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Can I Get Break Pay and Take the Summer Off?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Break pay is when there is a break in school less than the previous time you went to school right? Shouldn’t we be able to take summer off and still get paid because it is less time than the previous term? Normally 12 weeks, but summer is 8? I’m a full-time student, but I feel like I should get a break just like normal students that get the summer time off.

A: No, that is not quite the correct definition of a “break” or “interval”. According to the VA’s website, they will not pay break pay if:

  • the break is MORE than 56 days;
  • the terms either BEFORE or AFTER are shorter than the break;
  • the student changes schools and the break is MORE than 30 days;
  • the student changes schools and programs;
  • training time prior to the break is less than 1/2 time (rate of pursuit is less than 50%);
  • the student is on active duty;
  • the school does not operate on term, quarter, or semester basis;
  • enrollment in non-standard terms is not consecutive.

VA also doesn’t pay break pay if:

  • you specifically state that you don’t want payment for the break. You must make the request BEFORE VA actually authorizes payment for the break;
  • your entitlement will run out during the break;
  • you withdraw from all courses or discontinue training during the term preceding the break.

You indicated in your question that your summer break was 8 weeks, which is two months or 60+ days. Any way you slice it, it is still over the 56-day limit for break pay.

Also, keep in mind break pay is not free. It eats up your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and you are not getting any college credits for the time you lose. You are better off getting a job over the summer and not use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits just for the break pay, even it is was authorized.

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