted an Enrollment Certification Request to the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs, thereby notifying us of your intentions to use your benefit?

    - For chapters 30, 1606 and 1607, has your monthly enrollment certification been accomplished through WAVE or through the verification hotline at 1-877-823-2378?

    - Has enough time passed since the Office of Veterans Affairs certified your enrollment? Two to eight weeks is the typical timeframe.  Longer processing times occur at the beginning of semesters because of increased workloads.

 

 

I am an out of state student and wish to attend WSU. Will the Post 9/11 GI Bill cover my tuition?

     No, The Post 9/11 GI Bill will only pay the costs associated with in-state enrollment.  WSU does participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program however. This program is designed to help offset the extra costs associated with attending school as a non-resident. It will reduce your extra tuition costs by $1300 per year and is applied to your Fall semester tuition bill.  Please notify the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs if you wish to participate. There are a limited number of slots; available on a first come first serve basis.

     The laws concerning Veterans and residency for purposes of tuition, are evolving.  Currently, a Veteran who has served at least 2 years, receives and honorable discharge, enters an institution of higher learning within 1 year of discharge, and demonstrates intent to establish Washington residency by acquiring a WA driver's license or vehicle registration, is eligible for resident tuition rates immediately.

    True WA residency can be established in 12 months, while attending school.  Please visit the WSU residency page for details.

 

 

How long until the VA pays my Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition and fees?

    Typically your tuition and fees will be paid 9-10 weeks after the first day of class.  Tuition late fees are waived for chapter 33 students.  Please note that, if applicable, any available financial aid and/or grant money will be applied to your tuition bill on the first day of the semester.  When the Chapter 33 money arrives, if it creates a credit (due to financial aid, grants, or early student payment already paying tuition) the excess VA money will be applied to your housing payment plan and housing dining services accounts, if applicable.  Any money left over after that will be refunded to the student.

 

How does the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing stipend work?

     The housing stipend, also known as the monthly housing allowance (MHA), is based on the DoD's cost of living assessment for the zip code of the university.  This is completely independent of what a school's housing office and local rental agencies may charge for housing.  In other words, your MHA may, or may not, cover your actual living expenses.

     MHA payments typically arrive on the first of the month and pay for the previous month.  MHA payments are also prorated if a student was not in school for the entire month in question.   

 

Will my VA education benefits pay for every class that I want to take?

    No. Only classes that will fulfill a requirement for your degree program can be reported to the VA for the purpose of determining your rate of pursuit. 

 

When do I have to declare a major?

    The VA requires that you notify them (through the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs) of your major before beginning the next semester after you reached your sixtieth credit hour.  If you later wish to change your major you will need to submit a form 22-1995 or 22-5495 (dependents) to the VA and provide the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs with a copy as well.

 

 

How do I receive my benefits via direct deposit?

    Direct deposit authorizations can be initiated at the time of application.  To update, change or add direct deposit information call: 1-877-838-2778.  The WAVE web site can also be used to update direct deposit and address information

 

 

How do I change my address with the VA?

    Address changes can be accomplished by calling 1-888-442-4551. The WAVE web site can also be used to update address and direct deposit information.

 

 

What is the deal with Tuition Assistance?

    Tuition Assistance is administered by the services.  Contact your unit or base education office for procedures to establish the benefit, and information on current payment rates and rules.  When you receive a Tuition Assistance Authorization form, please provide the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs with a copy; we will make sure that it is applied to your student account.

 

 

What is the deal with tuition waivers?

    - Veterans: If you are a resident of the state of Washington, and recieved an "Honorable" discharge from the military, you may be eligible for an up to 50% tuition waiver.  There are additional requirements and details.  To fully review the waiver program, and download an application, please visit the Tuition Waivers page or get in contact with the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs.

    - Dependents: If you are a dependent or spouse of a service member with a 100% service connected disability, or of a service member that was killed in action, was a POW, or is missing in action; and is a Washington resident, or was a resident at the time of their death, you may be eligible for a 100% tuition waiver. There are additional requirements and details.  To fully review the waiver program, and download an application, please visit the Tuition Waivers page or get in contact with the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs.

    *The tuition wiaver programs are provided by the state of Washington and are administered separately from the VA education benefits. Participation in tuition waiver programs will have an effect on your financial aid entitlement.

 

 

I am attending the Spokane campus or working towards a WSU degree at another school. How is the chapter 33 housing stipend calculated in this situation?

