Frequently Asked Questions
- Is our office affiliated with, or a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs?
No, our office acts simply as a liaison between the veteran and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Veterans Affairs Coordinator is an employee of Volunteer State Community College.
- What do I need to do to get certified for my attendance in school?
First, you must have all required documentation turned into the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office. All requirements are on the http://volstate.edu/veterans/ under "How do I start my GI Bill?". When all required documentation is turned in, each semester you will need to talk to your advisor to ensure the classes you are registering for, go towards graduation requirements. If not, they will not be certified. Then fill out the Veterans Certification Request Form (Blue Button), sign it and turn it in to the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office for processing and certification to the VA.
- What is a Veterans Certification Request Form (VCRF)? How often do I have to complete it?
The VCRF is the form in which you indicate in writing the request for enrollment certification from the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office to the VA. It outlines the courses that you are currently registered for that current semester. The Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office uses this form to comply with VA rules and regulations and verifies that the courses you are requesting are within your degree/certificate program.
You MUST complete the VCRF every semester that you want to use your VA educational benefits. This form lets the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office know your desires to use the VA and Department of Defense benefits for that semester.
- Where can I find the Veterans Certification Request Form (VCRF)?
The VCRF can be found on the veterans' page of the Volunteer State website. http://volstate.edu/veterans/ Look for the blue button on the left side of the page.
- How do I change my degree?
First, you must fill out a Change of Major/Program form and turn it into the Admissions office. Then, fill out a VA form 22-1995 (for Post 9/11, MGIB, REAP), or a VA form 22-5495 (For DEA program) and turn it into the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office. If the forms are not turned in, then your VA certification will be delayed.
- How will I be notified if there are problems with my Vol State certification?
If there are problems with your semester certification, the Vol State Veterans Affairs Coordinator will contact you through your Vol State e-mail account (NOT D2L). Be sure to check your Vol State e-mail regularly.
- When can I utilize my VA educational benefits?
VA educational benefits may be used during any academic term, including summer, as long as you have any remaining entitlement. Simply contact our office.
- What will the VA NOT pay for?
- Classes that do not go towards your degree/certificate graduation requirements
- Any of the Learning Support classes: MATH, READ, ENGL 0810, 0820, 0830
- International Fee
- Classes you don't attend
- How do I pay for school?
Once students have turned in a properly filled out and signed Veterans Certification Request Form, the Veterans Affairs Coordinator will apply a code to your Volunteer State account so you will not be expected to pay for your tuition and fees immediately. You are still responsible to ensure the final bill is paid by the VA, yourself, or another source of payment.
Department of Veteran Affairs works on paying in arrears. In other words, you must attend school before you are paid. Each GI Bill is paid through a monthly entitlement rate the month following your training. Out of that entitlement you are expected to pay all schooling costs.
- Why can't I take the courses I want -- it's my money!
VA Educational Benefits are an earned entitlement to be used for pursuit of an educational goal. The Code of Federal Regulations is very specific regarding proper degree pursuit, and benefits will be paid only for courses that count towards graduation credit in an approved degree program.
- When will I be paid?
The VA payment process takes time. Payment will not happen immediately. Please plan for a delay in payments. Always check your Volunteer State Community College e-mail (NOT D2L). This is our method to let you know if there are issues with your request for certification to the VA.
First, the student must turn in all required documents to include the Veterans Certification Request Form. If all documents are not in place, then you will not have your certification processed. Then, all your information must be verified by the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office before it can be certified to the VA. Once the VA receives the certification, it can take on average a couple of weeks for them to process the payments. If you have just applied for eligibility through VONAPP, it will take an extra 4-6 weeks before the certification is processed.
If you are Chapter 35, Dependents Education Assistance program, it could take longer before you receive your benefits.
- What if I've used my benefits before?
If you received the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11, or REAP, you must complete the VA Form 22-1995. If you received Dependents Education Assistance benefits (Chapter 35), you must complete the VA Form 22-5495.
- How much money will I get each month?
