Inside this Month’s Issue:
- Section 1 - Announcements: Spring COVID-19 Guidance, Request for Certification email reminders, new enrollment verification standards and more!
- Section 2 – Knowledge Article of the Month: “How VA Education Benefits Disburse and how schedule changes impact your VA benefits”
- Section 3 – Calendar: Check out these upcoming events and important dates!
Make sure to read News You Can Use Volumes 1 through 5 for other important announcements!
- Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Spring 2022 and the REMOTE Act
Classes will temporarily move online from January 10 to January 30. For more information concerning the University’s COVID-19 response, please visit this Frequently Asked Questions page.
On December 21, 2021, President Biden signed the "Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions Act" or the "REMOTE Act" into law. This law extends the various COVID-19 protections for GI Bill® students from December 21, 2021 to June 1, 2022. In part, this means that students who were attending a course that was converted to online training because of COVID-19, and were getting paid the resident rate, may continue to train online, and will continue to receive the resident housing rate until June 1, 2022.
- The monthly enrollment verification requirement is almost here!
The Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing a monthly enrollment verification requirement for Post 9/11 GI Bill® recipients. Effective December 17, 2021, students receiving these benefits must verify their enrollment at the end of each month. This will go into effect at American University for students in the Spring 2022 semester and Term 1 2022. Students with enrollments that begin between December 17-31, 2021 will be automatically verified for the month of December. Students at IHL facilities will receive more information about verifying enrollment in early January 2022. Those who fail to verify their enrollment for two consecutive months will have their Monthly Housing Allowance and kicker payments put on hold. If you want to learn more, you can read the Veterans Affairs’ blog post about these changes or you can read News You Can Use Volume 6!
- Request for Certification Email Reminder: Did you recently register for classes? Did you receive an email reminder requesting that you submit a Request for Certification to email@example.com? This is a new feature that our office enacted as of November 2021. How does it work? Well, it is simple! Each semester and/or term that you are using VA education benefits, you are required to submit a Request for Certification to our office. The email is just a way to make sure that you don’t forget this crucial step so that you can receive your VA education benefit payment(s) in a timely manner.
- In-person office hours are back!
To schedule an in-person, telephone or virtual appointment with the Veterans Services team, you can visit our You Can Book Me calendar.
- Do you need access to the Veterans Lounge?
The Veterans’ Lounge is located next to AU Central – Veteran Services office in 201 Asbury building. The Veterans’ Lounge is designated for all military-affiliated students. For access, please email firstname.lastname@example.org from your AU email. Access to the Veterans’ lounge is typically granted in 2-3 business days.
How VA Education Benefits Disburse and How Schedule Changes Impact your VA Benefits
So, it is that time again. You registered for classes, you sent your Certificate of Eligibility to the Veterans Services Office, and you submitted your Request for Certification. Congratulations! You did it! These are all the preliminary steps that you need to take in order for our office to successfully request that the Veterans Benefits Administration certify your enrollment for the semester so that your VA benefit payments are paid out in a timely manner.
But what happens if you change your mind? Did you decide that maybe you enrolled in not enough courses? Or maybe you enrolled in too many courses?? Well, as long as you make this decision before the start of classes for your specific program, then all you need to do is notify the Veterans Services office by sending an email to email@example.com describing the details of these changes. Since our office does not submit your tuition and fees to the VA for certification until after the add/drop with a “Withdrawal and 100% refund” date, it is expected that the VA has not yet sent any funds, on your behalf, to the school.
What happens if you drop your classes after the add/drop deadline and receive a “W”? Well, this makes the process a bit more complicated. At this point our office has sent a certification to the VA requesting for a tuition and fees payment. And so, after the VA approves this certification, they will begin to disburse payments to the accounts of eligible beneficiaries. But, if you then decide that you don’t want to take a course that the VA has already paid for, they will seek a refund of that money. The VA does not pay for “non-punitive” grades, aka withdrawn courses.
Here are a few scenarios that could happen if you withdraw from a course after the add/drop deadline.
- Overpayments involving Chapter 33 Post-9/11 GI Bill®
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill® the VA pays you a monthly housing allowance/book stipend and sends your tuition payment directly to the school. If you withdraw from a class and you change training time (i.e. full-time/half-time/quarter-time) you will have a debt with the VA for your housing allowance/book stipend.
Your school will also notify the VA that you dropped a class. The VA will then bill you and the school for the money it paid the school for the classes you dropped. American University will resolve the debt on your behalf. When American University returns funding to the VA, this may cause you to have an amount due to American University.
- Overpayments involving all non-Chapter 33 Payments: If you are using any GI Bill® besides the Post-9/11 GI Bill® or Fry Scholarship, the VA bases your monthly payment on your training time. If your withdrawal moves you from one group to another (full-time to part-time) you will have an overpayment with the VA that you must repay.
- Withdrawal During The School's Drop/Add Period
If you withdraw during the school's drop/add period (generally the first two weeks of classes) the VA will reduce your training time (and any payment as described above) on the date of your withdrawal. This may or may not result in an overpayment. However, because you are not charged tuition from AU based on schedule changes during add/drop, this should not result in an amount due to American University when funding is returned on your behalf to the VA.
- Withdrawal After The School's Drop/Add Period
If you withdraw after the school's drop/add period the VA will reduce your training time on the beginning date of the term. This will usually result in an overpayment which can be quite large.
- The Six Credit Hour Exclusion
The VA realizes that sometimes you need to drop a class and for this reason they have something called "the six credit hour exclusion". Basically, your first withdrawal (up to six credit hours) is excused up to the date you withdrew. The VA will adjust your training time on the date of withdrawal, not all the way back to the start of the term. This can only be used once, and you can't combine two 3 hour withdrawals on separate occasions. If you drop 3 hours and get the exclusion that is counted as your one exception. It’s important to note that the VA will only pay up to the date you withdraw for both the six credit hour exclusion and the mitigating circumstances noted below. The university may still charge you the full tuition cost for your withdrawn course meaning you still may have an amount due to the university even with an approved 6 credit hour exclusion or mitigating circumstances on file.
- Mitigating Circumstances
When the VA is notified of your withdrawal they will ask you if you have mitigating circumstances for your drop. You can submit proof of mitigating circumstance directly to the VA for review. As mentioned above, it’s important to note that the VA will only pay up to the date you withdraw for both the six credit hour exclusion and the mitigating circumstances. The university may still charge you the full tuition cost for your withdrawn course meaning you still may have an amount due to the university even with an approved 6 credit hour exclusion or mitigating circumstances on file.
Don’t miss these important deadlines and upcoming events!
January 3-14, 2022: American University Veterans Services Office will be operating at a limited staffing capacity during this time. Please expect delayed responses until we return to the office at full capacity on January 18, 2021.
January 10, 2022: Spring classes begin. Classes will be held online through January 30, 2022, in accordance with the University’s COVID-19 response.
January 17, 2022: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; no classes, university offices closed
January 24, 2022: Last day to add a spring course, internship, Independent Reading or Research, or Community Service-Learning project
January 24, 2022: Last day to drop a spring course for a 100% refund and without a "W" recorded. If you drop a course after the add/drop date for your specific academic program, you may be liable to reconcile any overpayment from the VA.
January 25th-28th, 2022: Begin 2nd certification of dual certification process for Spring 2022/Term 1 2022 certifications.
January 31, 2022: Return to in-person classes, pending University guidance.