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What Would Happen to My VA Benefits If I Dropped a Class?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I started the semester with three classes for my field of study and three general classes. At the beginning of the semester, I was going to drop all three classes in my field of study, because the classes were self-paced and I was having trouble learning the material. But, I could only drop two of the classes because if I dropped all three, I would lose my benefits as I would only have six credits.

The one class I have left in my field of study is still giving me problems and I don’t want to fail. I don’t really have any mitigating circumstances. Now, I have three weeks until the last day to drop classes for my school. What would happen to my VA benefits if I dropped the class? Would I have to pay all of my housing allowance back to the VA from when I started school to the end of the semester?

A: The way the VA works is you would only have to pay back your housing allowance starting when you had dropped down to the half-time point. As you stated, in your case that was 6 credits. As longs as you were taking at least 7 credits, you were authorized the full Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

However, with the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, that will change starting on August 1st. From that point forward, students’ housing allowance amounts will be directly tied to the number of credits they are taking. For example, if you were taking 7 credits, and your school considered 12 credits to be full-time, then in theory, you would get 7/12ths or 58% of the full housing allowance. In reality, you would get 60% of the full housing allowance as the VA rounds up to the nearest tenth.

As far as tuition, if you drop a class within the school’s official drop period, you shouldn’t be required to pay back anything, however, if you drop a class outside of that timeframe, you could have to pay back the VA. It really depends on if the reason you had to drop was due to mitigating (not within your control) or non-mitigating (within your control). As you noted, your reason is non-mitigating.

The VA also has a first-time/one-time policy where you can drop up to six credits once without any questions asked and not have to repay anything. If you have not dropped classes before, you might ask your VA Certifying Official about this policy.

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