    The VA pays the housing stipend based on the zip code of the degree granting school, not, necessarily, the school where classes are taken.  All Chapter 33 recipients receive the housing stipend based on the Pullman zip code, 99164.

 

 

How can I find out how many months of education benefits I have remaining?

    Veterans and Service members using Chapter 33 benefits can obtain this information at the ebenefits web site. Chapter 33 dependent students and recipients of all other GI Bill benefits must call the VA Education Benefit hotline, at 1-888-442-4551, to receive an updated status of their remaining eligibility.

 

 

My GI Bill will be exhausted in mid-semester. Will the VA pay for the whole semester?

    It depends. If you are about to use up your original 36 months, the VA will pay for the rest of the semester. If you have combined your benefits (for example, exhausted your 36 month Chapter 30 benefit, and was approved to use Chapter 33 for another 12 months) and will exceed your 48th month during the semester, then the VA will only make payments up to the last day of that 48th month.

    If you are a dependent, there is no exceeding the 36th month of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and payments will stop in mid semester if your eligibility is exhausted. Similarly, Chapter 35 Dependent Education Assistance students may not exceed the 45 month limit of their benefit, except under rare circumstances which must be approved by the VA.

    A dependent student may combine his or her Post 9/11 GI Bill and their Chapter 35 benefit. This could yield a maximum of 81 (!) months of combined eligibility (up to 36 from the GI Bill and 45 from DEA). The deliminating date of the GI Bill and the age restriction of the DEA still apply though.

 

 

I think I'm FAILING one, or more, of my classes!  What should I do?

This is a long answer, but hang in there because there is a lot to consider:

Option 1: Stay in the Class(s)

This is usually the best option for most students, unless you’re already on academic probation and can’t risk another failing grade.   With a little tutoring and some extra study time, you may end up passing the class after all!  If you don’t pass, you can probably repeat it, and it is usually easier the second time around.

Effect on VA benefits: usually nothing.  If you stay in the class all the way to the end, you don’t have to pay money back, whether you pass or fail.  The main thing is that you tried.  The Veterans Affairs Office may require some additional documentation for your VA records to prove that you stayed in your class to the end (see below) so be sure to check with your School Certifying Official after your grade is posted. If you end up repeating the class more than twice, you may have to pay back benefits for the first or second (or more) unsuccessful attempts.

Effect on GPA: potentially significant.  Your current-term GPA is determined by calculating a numeric value for your letter grade, multiplied by the number of units (credits) for your class to get your grade points for the class.  Add up the total grade points for all your classes in the term and divide by the total units you attempted in that term to get the Grade Point Average (GPA) for the term.  Your cumulative GPA is calculated the same way, but with your total points divided by your total units.  An “F” grade is assigned a value of zero, which is an instant GPA killer, especially if you haven’t taken many classes yet.  It can take a long time and a lot of hard work to drag that GPA back up again.  Be advised that WSU has a “grade forgiveness policy” that will let you repeat the class and remove the former grade from your GPA calculations.  Just be sure to discuss this with your academic advisor.

 

Option 2: Drop the class(s)

If you are concerned about the damage that a bad grade can do to your GPA, or if your class is consuming so much of your time that you can’t focus on your other classes and are at risk of failing them all, then dropping a class may be your best option, if there’s still time to drop.  The deadline for each semester is noted on the academic calendar.  

Effect on VA benefits: potentially significant, particularly if you drop below full time.  If your drop will take you down to part-time status, you will have to pay back some of your monthly housing allowance, either back to the day you stopped attending class, or all the way back to the beginning of the term, depending on your circumstances.  If you will still be a full-time student after the drop the reduction will probably not affect your benefits at all.  This is even true of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, because WSU charges a flat tuition rate from 10 to 18 credits.  If, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you drop below 10 credits you will be required to pay back a portion of the VA's tuition payment. Depending on your situation, this could potentially add up to thousands of dollars, especially if the monthly housing allowance is reduced. The Chapter 33 book stipend is also based on course load and will have to be paid back for every credit dropped. Be sure to discuss this with the WSU Office of Veterans Affairs.  If you decide to take the drop and get charged for the overpayment, you can always make repayment arrangements with the VA, and set up a payment plan.

Effect on GPA: Nothing.  WSU does not have an academic penalty for dropping a class.

 

Option 3: Stop going to class(s)

This is probably the worst thing you could do.  The VA considers “not attending” the same as if you had formally dropped, so you’ll still have to pay back some of your benefits.  In addition, if you don’t go to class, you’ll probably end up failing, so your GPA will suffer as well.

