1Today’s Objective This presentation will include: A brief overview of VA education benefitsUnderstanding VA debts; school or student?Treasury Offset ProgramRecent Changes
2VA Education BenefitsRegional Processing Offices (RPOs) process GI Bill claims. The Buffalo RPO is responsible for 12 States, DC and most Foreign Schools.
3Eligibility & Program Basics VA Education BenefitsEligibility & Program Basics
4VA PartnersSCO (School Certifying Official): The person with delegated authority to sign enrollment certifications, documents, and reports relating to VA benefits.ELR (Education Liaison Representative): The VA employee responsible for liaison, program approval functions, and compliance surveys for your state.ECSS (Education Compliance Survey Specialist): VA employee who conducts school surveys.SAA (State Approving Agency): State Employees responsible for program approval and compliance surveys for VA
5VA Education Benefit Programs Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)/Transfer of Entitlement/ John D. Fry ScholarshipMGIB-Active Duty (Chapter 30)MGIB-Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606)Reserve Education Assistance Program (Chapter 1607/REAP)Dependent’s Educational Assistance (Chapter 35/DEA)Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (Chapter 31/VR&E)
6VA Education Benefit Programs Post-9/11 GI BillMGIB-ADMGIB-SRREAPVRAPDEAMinimum Length of Service90 days active aggregate service (after 9/10/01) or 30 days continuous if discharged for disability2 yr. continuous enlistment (minimum duty varies by service date, branch, etc.)6 yr. commitment (after 6/30/85)90 days active continuous service (after 9/10/01)Have Honorable Discharge and not have eligibility to any other VA Education BenefitNot applicableMaximum # of Months of Benefits361245How Payments Are MadeTuition and Fees: Paid to schoolHousing stipend: Paid monthly to studentBooks & Supplies: Paid to student at the beginning of the termPaid to student. Amount of benefit based on Training Time.Paid to student. Can only receive benefits for Full-Time Training. Paid to student. Amount of benefit based on Training Time.Duration of BenefitsGenerally 15 years from last day of active dutyGenerally 10 years from last day of active dutyEnds the day you leave Selected ReserveGenerally 10 years from the day you leave the Selected Reserve or the day you leave the IRR .No Payments after March 31, 2014Spouse: yearsChild: Ages 18-26
8Chapter 33 EntitlementIn general, individuals remain eligible for Ch33 benefits for 15 years from last date of discharge of at least 90 continuous days (30 days if disability). Service members maintain eligibility while on duty.Veterans receive a maximum of 36 months of benefits under CH33, which may extend when exhausted within a term.Entitlement limited to no more than 48 months of combined benefits under educational assistance programs administered by VA.NOTE: Individuals transferring to the Post-9/11 GI Bill from the Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30) will be limited to the amount of remaining Chapter 30 entitlement, unless none remains.
9Post - 9/11 GI Bill Payments VA Education BenefitsPost - 9/11 GI Bill Payments
10Basics Of VA Education Benefit Payments For all Non-Chapter 33 programs, payments are made directly to students based on their eligibility, Training Time and enrollment period.Payments for Apprenticeship or On-The-Job Training programs are made to trainees based on eligibility, length of training program and what “step” they are in the training program.Correspondence and Flight Training payments are made to students based on eligibility and approved cost of program.Chapter 33 students can receive payment for Tuition and Fees (paid to school), Books and Supplies, and a Monthly Housing Allowance.Some Chapter 33 students may also be eligible for “Yellow Ribbon” payments.Eligible students may also receive additional payments for a College Fund “Kicker” or “Buy-Up.”
11Post-9/11 GI Bill Payments Net Tuition and Fees ChargedMonthly Housing Allowance (MHA)Books and Supplies StipendKickers (also known as College Fund)Licensing and Certifications Tests, National ExamsWork StudyTutorial AssistanceRefund of $1,200 MGIB Contribution(All payments are subject to Eligibility Level Percentages.)