The amount of entitlement is determined by VA and the amount of your training time. To obtain the amount in your specific case, please contact the VA Education at 1-888-442-4551. There is also payment table information at http://www.gibill.va.gov/resources/benefits_resources/rate_tables.html
- I thought the VA paid for my school and housing... What is this monthly entitlement?
For the Montgomery GI Bill, REAP, and DEA, the VA pays for schooling through the monthly entitlement. As part of federal law, the VA has contracted to pay you a monthly benefit amount. This amount is the same nationwide, and is the same for all similarly entitled veterans. Out of this monthly entitlement, you are expected to pay for all schooling costs, which can include: tuition, fees, books, supplies and general living expenses.
The Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) Gi Bill is paid through three methods.
- Book stipend: Is calculated by how many semester hours you take that semester. Each academic year a student is entitled for payment up to 24 credit hours and is limited by your percent of eligibility by the Veterans Affairs.
- Housing payment: Is paid for the time you are actually attending classes. It is calculated by your percentage of eligibility; your rate of pursuit for the term; you must be attending at OVER half time for that term; the classes you are taking must have one class that is a campus class (hybrid courses do not count); and the housing allowance for the main campus as an E-5 with dependents. NOTE: if you are taking only online courses to include hybrid courses, you will receive housing payments calculated at half the national average housing rate.
- Tuition and fees: are calculated from the certified classes you are attending multiplied by your percentage of eligibility. At Volunteer State, the $10 international fee is not paid by the VA.
- Why is my money reduced if I don't attend course(s)?
Non-attendance or excessive, non-excused absences from a course(s) that results in a failing grade are reported to VA as punitive grades. The money received for those hours must be repaid. The VA will not pay for you to not attend class
- I have not received my money, what do I need to do?
You can contact the VA at 1-888-442-4551. Be prepared to wait on the phone especially at the beginning of a semester. You can also "Submit a Question" at http://www.gibill.va.gov/ this method takes time for a response.
- Can I receive VA educational benefit from two institutions simultaneously?
Yes, as a guest student at one of the schools. However, you must ensure the school that you are considered a guest, they MUST receive a Parent letter from your primary institution that is going to grant your degree. This letter will state what classes they will accept from the guest school. If you do not coordinate this letter, the VA will not pay for one of the two school certifications.
- What should I do to receive credit for prior military training and/or education?
Submit a copy of your DD-214 (Certificate of Discharge) or other necessary documentation to include transcripts from your all your military services you served with and have them sent to the Office of Admissions. You can find the websites for each of the military services by going to http://volstate.edu/veterans/ and go to "Credit for my military Service".
- Will I have to enroll full-time to receive my VA educational benefits?
No, VA has reduced rates for training less than full-time.
- What happens if I should fail courses?
VA will pay for failed courses as long as the major requires the class for degree/certificate completion. However, VA will not pay for failed courses due to nonattendance.
- What happens if I drop a class?
You must notify the Veterans Affairs Coordinator's office immediately when you have dropped any classes, or all of your classes. By notifying immediately, your class can be reported to the VA to help avoid overpayments back to the VA. Timing is critical. If you wait, or if the VA has already processed payments, you may be required to pay back some of the money you've received from the VA.
- What is considered full time attendance by the VA for Post 9/11 Rate of Pursuit?
Full time spring and fall semester is considered 12 credit hours for the standard term. (Note: There are shorter terms available for each of these semesters that could change full time status)
Maymester (3 weeks): 3 credit hours considered full time
5 Week course: 4 credit hours considered full time
Summer full term (10 weeks): 7 Credit hours considered full time
For Post 9/11, Chapter 33 housing allowance, rate of pursuit is calculated for each individual day a student attends class, not by how many credit hours for the entire semester.
Example: It is the last week of a 5-week semester and it overlaps the middle of a 10-week long semester; student is attending 3 credit hour courses for both semesters. Because the shorter semester only requires 4 credit hours for full time and the 10 week semester requires 7 credit hours to be considered full time, the student is considered full time rate of pursuit. Once the 5-week course ends and student is down to 3 credit hours for the 10-week course, the student is down to less than ½ time rate of pursuit and now is not eligible for housing payments