Effect on VA benefits: potentially significant

Effect on GPA: potentially significant

 

Option 4: Incomplete grade

If you are struggling in class because of an extenuating circumstance – such as an undiagnosed learning disability, military orders that caused you to miss several classes, an extended illness or hospitalization, a family emergency, etc. – you may be able to request an “incomplete” grade from your instructor, which will grant you some extra time to finish the course, and take the pressure off.  If your professor agrees, you will need to work out the details with him/her about what exactly you will need to do to complete the class, and how long you will have to do so.  If you complete the course requirements on time, your incomplete grade will change to the grade you’ve earned.  If you fail to complete the course before the deadline, you may be automatically assigned a failing grade, a withdraw grade, or the grade you had in the class at the time your instructor extended the deadline, depending on your college’s policies.  

 

Effect on VA benefits: usually nothing.  If you complete the course and earn a grade, your benefits will remain unaffected.  If you don’t complete the course and earn a letter grade (or a “punitive” withdraw grade), your benefits are still unaffected.  If you don’t complete the course and your incomplete converts to a “non-punitive” withdraw, then you will have to pay back benefits as though you had fomally dropped the course.  The catch: depending on how your college converts incomplete grades, your School Certifying Official may have to report the incomplete grade to the VA as a “drop” initially, and then re-certify it when you complete the course.  So you may end up temporarily owing money to the VA while you are finishing the class.

Effect on GPA: it depends on your final grade, but you will have more time to complete the work, and hopefully you’ll earn a better grade than if you tried to tough it out.  If you have the option to take an incomplete grade, this may be the best option.  Just make sure that you dedicate the necessary time to complete the course requirements and get it turned in.  Some people procrastinate and miss the deadline, so don’t let that happen to you.

One more thing to consider: if you are receiving scholarships or financial aid, you may be subject to additional restrictions on course load and GPA.  Be sure to talk to your financial aid counselor if you are in this situation.

The bottom line is that every student’s situation is different, and you need to weigh and discuss your options with the experts on your campus.  It’s far better to know all your alternatives and make an informed decision, than to simply “let things happen.”  You may find that there are additional resources on your campus that can help you if you choose to stick with it.  Good luck!

 

 

What happens if I receive a failing grade?

    If a failing (“F”) grade is received in a course, the VA will only be notified if the cause of the failing grade is lack of class attendance or lack of completing assignments.  Each semester the academic progress of VA students will be monitored for “F” grades. A letter will be sent to each veteran student who receives an “F” grade asking the student state the nature of the grade. Veteran students are required to state whether they completed the class and received the “F” on the basis of work completed, or if they received the failing grade based on lack of class attendance or participation. In the latter case, they must indicate the month and the day they last attended and/or stopped participating.

     The reason for the “F” grade will be noted in the student’s file. No further action will be necessary for those who received a “F” grade based on work completed in the class. If the “F” grade is a result of non-attendance, the VA will be notified of the last date of attendance reported by the student and the VA will reduce the student’s units and pay rate effective the date the student indicated as the last date of attendance.

     If veteran students do not return the letter as directed, the VA certifying official will follow VA regulations and automatically report the last date of attendance for the “F” grade as the last official date to drop the course.

 

 

Can I retake classes to improve my G.P.A.?

    You may repeat a course and receive VA payment for it if you received an “F”, “NP” or “W” grade on the original attempt. The VA does not pay for repeats of “D” or better grades; or for incomplete grades, unless the Incomplete is changed to an “F” grade. EXCEPTION: When a class is required for a major and must be passed with a certain grade level to progress to another required class (prerequisite) then the VA will pay for the repeat.

 

 

Do I really have to go to class?

    If you don’t attend class, you are not entitled to benefits.  If a student stops attending a class they must drop officially with the college and report the drop to the VA certifying official. This is a student responsibility – not ours. Federal law requires that students report any change in enrollment status, which might affect their VA education benefits to the school and the VA. Your signature on the Supplemental Application form shows acceptance of the responsibility to keep the VA certifying official informed of any change in student status.

     When there is an overpayment, the VA will ask for repayment of the overpaid benefits. If you ignore the VA’s request, they can withhold future GI bill payments, disability payments, or depending upon the situation, they can take a student to court, charge interest, and they may take future tax return refunds, attach wages, put legal holds on property or deny home loans.

    The VA certifying official monitors student enrollment on a weekly basis via myWSU automated reports and updated enrollment statuses are regularly sent to the VA. When adding or dropping classes, the student must report the drop or add directly to the VA certifying official.