VA Offers Quick Tips for Vet Students

Source: Dept. of Veterans Affairs

We’re in the last days of summer, which means a new semester is coming up for folks using VA education benefits. And for some, it might be the first time attending school using the GI Bill. So here are a few tips that will help you spend more time thinking about homework and exams and less time thinking about paperwork:

– Before you start class, make sure to certify your enrollment with the certifying official on campus. They’re usually found within financial aid, but they may be elsewhere. Double check to make sure your paperwork is in order.

– If you’re using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you may be eligible for a book stipend. To make sure your money stretches far, consider renting your textbooks from the campus bookstore or online retailers instead of buying them.

– Make sure to notify your certifying official of any changes to your schedule once you certify. Any modifications can change your tuition or housing payments, so make sure you fill them in as soon as possible.

– Ask around for a Veterans group on campus. Student Veteran groups have pushed for more resources and assistance at hundreds of campuses across the country. If there isn’t a group at your school, consider starting one.

– Track news, announcements, helpful information on VA’s GI Bill page. You can also follow our GI Bill Facebook page and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Twitter feed.

– Remember to stop, take a breath, and enjoy your time in college.

About the Author

Terry Howell
Before becoming the Managing Editor for, Terry served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate and aircrewman. In his final role in the Coast Guard, Terry served as a Career Development Advisor, where he provided career, finance, education, and benefits counseling to servicemembers and their families. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Terry has authored the book, The Military Advantage, managed the content for TurboTap, the DoD's online transition program and VAforVets, the VA's transition assistance website. Terry earned both his Bachelor's and MBA at Corban University using Military Tuition Assistance and his GI Bill benefits to help cover the cost.
  • mark

    The “Full Story” link is broken.

    • tdhowell

      Thanks! – Should work now.

      • aduff

        Nope, still broke.
        It works, in that it takes you right back to this page. I think this is possibly more an issue of- there is no more story, but they left the “full story” text/link there.

        • tdhowell

          That is the full story.

  • tonya

    Be prepared to spend out of pocket!!! This is my 3rd semester and school started 8/22, I am still waiting on book $ and tuition $. When I called to find out what the hold up was…I was told they were behind…No estimate on when my $ would be paid!

    • Jason mesa

      So it’s been 6 days and your complaining? I’ve been waiting since June 5 2012

      • Alexandria

        The VA is very behind right now. Be patient.

    • Mom

      Hi Tonya,
      We were told you always get paid the month AFTER you attend classes. You should look to start being paid Sept 30…….Your school should have a ‘Do not drop’ indicator so that you do not have to pay tuition, school should be waiting for GI bill money….Rent your books on Chegg….good luck.

    • marcee

      Most schools will offer deferments for tuiton, fees and books. If they don’t they are in violation. Ask the VA rep. at the school you are attending. We offer them here and they extend until the last day of the semester.

  • Anna

    I’ve been using my Post 9/11 for over two years, and over the last few months my BAH is messed up. Not receiving full entitlement, no book money, 7 to 8 weeks AFTER I finish a class. It’s just horrible. My school Univ of Phoenix, is reporting my attendance after the second class so that is almost two weeks into school then the VA takes about 23 days to process. I have had to start taking loans where I used to rely on my BAH. It takes a week to get a call back from the VA, and still no answers. Not everyone or every school has these problems, but even if things are going smooth, eventually, that stops. I hope it gets worked out soon…

  • MSS

    Had some delays initially but for this year the VA actually paid the tuition to the school before classes began on 27 Aug 12 and already received book payments.

  • Big Jim

    To my fellow vets, Welcome Home. I have been in school for 2 years now, and have found out that Voc Rehab can be a good way to go if you qualify. Regarless getting set up for the 9/11 or the MGI education system can be time consuming. hang in there.

    • marcee

      You can, now, receive the pay of the Post 9/11 while using Vo-Rehab. IF you served and qualified for Post 9/11, of course.

  • J Shaver

    The VA never returned my documentation to the school I wanted to attend on three occasions and eventually my time to use the benefit that I paid into expired. VOCRehab said I would qualify if I quit my job, but because I was currently employed I was turned down … the entire reason I wanted to enroll in the program was so I could get educated to do something that wasn’t as physically difficult for me. I guess I will have to lose my job and house before I qualify.

    • Mom

      You need to get in contact with your local VA and VFW reps…sounds like you need some help. Shouldn’t be this difficult.

    • marcee

      I do the VA certifying and you shouldn’t have to quit your job. I have student who are Vo-Rehab and they work. Maybe if you worked part time you could survive off of the pay they give because this program pays less than all others because they cover other things like materials to complete the program, a computer, supplies. Chapter 30 expires after 10 years of being out of the service. Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 expires after 15 years of being out of the service, so it’s not like you have to move quick but they will expire).

  • Steve

    Sounds like you procrastinated .

    How many years is it again before your VA Ed benefit expires?
    is it still 8 ?

    yea definitely sounds like you procrastinated .

    You know what they say, use it or lose it .

    No ones going to come knocking at your door with a big government check and enrolment forms ..