12Basics Of Post 9/11 GI Bill Payments There are 3 primary payments under the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)Net Tuition and Fees (and Yellow Ribbon) paid to the school*Private Schools and Non-Degree Schools have an Annual Cap (adjusted each school year, Aug. 1st to July 31st)Public School will receive In-State Tuition and Fees.Books and Supplies Payment paid to the student*Books and Supplies is a maximum of $1000 per school year.Monthly Housing Allowance paid to the studentPayment issued at the end of each month of attendance.Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) is based on school location, Rate of Pursuit (ROP), and type of training (Distance or In-Residence). Active duty students and TOE spouses of active duty members not eligible for MHA.* Tuition and Fees payments and Books and Supplies payments will be released no sooner than 14 days prior to the beginning of the term.
13Net ChargesVA was initially considered ‘First Payer’ for tuition & feesreporting purposes. Effective August 1, 2011, schools mustreport the net cost of tuition and fees after deducting:Any waiver of, or reduction in Tuition and Fees; andAny scholarship, or other Federal, State, institutional, or employer based aid that is provided directly to the school towards tuition and fees for the sole purpose of defraying tuition and fees”Title IV Funds (Pell Grants and Federal Loans) are excluded from net charge assessments.* Effective July 2009, no VA education benefits can be considered when calculating EFC or as an outside resource for Financial Aid purposes
14Eligibility Tier Max T&F Payable/Year Tuition & Fees CapEligibility Tier Max T&F Payable/Year100% $20,235.0290% $18,211.5280% $16,188.0270% $14,164.5160% $12,141.0150% $ 10,117.5140% $ 8,094.01In general, VA will pay the lesser of the net T&Fs or the individual’s annual cap rate for all Ch33 students
15Yellow Ribbon ProgramIHLs may voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to allow the two parties to provide matching funds to cover a portion of the established charges above the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. (Program available only to IHLs in the US)Deadline for current contract is May 15, 2014, for submission of agreements. Check website (www.benefits.va.gov/gibill) for information. Contracts are now open-ended and continue as is, unless school terminates or changes during the annual open period.Use VA Form , May 2012 to enroll or change current contractAnnual Open Season March 15 – May 15Funds used by the institution for the Yellow Ribbon Program must be available for “unrestricted” use by the institution.
16Yellow Ribbon ProgramOnly individuals entitled to the 100 percent benefit rate (based on service requirements) may receive this funding. In VA-Once, code 100% Chapter 33 students as “33Yellow” on VA-ONCE Bio screen.VA will match each additional dollar that an institution contributes toward an eligible student’s established charges, not to exceed 50% of unmet allowable charges above the annual cap at private schools or to cover out of state charges at public schools.Funds used by the institution as Yellow Ribbon contributions become part of the veterans education benefit and cannot be included as estimated financial assistance (EFA).The following are NOT eligible for Yellow Ribbon:Active duty personnel and their spousesFry Scholarship recipients
17Annual Reporting Fees‘Snapshot’ data collected each October, representative of all students in receipt of VA benefits during calendar year. Payment issued in the spring, will be sent by EFT at end of this month (mailed from Treasury to generic address of the school, if no EFT.)Sent with corresponding letter and student listing$12.00 per standard enrollment certification of each student.$15.00 per advance pay enrollment certification (advance pay not available for Chapter 33)By law, funds must be used to support veteran certification and programs. Usage will be reviewed during compliance survey *new*
18Vet Rep ListingCh33 Vet Rep Listing is automatically sent weekly to the address in WEAMS (VA’s approval database)Report details all Tuition & Fees payments and Yellow Ribbon payments made during the reporting period.Non-Ch33 monthly reports available (need one-time request)
19Enrollment Reporting Concerns VA Education BenefitsEnrollment Reporting Concerns
20Reporting Tuition and Fees For each enrollment period, report actual net cost for tuition & fees to VA:Tuition and Fees = $5,000.00School Veteran Tuition Waiver (500.00)Private Tuition Scholarship (500.00)NYS VTA VA Waiver*NYS TAP VA Waiver*Net Tuition and Fees = $4,000.00Report $4, to VA as the net T&Fs for this term. If the student received any Title IV funds or assistance not specifically designated for the payment of tuition and fees – Do not deduct from the amount reported to VA.* New York State granted waivers to exclude state funds from net payer provision
21“Zero Tuition”If net tuition and fees are unknown, you may wish to submit the term dates and actual credit hours, but enter $0.00 as the chargesThis allows the student to receive timely housing and books & supplies stipend paymentsAlso permits financial aid to be resolved prior to submitting certMUST submit an amended cert, effective the First Day of the Term to ensure accurate payment when net T&Fs are reported! (Don’t include T&Fs along with an adjustment made after the first day of the term.)
