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What must I do at the start of every semester?
You must meet with an academic advisor or staff from the Veterans Resource Center to register for classes, and sign the appropriate paperwork ( Veterans Benefit Intent Form (PDF) ), letting the VA know that you are intending to use benefits.
Whom should I contact about questions or concerns about specific payments made to me by the VA?
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 MCCC Veterans Coordinator, as this constitutes a violation of the Federal Privacy Act.
Why haven't I received my stipend check(s) 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 VA Benefits and received a certificate of eligibility from the VA? Have you submitted a supplemental application to the MCCC Veterans Resource Center, 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'm an out-of-state student and I wish to attend Montco. 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. However, with a new PA state law that has passed, if you live in the state at the start of the semester, you are eligible for in-county tuition rates at Montgomery County Community College.
How long before 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.
How does the post-9/11 GI Bill 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 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 Veterans Resource Center) of your major at the start of classes. 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 Veterans Resource Center 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.
How do I change my address with the VA?
Address changes can be accomplished by calling 1-888-442-4551.
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 Montco with a copy; we will make sure that it is applied to your student account.
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 website. 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 mid-semester. Will the VA pay for my 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. Payments will stop 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 that must be approved by the VA.
A dependent student may combine his or her Post 9/11 GI Bill and 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 eliminating date of the GI Bill and the age restriction of the DEA still apply.
I think I'm failing one or more 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(es) - 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 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. Just be sure to discuss this with your academic advisor.
- Option 2: Drop the class(es) -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 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
Effect on VA benefits: Potentially significant, particularly if you drop below full-time student status. 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'll still be a full-time student after the drop, the reduction probably won't affect your benefits. If, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you drop below 12 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 Veterans Resource Center staff. 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.
- Option 3: Stop going to class(es) -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. Additionally, 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
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 to state the reason for 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 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 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 GPA?
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 he 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 that 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, take future tax return refunds, attach wages, put legal holds on property or deny home loans.
When adding or dropping classes, the student must report the drop or add directly to the VA certifying official.