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Do You Think What My School’s VA Office is Doing is Legitimate?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ch. 33 Question: I just want to make sure what my school’s VA office is doing is legit. I went in today to sign this Student Responsibility Agreement to ensure that I receive payment from the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m currently enrolled in 16 units this semester, but they told me to initial off on the part of the form where it says that they’ll certify me for anywhere from 7-9 units, instead of my actual 16.

They said this is a loophole that gives me less money from my book stipend, but extends time onto my Ch. 33 GI Bill, so I will technically get more money out of it. I can’t find anything online regarding this practice and it sounds kind of shady, but this is the VA office at my school and I have to assume that they have my best interests at heart. Is this practice normal and is it recommended by you?

The only other question that I had that I feel may be a smart use of my Chapter 33 benefit is regarding getting certified or paid during the breaks between semesters. I have about 18 months of entitlements remaining, but about 30 months until I graduate. It seems to me that I should not get paid over any breaks that I have because I’m exhausting the time remaining with a BAH payment, but not getting the full BAH and tuition payment. Is this true? –Dale

I’ll answer your second question first. Your line of thinking is right concerning not getting paid over the breaks, however, the VA will automatically pay you for them unless you tell them not to.

Your other question does not make any sense to me at all. Your Post 9/11 GI Bill book stipend is paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit up to $1,000 per year, which equates to 24 credits. So when you reach the $1,000 mark, your book stipend will end for the year. Whether you get paid for 18 credits or 9 this semester really doesn’t matter in the end, because you will max out your book stipend amount anyway.

And as far as the VA paying for tuition  and fees, they will pay up to the maximum amount per credit for the number of credits you take per semester. A full month of entitlement is used up for each full month of school and at the end of 36 months, your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement will run out.

Your housing allowance isn’t affected by how many credits you take either . As long as you are considered a greater-than-half-time student, you get the full amount, so 18 credits doesn’t get you anymore or less than 7 to 9 credits.

As far as my recommendation, I would play it straight with the VA. If you are taking 18 credits then certify off on 18 credits. When it comes to money and the Federal Government, deception is never a good thing.  I can’t figure out that VA Rep’s reasoning, but myself, I would not condone it.

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