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What Can We Do to Straighten Out This Mess?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband goes to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He meets 100% of the requirements for the New 9/11 GI Bill. He is earning his masters in Engineering and all of the classes offered are on campus, but also can be taken online. He will be attending all his classes in the actual classroom on campus, but because there is an online option he is being denied the housing stipend. What can we do about this? Who should he contact? The school told him he would have get a minor in something that offers only on-campus classes, but this will set him behind and he won’t be able to graduate when he needs to. Please help us! Thanks!

A: I know of no VA rule that says if an online and on-campus option both exist for the same course, that you can’t get the housing allowance if you choose the on-campus option. All an online-only student has to do to get the housing allowance is take one on campus class per term that pertains to his/her degree plan.

I suspect something along the way is screwed up. It sounds like the VA thinks he is taking the online only option in which he would not be authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

I don’t agree with your school’s reasoning either as far as getting a minor in something offered as only an on-campus class. That’s crazy – I hope it wasn’t the school VA certifying Official that told you that, because that is where I recommend you go next.

My first stop would be with the school’s VA Certifying Official. I suspect the form he/she sent into the VA is filled out wrong. It might show him taking the online option instead of on campus. If the form is filled out right (or you don’t get anywhere with that person), then my next call would be to either your State or Regional VA Office. Explain what is fact and the response you got and see if they can straighten it out. The smaller offices are usually more responsive than the main VA Office.

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