    • Kerry

      Semester fees,
      Good morning VA. I have used my GI bill up and my family knows this. Would you have any advice or assistance I can look into I am running 9n a very low income at the moment and getting ti where I can’t afford my mortgage.

      Thank you kindly.

      Kerry A. Tucker

      • Mom

        If you used the Montgomery GI bill, you can probably get 12 months of post 911 GI bill as long as you served post 911…thats if you didn’t already transfer over and use the post 911 bill…..

    • Alexandria

      depends on what benefit you’re using.
      Ch.30- MGIB, expires 10 years after your ETS date.
      Ch.33- Post 9-11 GIBILL expires 15 years after your ETS date.

  • rock57t0749

    I think if all the elected goverment officials would take a pay and benfit cut, then and only then would more jobs be created and give all military personal the save benfits that they are now receiving we would have a better country and life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Rock

  • camella

    Are there any educational assistance programs for retired military spouses?

    • Alexandria

      unfortunetly not, unless your spouse is on disibility, then you could possibly qualify for ch,35.

      • Mom

        If your spouse didn’t use their GI bill and spent more than 6 years active duty they may be able to give you their GI bill…

        • marcee

          Not unless the Veteran gave it up BEFORE he got out and only CHAPTER 33 POST 9/11 is transferable. It is used as a retention tool. The active person has to sign up for 4 more years to transfer benefits to any family member.

  • Mary

    How many classes are considered full time? I take two classes on campus 6 credit hours. How many classes do I need to qualify for the housing stipen? Im in the VocRehab program.


    • Denise

      to make the most out of your benefits, you would want to go full time, it also depends on the college as well, is 6 hours quarter hours, is it six weeks? Usually, full time is at least 12 hours. If you can, go for it all and make the best of it. I know sometimes it can be hard to go full time, but you can do it, and make the best out of your benefits so they count for you! I am just got approved for the vocational rehab training myself, and I plan on going as many hours as I can, but I no longer have little kids to worry about, I am pretty good at setting up a routine to study, and already have about 45 credit hours that I had before I had several back surgeries that set me back from my goals. this is perfect, because it is going for the filled I wanted with an associates, and then I can continue on for my undergrad. remember, it doesn’t matter your age, your gonna age anyway, so you might as well and do all you can while you can, because you never know what is next in life. good luck to you and good for you for going back to school!

      • Denise

        and that is field, not filled…..sorry, fingers typing too fast and watching tv at the same time is never a good thing!

  • Retiree

    This is my first time back in school since my retirement 08′; called the VA (i’m using Post 9/11 GI Bill) they said it could take up to 5 weeks to receive my payment, because they were behind…not understanding with this age of technology, data entry should be a breeze….we should not have to pay out of pocket…just my two cents..

  • marcee

    Folks, most schools offer deferment on the tuition bill and the bookstore until the VA pays. Please check with your VA Reps. at each school you are thinking of attending. If I am not mistaken it is part of the agreement we have to extend to participate. Please people don’t assume anything and don’t ask a friend…this is YOUR future, not your friends, while they may “think” they know, they might not know. Parking Lot advising gets bad info. out in the world. If you don’t know the answers please don’t give an answer to a veteran….they can CALL THE SCHOOLS THEY ARE PLANNING TO ATTEND OR AT LEAST READ THE VA WEBSITES. http://WWW.GIBILL.VA.GOV Thanks for your service to our country…I wish you all, the very best God has!

  • Robert

    I am currently using the VOC – Rehab system through the VA. I am in my 3rd symester at JCC in New York, and have not had one problem that was not resolved or explained in detail by the staff.
    My tuition was paid, books and supplies paid on time, and equipment purchased that I needed. If you are truly having problems with this program, it is not the programs fault. Maybe a rep did not get paperwork in on time, or you (yourself ) did not file required documents ontime.
    I call and email my rep atleast once a week and make sure everything is in order. You can not expect the reps to handle dozens or hundreds of cases without your cooperation and assistance. Remember when we were active, WHO is ultimately responsible for getting it done? YOU ARE!

  • Jerry

    Hello Fellow Vets,
    Welcome home and thankyou for your service! I just want to say I have been in school for 1 term so far. I will say this “I recieved a partial payment from the VA my 3rd week and my certification letter my 4th week!” If your having issues it’s due to your submission or lack of info. I’m sure there’s 1 out of 20 reps that are not 100% on thier game. But that leaves 19 other good reps! I applied for my post 911 gi bill myself! I am proud to say God is good, I am blessed and highly favored! If your having difficulties hang in there! God has a plan for us all and it’s not a bad one. Good luck to all of you vets and reguardless whom takes office, let us make a positive change in this country. This country we love so much and lets remember, “Not all of us are here to enjoy going back to school!”

  • mike

    Please help. This is my first time back in school since 2001. It took me awhile to figure out what I’m suppose to do with me life. Now that I think I know I’m trying to use my benefits before time runs out. Is there a way to extend my G.I. Bill so I can get the most out of it? If so who do I call or write to? The person at my school who is handling vets is BRAND NEW and isn’t much help. Thanks for any help you can give.