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If a Student Can’t Finish Out a Semester Due to Hospitalization, What Is His or Her Liability to the GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My sister in-law is currently receiving the GI Bill Benefits and currently is enrolled as a full-time student at our university. However, she was just admitted into the hospital last night for internal bleeding. If she can’t finish this semester out due to her hospitalization, what is her liability to the GI Bill? Or will they still cover her? Your quick response is appreciated.

A: When a student cannot finish out a semester, the VA investigates to see whether the reason was due to mitigating or non-mitigating circumstances. If the reason was within the student’s control (non-mitigating), then the VA may request repayment. However, if the reason was outside the student’s control (mitigating), then most likely they would not request repayment.

In the case of your sister-in-law with internal bleeding, the VA would most likely find her reason to be mitigating and not her fault. While she would have to provide proof of mitigation, but that should be fairly easy being she had been admitted into the hospital. She would also most likely have to send in copies of doctor’s reports to substantiate her mitigation circumstances claim.

In the case of non-mitigating, the VA normally stops future GI Bill payments until the debt is either paid or a payment schedule set up. Non-mitigating reasons can be just not applying oneself studying, partying, missing classes, etc.

The VA also has a first-time/one-time drop policy where a student can drop up to six credits with no questions asked and not have to repay back the VA. However, because your sister-in-law’s case seems pretty clear-cut to me, I wouldn’t advise her to use this policy.

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