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Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill cannot pay for Study Abroad

Effective August 1, 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is changing their policies and procedures relating to paying for Post 9/11 GI benefit recipients’ study abroad tuition and fees. The VA will only pay for courses abroad for benefit recipients if these courses are required for graduation. No longer will students be able to fill electives or other requirements for their degree by going abroad if they can fulfill the requirement at their home campuses. 

LIST OF PROGRAMS NOT COVERED BY VA EDUCATION BENEFITS

-All Non-credit programs including but not limited to Executive Coaching and Cybersecurity Professional

-All undergraduate certificates with the exception of: Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Cert

-All professional development certificates

-Dual degree Engineering Program

- LLM Legislation (Washington College of Law)

LIST OF PROGRAMS CURRENTLY IN REVIEW FOR VA APPROVAL:

 Bachelor of Arts Programs: Chinese Studies; Liberal Studies; 

Masters Programs: Neuroscience (MS); Sociology, Research, and Practice (MA); Teaching (MAT) [Urban Teachers] ;International Affairs Policy Analysis (MA) and Business Administration (Dual Degree)

Graduate Certificate Programs: Cyber Policy & Management; Marketing Analytics; European Studies ; Social Innovation for Global Impact; Training Design and Facilitation

All courses not taken at American University’s main campus located in Washington, D.C. excluding online courses, are currently under review for VA approval. If you are planning to enroll in a program that is taught at an American University subsidiary site (including Study Abroad) please confirm with the Veteran Services office before enrolling in that program.

How will my VA Education benefits be impacted by AU's shift to limited in-person courses and the continuance of online courses for the Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 semester?

Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill:

Students receiving Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits will not see a noticeable impact on tuition payments made from the VA to AU towards their tuition and fees expenses. The only payment that will be impacted is the Monthly Housing Allowance since AU will begin the semester one week later on January 19, 2020 and end on May 7, 2021.

Housing Allowance:

"President Trump signed into law S. 3503, March 21, which will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The law gives VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies, allowing for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training. In addition, GI Bill students will continue receiving the same monthly housing allowance payments they received for resident training until Dec. 21, or until the school resumes in-person classes."

Based on AU's plan to offer both online and limited in-person classes only for Spring 2021 and the legislation passed by Congress noted above, Veteran Services will certify enrollment to the VA as residential if your Spring 2021 or Summer 2021 courses were originally scheduled to be in-person or hybrid. Students in online programs or taking historically online classes will continue to be certified as online and receive the online housing allowance.

"Special COVID rules extended to December 21, 2021 With the passage of H.R.8337 - Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, the special COVID rules have been extended. Post 9/11 GI Bill students who pursue resident courses converted to an online modality solely due to COVID 19 will continue to receive the MHA rate for resident training."

Chapter 31 Veterans Readiness and Employment Services VR&E:

Students with an approved contract (purchase order) will continue to have tuition, fees and other approved expenses paid by VR&E.

Monthly Stipend (Subsistence Pay):

Based on AU's plan to offer both online and in-person classes for Spring and Summer 2021 and the legislation passed by Congress noted above, Veteran Services will certify enrollment to the VA as residential if your Spring 2021 and/or Summer 2021 courses were originally scheduled to be in-person or hybrid.

Chapter 30, Chapter 35, and Chapter 1606 VA Education Benefits:

Students receiving Chapter 30, Chapter 35, and Chapter 1606 VA Education benefits will not see a noticeable impact on their VA Education Benefits. Veteran Services can continue to submit enrollment information to the VA and students will continue to receive a monthly payment from the VA based on this enrollment. The length of the semester has been reduced by one week which will slighly change the monthly payment received for your January payment. 

How will my VA Education benefits be impacted by American University changing the start day of the Spring semester from January 11th to January 19th?

To support the health and safety of our community, American University will be cancelling spring break this year and starting the Spring 2021semester a week later than usual on January 19, 2021.

