Veterans Benefits FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Veterans Certification Request Form

 

Q: How do I submit my Veterans Certification Request Form?

 

A: You may submit your form in person (our office is located on the 1st floor of Filippi Administrative Building), or by email: lak5@stmarys-ca.edu

 

Q: What happens if I don’t submit my form?

 

A: We will not be able to certify you for any term without the request form. The request form must be submitted for each term you would like to use your veteran benefits.

 

Q: When should I submit my form?

 

A: You can submit your form once you have registered for classes. If you know your schedule will be changing, it is good to wait until you believe your schedule is set for the term. You may also submit your form once the term has started, understanding that it will still take the VA up to 30 days to process your certification, once the school has certified your coursework.

 

Q: What if I am unsure of my current amount of entitlement?

 

A: You can check your entitlement by contacting the VA at 1-888-442-4551.

 

Q: What if I only have a partial amount of entitlement left?

 

A: You do not need to have a full 4 months of entitlement for the term, the VA will allow us to certify you for the term, however, they may only pay a portion of the benefits, the VA can explain to you what would be covered based on your eligibility and entitlement.

 

Course Applicability

 

Q: How do I know what courses apply?

 

A: It’s important to understand your program’s requirements. Meet with your advisor regularly. You are also able to check your Academic Evaluation at any time on GaelXpress 2.0. The audit may not be available for some graduate programs.

 

Q: I want to study abroad. How will this affect my VA benefits?

 

A: Unfortunately, the VA will not pay for Study Abroad programs here at SMC.

 

Schedule Changes

 

Q: Who do I notify if my schedule changes?

 

A: As soon as you have added or dropped the course, please contact the school certifying official and notify them so they can review your certification and determine what should be reported to the VA.

 

Q: What happens to my certification when I drop a class and I’m Chapter 35, 30, 1606, or 1607?

 

A: Chapters 35, 30, 1606, & 1607: As long as you are not changing your enrollment status (full time to part time for example), there is no issue with dropping/adding required courses. If you are reducing your academic load below full time, we will need to report the change to the VA and this will likely affect your benefit payment.

 

Q: What happens to my certification when I drop a class and I am Chapter 31 or 33?

 

A: All changes to classes you are certified for must be reported to the VA. If you withdraw from a course that the VA has already paid tuition for, you may incur a debt and be responsible to cover the tuition for that course. It is important to notify your school certifying official of any changes and receive advice about how those changes can affect your certification status with the VA.

 

Major Declaration

 

Q: Declaring a major before I reach junior standing, does this mean I have 3 years to declare my major?

 

A: No, junior academic standing refers to the number of credits you have towards your program and not how long you have been a student at SMC.

 

Q: What happens if I don’t declare and I reach junior standing?

 

A: We review the standing of undeclared students each time a certification request is submitted, if you are at junior standing, you will be notified that we are unable to certify you until you delacre a major.

 

Yellow Ribbon

 

Q: What if I am eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

 

A: The Yellow Ribbon award is used to pay the difference in tuition for Post 9/11 GI Bill® recipients attending a private. We grant awards based on a first-come-first-served basis. You must be admitted to a program listed below to receive funding. Yellow Ribbon recipients will continue to receive the grant each year until degree completion or formal separation from the institution.

Saint Mary's maximum award limit of student grants for the 2022-2023 academic year is listed below.

Undergraduate - up to $14,000 with the VA matching the amount.

NOTE: Yellow Ribbon is not available in the summer.

Graduate Business - 6 applicants up to $5,000 with the VA matching the amount.

Graduate Education - 4 applicants up to $6,000 with the VA matching the amount.

 Yellow Ribbon students will be granted up to $26,381.37 each academic year (2022-23) from their Post 9-11 GI Bill®.  Once exhausted, the yellow ribbon will be used up to the maximum, if necessary.

 

Course Dates

 

Q: How will my course dates affect my enrollment?

 

A: The VA requires we separate courses based on the actual dates the courses begin and end. The VA reviews your rate of pursuit based on each day you are enrolled and the number of credits you are enrolled in on that day. If a course runs shorter than the entire term, your rate of pursuit will change throughout the term.

 

Minimum Credits for Graduation

 

Q: Once I have met all my degree requirements, if I still have eligible benefits, can I delay my graduation and stay an extra term to receive benefits?

 

A: You may not continue to use VA benefits to cover courses that are not required for your current declared degree.

 

Grades

 

Q: What happens if I receive an Incomplete “I” in my last term?

 

A: We will need to report this incomplete as any other non-punitive grade; the VA may decide to charge you with a debt for the course.

 

Q: If I receive a grade of Incomplete, and it is reported to the VA, what happens if I complete the course?

 

A: If you complete a reported incomplete within one year, you may request your SCO report the update to the VA and possibly waive any debt you may have incurred due to the incomplete.

 

Q: What happens if I receive a non-punitive grade?

 

A: If the course was certified, we will need to report that a non-punitive grade was received. You may incur a debt from the VA.

 

Q: What if I am placed on academic probation or suspension?

A: If you are placed on academic suspension, your status will be reported to the VA at the conclusion of the term and final grades are posted. If you cannot register for course for an upcoming term, then you cannot receive any VA benefits at SMC until you regain satisfactory academic status.

 

Repeating Courses

 

Q: What happens if my program requires I receive a higher grade in a course?

 

A: If your program requires a specific grade (example: a C- or higher in ENGL 101 and you receive a “D” in the course), you may repeat the course to achieve the minimum grade requirement. However, if you received the minimum required grade but wish to retake the course for a higher grade, the VA would not allow that course to be certified.

 

Q: What if I fail the course multiple times?

 

A: As long as the course is a REQUIRED course for your program, you may repeat it until you meet the minimum passing requirement.

 

Tuition and Housing Payments

 

Q: When will I receive my Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)?

 

A: Once certified, it takes approximately 30 days for the VA to process payment. However, the payments are made at the beginning of each month to pay for the previous month (example: September MHA would be paid in October). Payments are sent directly to the student.

 

Q: My MHA seems to be different each month why?

 

A: MHA is based on ACTUAL dates of enrollment. If the term begins on September 4, you would be paid beginning Sept. 4, you would not receive payment for Sept. 1 – 3. In addition, if classes end on May 2, you would only receive payments for May 1 and 2, not the rest of the month. This can cause payments to be slightly different from month to month.

 

Q: If I have 100% eligibility under Chapter 33, do I have to pay my tuition charges upfront?

 

A: No. Once certified, students receiving benefits under Chapters 31 and 33 will have a VA credit applied to their account for the tuition/fee amount our school expects to receive directly from the VA. This process enables the student to access any financial aid awards and avoid penalties due to delayed tuition and fee disbursement from the VA. When the actual payment from the VA is received, your account will be reconciled and you will be notified of any payment discrepancies. Students using Chapter 31 or 33 benefits will have any tuition-related late fees waived provided they have paid any other student obligations by the established due dates.

 

Q: Do I have to pay housing charges upfront?

 

A: Any housing-related charges must be paid by the established due dates. Contact the Business Office for any questions regarding payment plans.

 

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill