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How Does a Foreign School Get a Course VA-Approved?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi I’m trying to get some help with using my Post 9/11 GI Bill in the UK and I’m hitting a brick wall at every turn when trying to talk to the VA. All the universities I’m looking at are approved, but the program I want (MA Archaeology) hasn’t been approved at 90% or more of them. My question is this, do you have any advice in trying to go through this approval process, because the lack of information or help on the VA’s end is really frustrating.

A: Being 10% of the universities do have an approved master’s program in Archaeology, it leads me to believe that it is not an issue at the VA. If it was, they most likely would not have approved any archeology master programs.

I think the issue lies with the universities not sending in an approval request to the VA asking for approval of that particular program, so student can use their Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend. As you are finding out, just because a university is VA-approved, it does not mean all their programs are approved.

Of course the easy answer is to choose one of the 10% whose program is already approved, but most likely that is at one of the universities you do not want to attend. The other option is to pick out one or two universities and ask them to send an approval request to the VA to get their master’s program in archeology approved. They can see the approval process by going to this VA’s website page.

It really isn’t a VA issue which is probably why you are hitting a brick wall – it is a college issue needing to go through the VA’s approval process.

1 response on “How Does a Foreign School Get a Course VA-Approved?

It IS a VA issue. Walk the universities through the process of submitting required documentation and you will see that your brick wall doesn’t go away. The phone numbers for the VA’s Foreign School Approval Group will hang up on you again and again without letting you ever speak to a person. Not even the other regional offices can call them. They exist just like seal team 6. Reports say that it can take over a year to get a program approved, so have serious personal financing lined up or wait to pull the trigger until the VA actually approves the program.

Combine all of that with many schools’ unwillingness to help with financial aid for potential applicants who have not yet been accepted and the necessary application deadlines for both the universities and the VA forms, and you have a very, very difficult situation.

If you count on the GI Bill to support you living and attending school overseas you should have a cushion of AT LEAST 6 months and more like 1 year of money. You will have periods when you are paying your bills with no help at all.

How they expect you to pay rent during breaks during holidays, I have no idea. Apparently the VA thinks that veterans who may be alone on the far side of the water should skip Christmas dinner and the 4th of July.

Then again, the universities on the list are one there because some hard-chargin’ vet made it up the hill and raised their flag on top. It’s possible. Just be sure you plan for all eventualities, or you just might get stuck over there without enough money for a ticket home.

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