Chapter 33 (Post-9/11 GI Bill and Chapter 31 (VR&E)

Since the Spring 2021 semester will be one week shorter than normal, this will impact students who are expecting to receive a monthly housing allowance (MHA)or Subsistence Pay as determined by their VA education benefits eligibility. Please be prepared to receive one week less of MHA/Subsistence Pay during the Spring semester and plan accordingly.

Chapter 30, 35 or 1606

Students who receive VA funding through Chapter 30, 35 or 1606 will receive a smaller January payment due to starting classes one week later. 

If you are anticipating to be adversely impacted by this change in payments, please reach out to American University’s Office of Financial Aid to explore what options might be available to assist you.

You can contact your Financial Aid Counselor directly (https://www.american.edu/financialaid/contact.cfm) or email their office at financialaid@american.edu

Will the AU Community of Care spring tuition discount impact my VA Education benefits eligibility?

This tuition discount positively impacts your VA Education benefits as AU will request less funding from the VA further stretching your GI Bill cap eligibility each GI bill year

Can I participate in the VA Work Study Program?

For the Spring 2021 semester VA Work Study Participation at AU Central-Veteran Services will be limited to students who have participated in the VA Work Study program in past semesters.

New students to the VA Work Study program are encouraged to complete the VA Work Study Application and submit this application the the VA Regional Processing Office to see if other VA Work Study opportunities are available remotely or in the surrounding area.

VA Work Study will be unavailable for Summer 2021. Veteran Services is continuing to assess what the VA Work Study program will look like for Fall 2021 as plans for the Fall 2021 semester are finalized. 

How might my VA Education Benefit be impacted by electing to convert an assigned grade to the Pass/Fail grading basis?

Summary of Pass/Fail grading changes:

American University has decided to extend a partial Pass/Fail option to most American University students during the Spring 2021 semester. This partial option would allow (1) most undergraduate student to convert one additional course from an A-F grade to a Pass/Fail grade (or vice versa) after each semester is complete and final grades have been posted and (2) most graduate students to convert one course from an A-F grade to a Pass/Fail grade after each semester is complete and final grades have been posted. Undergraduate and graduate students will be able to exercise this option during a set 5-day period after grades post. Once this window is closed, you will no longer be able to execute a grade type change. 

What happens if I convert an assigned grade to the Pass/Fail grading basis and receive a PASSING grade?

A “Pass” on a Pass/Fail course will not impact your VA Education benefits.

What happens if I convert an assigned grade to the Pass/Fail grading basis and receive a FAILING (FZ) grade?

 If a student Fails a Pass/Fail course (FZ) grade, this is considered a non-punitive grade by the VA. An FZ grade is not factored into your GPA and does not fulfill a requirement for graduation. Therefore, this grade would be reported and processed by the VA like a withdrawn course. When we report a Fail from a Pass/Fail course (FZ) grade, this may cause a debt on your account as the VA will not pay for non-punitive grades.

If you receive Yellow Ribbon funding, AU requires you are passing Satisfactory Academic Progress to remain eligible for this funding. Please speak with a financial aid counselor for more information on how switching to Pass/Fail may impact your account and the calculation to determine Satisfactory Academic Progress.

For Chapter 31 Veterans Readiness & Employment students: A student should speak with his or her VR&E case manager.

What if I need to retake a class that I did not receive a high enough grade for?

If a program requires a higher grade than the one achieved in a particular class for successful completion, that class may be repeated and certified to VA again.

  • Example 1: if a Nursing program requires a “B” or better in Biology, then that class may be repeated if a “B” or better was not earned. That requirement must be in the school catalog.
  • Example 2: If a course is required for graduation, a student may repeat the course and be certified for it until it is successfully completed. No further information needs to be provided to VA regarding those courses.
  • Example 3: If a student chooses to repeat a course that was successfully completed, just to improve their GPA, that course cannot be certified to VA.

I currently have a VBA benefit debt with the VA and I am not able to pay due to financial hardships from COVID-19. What options do I have? 

