All new VA students (including dependents) must apply to activate their benefits through the GI Bill website at http://www.gibill.va.gov. There is a link on the front page that says “Apply for Benefits.” Veterans should submit a copy of their most recent DD-214 (Member Copy 4) with the application to speed processing. Service members still on active duty must have their application signed by the Command Education Officer.
Once you have been admitted to VWCC, talk to a counselor and select a program of study. Request transcripts from all previous educational and military training and have them evaluated for possible credit toward your program. This is a Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) requirement. If this has not been completed, your benefits may be suspended until your prior credit has been evaluated and reported to the DVA.
Submit a copy of the Certification Request for VA Educational Benefits form (commonly known as the blue form) to your VA certifying official (VACO) each term you enroll. Your VACO will then certify your enrollment with the VA Regional Processing Center in Buffalo, NY.
New applicants should allow at least 8 to 10 weeks from the date your application for benefits and your certification of enrollment were processed by the college to receive your first check. You will be paid retroactively from the first day of class. Once you receive your first check, subsequent checks should arrive near the middle of each month if you remain continuously enrolled.
Students may inquire about the status of a pending claim by calling the VA national call center at 1-888-442-4551 Monday through Friday, during the hours 10-6 Eastern.
Under all VA programs other than Ch 33, the student is responsible for all up-front costs. This means your tuition much be paid when you register for class. You may be eligible to receive financial aid to cover these costs. Submit an application at http://www.fafsa.gov to see if you qualify.
You have the option to request an Advance Payment of your GI Bill. You must make this request by completing the Advance Payment Request Form after you have registered for classes, but no later than 31 days before the start of the term. If approved, your first payment will be mailed to the college, in your name, and you will have to sign to pick up that check. This may help alleviate some of the initial expense, but you should be aware that you will not receive any additional payments until you have completed 3 months of schooling.
You may take as many or as few courses as you feel you can comfortably manage. Your monthly payment will be determined by the number of credit hours in which you are enrolled, and the length of your courses.
For instance, if you are a full-time student taking 12 or more credits, you will receive full-time benefits for each month that you continue attending full-time. If you are a part-time student taking less than 12 semester hours, your monthly benefit check will be reduced by 1/4 or 1/2 as appropriate. Accelerated courses (e.g. 8-week classes) sometimes are paid at a higher rate based on a different method of measurement used to calculate training time.
You must be enrolled at least half-time to receive a monthly payment from the VA. If you are enrolled for less than half-time, or if you are on active duty, you will receive a lump sum payment of the tuition cost, or the amount on your monthly benefit, whichever is less.
You must submit a Certification Request of VA Educational Benefits each time you register for classes. Then, the VACO will review your program of study and confirm that the courses you are taking are required in that program. Certification of Enrollment will then be sent to the Regional Processing Office in Buffalo, NY.
If you completed at least 20 months of a two-year enlistment, or 30 months of a three-year enlistment, you are typically entitled to 36 months of full-time educational benefits. Your training time will be deducted from your 36 months as it is used. For example, if you are taking 6 credits, which qualifies you as a half-time student, the VA will deduct 1/2 of a month of entitlement for each month you are in school. In this example, you could continue going to school half-time for a total of 72 months. If you increase your training time, your monthly pay will increase, and your 36 months of eligibility will be depleted faster.
If you are eligible for more than one educational benefit, it may be possible to receive benefits for up to 48 months. Please discuss your situation with the VACO at your school.
You have 10 years from the day you were separated from active duty to use your benefits. Under Ch 33, this time period has been extended to 15 years.
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