22Reporting Enrollments If you have mini or summer terms (sessions) where the tuition and fees are charged collectively at the beginning of the first term or session; you should report the tuition and fees that are associated with the cost of each credit hour taken for each term/session reported.For example:A school has 3 summer sessions, but charges tuition and fees during the first session for all three sessions. When certifying the enrollment, the tuition and fees should be reported for the number of credits for each session that the student is enrolled in. This will allow VA to make proportionate payments based on the number of credits taken each term/session; rather than just the term/session when the tuition and fees were required to be paid.
23Reporting Changes Trainee placed on academic probation or graduates. The SCO must notify VA within 30 days of discovery if any of the following occurs:The net charges change or the term dates change.The trainee withdraws from training.The trainee does not progress satisfactorily according to approved standards and practices of your facility.When the trainee changes credit or clock hours of training, even during drop/add.If the trainee receives non-punitive grades or punitive grades due to non-attendance.Trainee placed on academic probation or graduates.
24Reductions & Terminations Begin End Crs. Tuition Fees05/15/ /16/ $ $166.6706/18/ /20/ $ $166.6707/25/ /16/ $ $166.66VA considers each enrollment line a separate term.If the student withdrew from the 2nd term prior to 6/18/14,(never attended), VA will designate this as school debt.If subsequently, he began the 3rd term, then withdrew on 7/30/14, VA will designate this as vet debt.Send $ from 2nd term to VA; refund vet for 3rd term, if applicable.
25Reductions & Terminations For reductions within the school’s refund period, funds should be given directly to the student. The fact the school refunded money to the student has no bearing on the VA payment. VA will pay for the time attended. (Even during Drop/Add.)Ch33 reductions are paid at the original rate through the end of the month in which they occurred. This is known as the “End of Month Rule” and is based on the inability of the student to verify his or her attendance at the end of each month. (Monthly verification for Ch33 will begin at some point in the future; when this happens, “End of Month Rule” will cease.)The student is responsible for any debts incurred to VA as the result of a change in enrollment within a term. Don’t send funds to VA unless a debt notice is received.
27Chapter 33 Debt Vet Debt Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) Books and Supplies StipendKickers (also known as College Fund)Tuition and Fees Charged to VetSchool DebtTuition and Fees Charged to School
28Benefits Overpayments When a veteran debt is created, there is a 30 day period called “Due Process”. Debts will not be recouped from future benefits during this time.The veteran can request a waiver of the debt within 180 days of the 1st notification of the debt. If the waiver request is received within the Due Process period, the debt won’t be recouped until the waiver is reviewed.Students with existing debts may attend school; however their payments will be withheld until the debt is cleared.VA debt can be collected from any federal funds.School payments are not reduced by collection of veteran debt.
29School Debt Management Debt Management is not managed at the Buffalo RPOAll Debt Management is centralized at the St. Paul, MNVA office.Don’t call with Debt issues; Call the DMC at orContact via at orCall the SCO Hotline at
30School Debt Management All overpayments are computed by VASchools should NOT return funds to VA unless the school has received a collection letter from VA Debt Management Center (DMC) with a tear-off payment stub.SCOs should provide bursar, fiscal, student account offices at their school with pages of the SCO Handbook and VA Central Office Letter, dated December 28, 2011.No funds should be returned to DMC without coordination at the school between the SCO and the office returning the funds.
31Refund Checks Sent to the VA The 7 Reasons To Return Tuition & Fee Funds To VA:Student never attended classes for which he/she was certified (regardless of the reason for non-attendance)Student completely withdraws before term or on the 1st day of the termSchool received payment for the wrong studentSchool received a duplicate paymentSchool submitted an amended enrollment certification and reported reduced tuition & fee charges, reduced Yellow Ribbon amount, or reduced bothStudent died prior to or during reported termVA issued payment above the amount certified on the enrollment certification (VA data entry error)NOTE:All other overpayments will remain the student’s responsibility.
