Active duty service members, veterans, and their qualified dependents may be eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits authorized under specific chapters of Title 38 of the U.S. Code. The Veterans Affairs Office provides specialized customer services and information to assist students in establishing eligibility for and receipt of VA educational benefits. This office cannot determine eligibility, but can assist in the submission of applications and supporting documents. Only the Department of Veterans Affairs can determine student eligibility for benefits. The primary function of this office is to certify and report enrollment information to the VA to facilitate the receipt of benefits by eligible students.
Overview of Veterans Affairs (VA) Educational Benefits
There are various Veterans Affairs (VA) educational programs available, all of which have their own unique qualifying criteria and rates of payment. Depending on the benefits, the student may be eligible to receive a monthly living stipend and have their tuition and fees paid by the VA; payment of tuition and fees are the responsibility of the student if his/her benefit does not take care of the cost of attendance. Eligible students may apply for advance payment of benefits. The benefit amount is determined by the student’s training time. The VA established levels of training time as: full, 3/4, half, and less than half. Benefits for students training while on active duty and those training less than half-time are limited to the amount of tuition and fees paid. Since the number of credits determine the payment amount, it is absolutely essential that students immediately report all changes in enrollment (drops/adds) to the college’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
Establish Eligibility and Receive Benefits
The Office of Veterans Affairs provides services necessary to establish eligibility for the VA education program. To establish eligibility with the college, students are required to provide a copy of their VA issued Certificate of Eligibility. Once a student’s eligibility has been established, students must submit a Certification Request for VA Education Benefits form in order to receive them. Students may gain access to their VA forms at www.gibill.va.gov and Thomas Nelson form at www.tncc.edu or in the office. Continuing students, those currently receiving benefits at Thomas Nelson Community College, may mail, email, or fax 757/825-3537 their signed request after enrolling in subsequent semesters. Students who mail or fax must follow-up via phone or email (email@example.com) to ensure that the office has received their request.
VA Education Programs
The Post 9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33
The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill became effective for training on or after August 1, 2009. The amount of support that individuals may qualify for depends on where he/she lives and what type of degree is being pursued. For a summary of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, see the benefit comparison chart, http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Benefit_Comparison_Chart.htm#911amount.
Approved training under the Post 9/11 GI Bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, and vocational/technical training. All training programs must be offered by an institution of higher learning (IHL) and approved for GI Bill benefits. Additionally, tutorial assistance, licensing and certification test reimbursement are approved under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Pamphlets and fact sheets about the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be found at http://www.gibill.va.gov/resources/student handouts/index.htm.
The Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Chapter 30
The MGIB program provides up to 36 months of education benefits. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training, and correspondence courses. Generally, benefits are payable for 10 years following a student’s release from active duty. Vietnam-era veterans with remaining entitlement under Chapter 34 may also receive benefits under this chapter.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VOC REHAB), Chapter 31
The VA’s VOC REHAB and Employment Service provide vocational counseling or special rehabilitation services to service-connected disabled veterans and dependents of veterans who meet certain program eligibility requirements. The VA will normally pay training expenses including tuition and fees, necessary books, supplies, and equipment. Benefits also include a monthly subsistence allowance.
Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP), Chapter 32
VEAP is available for students who first entered active duty between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985 and elected to make contributions from military pay to participate in this education benefit program. Contributions are matched on a $2 for $1 basis by the government. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA), Chapter 35
The DEA provides educational and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. The program offers up to 45 months of educational benefits, which may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. Spouses may take correspondence courses under this chapter.
The Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), Chapter 1606
The MGIB-SR program may be available to students if they are a member of the Selected Reserve. The Selected Reserve includes the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, and the Air National Guard. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training, and correspondence courses.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), Chapter 1607
The REAP was established as a part of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. This program is designed to provide educational assistance to members of the Reserve components called or ordered to active duty in response to a war or national emergency (contingency operation) as declared by the President or Congress. Certain individuals who were activated after September 30, 1980 may be eligible for educational benefits or increased benefits.
