Frequently Asked Questions about VA Benefits

How do I receive the GI Bill® at Methodist University?

Just bring your VA-issued Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to the Office of Veteran Services, room 100 of Stout Hall or send to us via your student email.  Complete a Request for Certification in your myMU Portal and all approved courses will be certified.

When do I submit the Request for Certification Form?

Once you have been officially accepted, all your transfer credits have been evaluated, and you have registered for classes.

How do I complete a Request for Certification Form?

Students can log on to your myMU Portal and click the Veteran Services tab. In the top right of the page is the link to request certification for the upcoming semester.  If you have questions, stop by our office in Stout Hall or give us a call at (910) 630-7174.

What are approved courses?

All of the academic programs at MU have been approved for Veterans Education Benefits. However, only those courses that are required for your declared major can be approved for your benefits, and electives if needed. When you complete your Request for Certification form approved courses will be annotated with a green check-mark and those courses that cannot be certified by a red X.

Do I complete a Request for Certification Form each term?

Yes. Without a request, we do not know if you wish to use your GI Bill.

I did that but I still got a bill from Methodist, why didn’t you clear my account?

Regardless of the type of GI Bill you are using our office can NOT clear your account for you. You must contact the Office of Student Accounts yourself. We will provide you a Benefit Statement (Chapter 33 & 31) for you explaining what we expect VA to pay. The Office of Student Accounts also receives a copy of the Benefit Statement.  If your account can be cleared, they will do so and it will be reflected in your portal.  After 3 to 5 days if it is not showing you have been cleared, contact that office. You must be cleared by the Office of Student Accounts in the Horner Administration Building each semester and after any course changes.

How do I get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?

If you are a veteran, go to the official web site of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Education Division at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/apply.asp and complete an electronic application, VA Form 22-1990, Application for VA Education Benefits. You will be mailed a COE in approximately 8 weeks.

But classes start before that, can I be certified without a COE?

Yes, if you provide documentation that you are eligible for the benefit, and that you have applied. However, only the Department of Veteran Affairs can determine eligibility for VA benefits. We are only estimating what they will pay. You will be responsible for any amount of your debt VA has determined they will not pay. If you are unsure, wait until you receive the COE through the mail.

I was told I would have a semester to get all my transcripts in. Can I get the GI Bill now?

No. In certain cases MU will allow this grace period, but all of your prior training must be officially evaluated prior to certification of your course schedule to the VA.  To be eligible, we need all of your official college transcripts including letters of non-attendance, official final high school transcript or GED, and military transcript.

I am using my parent or spouse’s GI Bill, can I give you their COE?

No, those documents state that they are eligible, not you. You must have a COE with your name on it or the approved Transferability Authorization and have submitted a VA Form 22-1990E.

I tried to apply at VA’s website but it is hard to navigate, can you help me?

Yes, come into our office in Stout Hall room 100 or the Student Veteran Center in North Hall. We have student veteran volunteers that will assist you with VA forms.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the law that created the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program allows VA to match a school contribution for an additional amount above the chapter 33 cap not to exceed MU’s yellow ribbon cap or 50% of the difference of net tuition charges and the chapter 33 cap.

What is net tuition charge?

The required tuition and fees charges after the application of, or reduction in, tuition and fees and any scholarship, or other Federal, State, institutional or employer-based aid or assistance designated for the sole purpose of defraying direct costs of the University.  For example, if you receive a scholarship from Methodist University, it will be subtracted from the tuition and fees cost for the semester.  That amount is what MU is required to bill the VA.

Are graduate students eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program?

There are a limited number of MU Yellow Ribbon scholarships for graduate students that will be met with VA’s Yellow Ribbon program. Contact our office to see if you qualify.

How do I apply for the Yellow Ribbon Scholarship?

You don’t. The Yellow Ribbon is part of the Post 9-11 GI Bill and is automatically applied if your net tuition costs exceed the maximum cap for VA tuition reimbursement and if you are qualified for the Post 9-11 GI Bill at the 100% rate. The Yellow Ribbon does not apply for active-duty personnel, their spouses, or veterans receiving less than 100% of the benefit.

Wait! What? If I’m active duty, I can’t get my full tuition covered with the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Because of the change in the Post 9/11 GI Bill effective 8/1/2011, an active-duty service-member must have served at least 36 months to be qualified at the 100% rate and even then the VA will not match the Yellow Ribbon contribution of MU for active duty service members and their spouses.

How will other financial aid affect my GI Bill?

It depends on the type of benefit. We are required to report to VA the net tuition cost after applying grants, scholarships, discounts, etc. that must apply to direct costs. The balance is what VA will pay under chapter 33.

Can I get other financial aid?

You may possibly qualify for Federal or State financial aid such as PELL grants, need based money, outside scholarships, grants, or student loans. The first step would be to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ to complete the form then talk to our financial aid counselors in the Office of Financial Aid in Stout Hall.

What is the John David Fry Scholarship?