32School Debt Management Tuition and fees payment should be returned to VA by the institution only if:The school receives a collection letter from the Debt Management Center (DMC) requesting return of funds in the exact amount owed the VA.Funds are returned to VA Debt Management Center.Funds are returned with the tear-off payment stub from the DMC letter.Funds are returned by check with the student’s full name, SSN, and made payable to the “US Department of Veterans Affairs”.
33Treasury Offset Program VA’s Debt Management Center (DMC) issues three Notices of Indebtedness (NOIs) prior to sending the debt to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) for recoupment.The first NOI is sent within 3-5 days from the date the debt is established. The notice requests a response within 30 days.If no response has been received within that timeframe, DMC will issue a second NOI. The second notice informs debtors of VA’s statutory obligation to refer delinquent debts to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) and provides an additional 30 days to respond.If no response is made to the second NOI, DMC will issue the third and final NOI providing the debtor 60 days in which to respond. After 60 days without a response. the debt is automatically referred to TOP.
34School Debt Management The debt collection timeline is in the back of the SCO HandbookThe RPO overpayment letter is followed three days later by the 1st DMC debt letter. 30 days later you get the 2nd DMC letter. 30 days after that, you get the 3rd DMC debt letter.The 3rd letter tells you that you have 60 days to pay or be sent to the Treasury Offset Program.This sequence gives you roughly days to resolve the debt.The optimum time to dispute a debt is when the initial RPO letter arrives - contact the VA via RNW or the phone line. If you are disputing the debt, you should also notify the DMC by .
35The Debt Collection Process If you have received the 3rd DMC letter, DMC needs to be your primary point of contact in your ongoing efforts to dispute. They are the only ones who can suspend referral to collection at this point.Once you are within the 60-day window following the 3rd DMC letter, you really need to be sure that the case is either paid or stopped by day 50 - after that point the DMC cannot guarantee that they can get the debt removed from the collection queue before day 61 when the offsets are taken…In essence, the 60 day window is really less than 50, allowing for the mail and DMC processing (approximately 2 days).
37Principles of Excellence Executive Order 13607, signed April 2012; Collaboration with VA, DoD and DoEVoluntary school participationProvides information about cost and quality of educational institutionsIntended to prevent abuse and deceptive recruiting practicesEnsures schools provide quality academic and student supportVA, DoD and DoE recently launched complaint system for veteran studentsMore than 3,500 schools have committed to POE thus farHand-out outlines compliance survey aspects of POE
38PLImproving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012Comprehensive policy on providing education information to VeteransVA conducted national campaign to promote Ch36 Vocational Counseling for Veterans through Voc RehabVA will provide additional information and training to School Certifying Officials about certifying and reportingFacilitates information sharing between State Approving Agencies and accrediting agenciesDevelops policy on prohibition of certain uses of inducements by educational institutions (commissions, bonuses, etc.)
39Financial Aid IssuesEffective July 2009, VA education benefits can’t be considered when calculating EFC or COA for Federal Financial Aid purposes. This includes T&Fs payments, monthly housing payments, etc.Ch33 payments to schools are not tuition specific funds and should be refunded to the student when appropriate.If qualifying tuition specific funds are received after net T&Fs have been reported to VA, it requires action on the SCO’s part. You must report an amended certification to VA. The amount in question will become school debt if VA payment has been made.
40Are VA Education Benefits Taxable? Any veterans’ benefits paid under any law administered by the VA should not be reported as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Block 5 of IRS Form 1098-T may include non-taxable VA benefits and other taxable scholarships and grants. Students should consult their tax professional.Chapter 2 – 13, IRS Publication 970 defines education credits available to students and how they are impacted by veterans’ benefits.
42School Certifying Official Handbook 3rd Edition Revision 2: 9/30/13Tab 3, SCO CD
43Contact InformationFor Students:Toll free: for Education QuestionsToll free: for other VA questionsSubmit a Question viaFor School VA Certifying Officials (only):Local Education Liaison Representative (ELR)Certification, regulatory requirements, VAONCE assistanceHardship cases (i.e. certified student has no payment or communication from VA and has exhausted other contact resources) National Hotline for School Certifying OfficialsGeneral questions on student eligibility, claim status, payment statusAllow a passage of time before making an inquiry re: a 1999Schools may establish account/make inquiry direct to the Buffalo RPO via “Submit A Question”.