"On April 3, 2020 the VA suspended all debt notification and collection to ease financial difficulty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that if you incurred a new debt with the VA on or after April 3, 2020, you should expect to receive a debt notification soon within the next several months, starting in January 2021. If you had a debt that was established prior to April 3, 2020, the VA suspended your debt but as of January 1, 2021 has ended your suspension and will resume withholding from your VA benefits to repay the debt effective with your February 1, 2021 VA benefit statement. If you are no longer receiving VA benefits your debt is due to the VA DMC on February 1, 2021."

Click here for more information and a list of options to help resolve your debt 

Additional Resources:

COVID-19 Resources for GI BIll Students

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, U.S Department of Veterans Affairs Facebook Page

Student Veterans of America

The House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs

Federal Student Aid Information (including Student Loans)

Previous Changes Recent Changes Changes to Come
There is no longer an expiration date
Purple Heart recipients will receive more benefits
There's some extra money, and time. Vets hurt by school shutdowns will get benefits back
Reservists can count more of their service toward eligibility
Housing stipend will decrease slightly
Benefits can get transferred after death
Surviving family members will get more money but less time
VA will measure eligibility for benefits differently More people eligible for Yellow Ribbon

President Trump has recently signed the The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the "Forever GI Bill®".

Listed below are the 11 changes to the GI Bill®:

1. There’s no longer an expiration date-Previously veterans had to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill® within 15 years of their last 90-day period of active-duty service. This requirement is going away. This portion of law will apply to anyone who left the military after Jan. 1, 2013. It also applies to spouses receiving education benefits through Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship and families of service members who were killed in the line of duty since Sept. 10, 2001

2. Purple Heart recipients will receive more benefits- Anyone who has received a Purple Heart on or after Sept. 11, 2001 will receive 100% of the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. Previously these recipients without a service connected disability who did not reach 36 months of service were not eligible for the full amount. This will go into effect in August 2018.

3. More people eligible for Yellow Ribbon- The Forever GI Bill® will expand eligibility for this program to surviving spouses or children of service members in August 2018 and active-duty service members in August 2022.  

4. There’s some extra money-and time- for STEM degrees- With various degrees extending past four years the new law authorizes an additional year of funds. Scholarships up to 30,000 will be available for users beginning August 2018. Only veterans or surviving family members of deceased service members are eligible.

5. Vets hurt by school shutdowns will get benefits back- GI Bill® users whose schools have abruptly closed since January 2015, for credits earned at these institutions that did not transfer to new schools. Benefits will be restored to these victims. A semester’s worth of reimbursement for GI Bill® users affected by future school closures, and UP TO FOUR months of housing stipend.  

6. VA will measure eligibility for benefits differently- Starting August 2020 90-days-to-six-month window is equal to 50% of benefits. Service Member with at least six months and less than 18 months of service will be eligible for 60% of benefits. This change is mainly intended for reservist.  

7. Reservists can count more of their service toward eligibility-Starting August 2018 National Guard and Reserve members can include time spent receiving medical care or recovering from injuries received on active duty toward GI Bill® eligibility.  

8. Housing Stipend will decrease slightly- A 1 percent decrease in housing stipends over the next 5 years will cover the expansions. This change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and will ONLY apply to service members who enroll in GI Bill® benefits AFTER that date.  

9. Benefits can get transferred after death- Beginning August 2018, if a dependent who received transferred benefits dies before using all of the benefits, the service member or veteran can transfer remaining benefits to another dependent.  

10. Surviving family members will get more money but less time- An education stipend increase of $200.00 will be given to surviving spouses and children of service member that are receiving Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance. Instead of the 45 months of education, individuals will receive 36 months beginning in August 2018.

11. School certifying officials must be trained- Schools with more than 20 veteran students will undergo training.

Source

Monthly Newsletter

AU Veterans Services sends a monthly newsletter to all students using VA education benefits.

Monthly Newsletter