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship amends the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) to include the children of service members who die in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Marine Gunnery Sergeant John D. Fry, 28, of Lorena, Texas, was killed March 8, 2006 by an improvised explosive device in Anbar province, Iraq. The Marine explosives ordnance technician was seriously wounded previously and could have returned home but stayed in Iraq because he was helping fellow Marines and Iraqis, especially children. If you believe you are eligible for this scholarship you can apply using a VA Form 22-5490.

Does VA offer scholarships?

The North Carolina State VA offers scholarships for children of disabled or deceased veterans if the child was born in North Carolina or the veteran was a resident of the state prior to enlisting. Contact your county Veteran Service Officer at http://www.nc4vets.com/nc-programs for details or to apply.

How do I get transfer credit for my military training?

You must provide an official copy of your Joint Services Transcript JST (Army, Navy, Coast Guard & USMC) and for Air Force Veterans; Air University (Officers) or CCAF (enlisted) transcript during the admissions process along with your prior college transcripts and High School transcripts so they can be evaluated. The joint services website to request official transcripts is https://jst.doded.mil/official.html.  Once requested the school should receive an electronic transcript in about 24 hours.

Why can’t I sign up for elective classes if I cannot get a full-time schedule?

You can. Our office will not tell you which classes you can or cannot take, only what can be certified under VA requirements, which are Federal Law. If you do not need electives VA will pay only for those courses required for your program. Thirty-six months of benefits means you need an average of 15 credit hours each semester in your program to graduate and that is what we want you to do.

Is there a veteran’s organization on campus? Is it open to family members?

There are two veterans’ organizations. Student Veterans of America – MU Chapter, open to all veterans and their family members; and Chi Delta Chi, the Veterans’ Honor Society, open to all MU students who have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applications for both groups are available in the Student Veteran Center in North Hall.

Can I change my major?

Yes. We recommend you first consult with your Academic Advisor. Your advisor must change your major with the Registrar’s Office. We cannot certify you in the new program until it is posted in the Jenzabar (MU Intranet) system. Veterans receiving chapter 31 benefits must also have the change approved by their VRC.

What if I want to double major?

You may be approved for a minor or dual major but we recommend you have at least 50% of your major requirements completed before you add additional programs outside your declared major. You should also confer with your Academic Advisor before adding a minor or additional major. Dual majors and minors must be reasonably related to a single career field or you can choose one to be certified for benefits. You will also need to complete a VA Form 22-1995/54-1995, Change of Program form. Keep in mind that adding additional education programs will increase the time needed to complete your degree and you may run out of benefits and not have enough credits in any one program for a degree. It will help if you concentrate on one program at a time. Students using chapter 35 benefits cannot be certified for dual majors.

Will VA pay the additional fees if I take a directed study or independent study class?

No. VA will not pay for the additional fee, they will pay for the tuition cost. Additional fees would be your responsibility. Courses taken on a pass-fail basis or for audit are also not covered by VA Education Benefits.

My instructor says I need a specific type of (brush, calculator, instrument, etc.), will VA pay for that?

The Post 9-11 GI Bill will pay the fees that are required for all students such as the Student Activity Fee, graduation fee and some program specific fees that are required to complete the degree program. Fees for applied music lessons, parking fees, etc. must be purchased using your book and equipment allowance that is sent to you, not charged to the school. If you are using chapter 31, Veterans Readiness and Employment, your VR&E counselor at Fort Bragg may approve additional required expenses.

How can I get my books now?

Your book allowance is sent to your bank or mailing address by the VA once your course schedule has been certified. If you did not submit your schedule and Request for Certification form in on time (about 4-6 weeks before the start of the term) you will need to pay for your books yourself. If you have a credit from other financial aid (PELL Grant or other scholarships) you can request the Office of Student Accounts issue a book slip to charge your books at the book store.

I am not doing very well in my class, should I withdraw?

That would be your decision, however, if you drop a course after the add-drop period you will be responsible for the tuition charges as VA will not pay for unfinished courses.

But if I stay in the class, I might fail, and then I’d have to pay VA back too, right?

No, an F means you attended class but did not score high enough to pass; VA will pay for the course and pay for you to re-take it and replace the failing grade; however you must maintain the Standards of Academic Progress as described in the MU catalog. Failure to maintain SAP will result in termination of VA benefits. Repeating classes will adversely affect your SAP but will positively affect your GPA. IMPORTANT: You cannot be certified for benefits if you do not meet the SAP or if your GPA is below 2.0 for two consecutive semesters.

What if I just stop going to the class?

In that case you would receive an unearned F, which is a punitive grade. It will affect your GPA, the last date of attendance will be reported to the VA, and the VA will not pay for that course.

But I had family problems and was unable to attend, why am I going to be punished?

The VA will consider extenuating circumstances if they are made known. You should withdraw from the class in accordance with MU procedures and provide documentation of your reasons to the Office of Veteran Services with your drop slip to include the LDA (last date of attendance). If they accept your extenuating circumstances, they might pay for the class up to the LDA but not for the entire term.