Accelerated Payment for MGIB-AD
An accelerated payment is a lump sum payment of 60% of tuition and fees for certain high-cost, high-tech programs. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a high-tech program and must certify that they intend to seek employment in a high-tech industry as defined by the VA. Accelerated payment is paid instead of Montgomery GI Bill benefits that the student would otherwise receive.
Licensing and Certification
Students can receive reimbursement for licensing and certification tests they take on or after March 1, 2001. These tests must be specifically approved for the G.I. Bill. The VA can pay only for the cost of the tests and no other fees connected with obtaining a license or certification.
Tuition Assistance “Top-Up”
Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” benefits are equal to the difference between the total cost of a college course and the amount of tuition assistance that is paid by the military. Tuition Assistance (TA) and Top-Up are not administered through this office; students must request benefits for these programs through their unit’s education services offices. When received from their unit’s educational services office, students submit TA authorization forms directly to the Thomas Nelson cashier’s office for payment of tuition only. Fees are the student’s responsibility.
Educational Assistance Test Program Section 901 of Public Law 96-342
Section 901 is an Educational Assistance Test Program created by the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1981 (Public Law 96342) to encourage enlistment and reenlistment in the armed forces. Benefits are available to individuals who entered on active duty after September 20, 1980, and before October 1, 1981 (or before October 1, 1982, if entry was under a delayed enlistment contract signed between September 30, 1989 and October 1, 1981).
Standards of Progress
The Department of Veterans Affairs requires that students receiving educational benefits maintain satisfactory progress. This office is required to submit notification of unsatisfactory progress to the VA when a student is placed on academic suspension or dismissal.
Additional Benefits Available to Eligible Students
VA Work-Study Program
This program is available to any student receiving VA educational benefits who is attending school three-quarter (3/4) time or more. An individual working under this program may work at the school’s Veterans Office, VA Regional Office, Financial Information VA Medical Facilities, or at an approved state employment office. Work-study students are paid at either the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. The student must contact the school, medical facility, or employment office at which he/she desires employment to determine if positions are available prior to applying.
Tutorial Assistance Program
Assistance may be available to those who are eligible under Chapters 30, 32, 33, 35, and 1606 to aid student’s expenses when tutoring becomes necessary. The allowance is a supplement to the monthly educational assistance check and is paid without entitlement charge for those under Chapter 35. Entitlement for those under other chapters will be charged if the tutorial assistance exceeds $600.
Restored Entitlement Program for Survivors (REPS)
This program restores certain Social Security benefits that were reduced or terminated. The benefit is payable to certain spouses and school age children who are survivors of armed forces members who died while on active duty before August 12, 1981, or died from disabilities relative to active duty before this date.
Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program
The Military Survivors and Dependents Program (MSDEP) provides educational benefits to spouses and children of military service members killed, missing in action, taken prisoner, or who became at least 90 percent disabled as a result of military service in an armed conflict. Military service includes service in the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserves, the Virginia National Guard, or the Virginia National Guard Reserves. Armed conflict includes military operations against terrorism or as the result of a terrorist act, a peace-keeping mission, or any armed conflict after December 6, 1941. This program waives tuition and fees in Virginia. Benefits are available for up to four years.
To be eligible, children and spouses of qualifying military service members must meet the following requirements.
- The child must be between ages 16 and 29; there are no age restrictions for spouses.
- The military service member must have been a Virginia citizen at the time he or she entered active duty or must have been a Virginia citizen for at least five years immediately prior to the date of the application for admission.
- In the case of a deceased military service member, the veteran’s surviving spouse can meet the residency requirements if he or she lived in Virginia for at least five years prior to marrying the military service member or has been a citizen of Virginia for at least five years immediately prior to the date of application.
Eligibility is determined by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Please contact them at 540/857-7104.