I’m using the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% rate but I keep getting an email from Methodist that my financial agreement isn’t complete. Doesn’t the VA take care of payment?

Yes, however you still need to clear through the Office of Student Accounts and sign their statement of understanding outlining your responsibilities financial-wise. For chapter 33 recipients qualified at the 100% level this is a formality but a necessity. Sorry for the inconvenience. By the way, the VA will only cover your required fees, you may have a debit balance with the Office of Student Accounts if you opt for other fees like a book slip (allowing you to charge your textbooks to the MU bookstore) or you would like a permit to be allowed to park your car on campus.

I want to stay on campus, does the VA housing stipend pay for that?

Yes and no. The housing stipend for the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a flat rate payment based on the zip code of the school paid direct to the student and it is paid at the end of each month after enrolling. This amount may or may not cover the cost of room and board at the school. The charges are payable at the time of registration. It is your responsibility to arrange with the Office of Student Accounts for payment.

I am using my Montgomery GI Bill because I was told if I use it first I can also get the Post 9/11 GI Bill, right?

It is possible. Individuals authorized more than one GI Bill benefit can use up to 48 months of benefits but only one benefit at a time. If you have used up your entire chapter 30 and have never used a different chapter (31, 32, 34, 1606 or 1607) you could be eligible for an additional 12 months if you have not reached your delimiting date. To get both the Montgomery and the 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill you would need to have completed more than 39 months of active duty.

So if I am a veteran and a military spouse, I can only use 12 months of the TOE after using my own GI Bill?

No, spouses or children using the Post 9/11 GI Bill’s Transfer of Eligibility are eligible for up to 72 months of total benefits if they are also eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in their own right.

I called VA and they said they sent the tuition payment to the school yesterday. Why doesn’t the Office of Student Accounts have it on my account?

First, the date that the VA tells you is when they released the payment, not when we receive it. Second, your payment does not come in all by itself; we may receive over a hundred payments at one time. Once the Accounting department receives the information from the bank and separates the VA Education payments so they can inform our office the payment is here, we check to ensure the correct amount was received, if not we may have to make adjustments and re-bill or return funds. If a course schedule was changed it may also effect the tuition charged and adjustments have to be made. Then we send the information to the Office of Student Accounts who may also need to make adjustments to properly process the payment to student accounts. On average you need to allow 7-10 working days for this process of checks and balances to complete.

I have made no changes to my schedule, why does it take so long to process mine?

While your particular case may be a simple one the person whose payment we received before yours may need a lot of attention. We ask that you be patient and allow us to take the time and care necessary to be accurate.

I did not receive a W-2 from VA. Do I need to pay taxes on my GI Bill benefits?

No. Any veterans’ benefits paid under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should not be reported as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will not receive a W-2 from the VA.

My award letter from VA says the school did not bill for tuition. Do I have to pay it myself?

If you are not using the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Voc-rehab you do have to make payment arrangements yourself through the Office of Financial Aid or the Office of Student Accounts. If you are using chapter 33 your course load hours are certified early so you can receive your book allowance and housing stipend. The tuition is billed after the add-drop period so you will receive an updated letter from VA once the tuition is billed.

How do I transfer my GI Bill benefits to another school?

If you are currently using Chapter 33 or Chapter 30 benefits you will need to fill out a VA Form 22-1995. If you are using Chapter 35 benefits fill out a VA Form 22-5495 and take it to the school you are planning to attend.

Why are courses that are required for my major not certified for VA Benefits?

Courses cannot be certified that you have previously passed or received transfer credit for. Courses that do not receive a punitive grade like those taken on a pass-fail or A-P-F basis cannot be certified. The MU Academic Department determines how classes are graded. The Office of Veteran Services is required to comply with Federal and State regulations concerning the administration of the GI Bill.

What about Study Abroad courses?

See the answer above. Unless an MU faculty member is the primary or assistant instructor and you receive a punitive grade, i.e. a grade that will affect your cumulative grade point average, our VA approval does not allow us to certify courses taken at other schools, inside or outside of the US.

I have a problem with the way MU is administering my benefits. Who can I talk to about it?

First, come see me and let me know you are not satisfied. I will take the time to sit down with you and make sure the problem is not a simple misunderstanding. But if you are still unsatisfied, the local chapter of the Student Veterans of America may be able to help you. Their stated mission is to assist veterans in the transition from a military to academic lifestyle through peer-to-peer counseling. Their email is sva4mu@gmail.com  and they maintain a presence in the Student Veteran Center in North Hall. Department of Veteran Affairs also has set up an on-line complaint system at http://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/Feedback.asp

I have a question that is not listed here. Can you answer it?

Contact me in the Office of Veteran Services, room 100 of Stout Hall, by phone at (910) 630-7174, e-mail randys@methodist.edu or you can go to the source at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.

Note

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).