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Education and Training

85/15 Frequently Asked Questions

The 85/15 Rule

What is the purpose of the 85 Percent Rule?

The 85/15 Rule (85/15) requires that a minimal number of non-Veterans find a program worthwhile and valuable or the payment of Federal funds to Veterans who enroll in the program will not be authorized. The 85 Percent Rule prohibits paying Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to students enrolling in a program when more than 85 percent of the students enrolled in that program are having any portion of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid for them by the Education and Training Institution (ETI) or by VA under Title 38 and Title 10. If the ratio of supported students to non-supported students exceeds 85 percent, only students maintaining continuous enrollment may continue to receive benefits for that program.  

Does the 85/15 Rule apply to every ETI?

The provisions of the 85 Percent Rule do not apply to:

  • A farm cooperative training course
  • Flying clubs (also known as "aero clubs") operating under regulations of the Armed Forces as "non-appropriated sundry fund activities”
  • Veterans in pursuit of a program leading to a high school diploma, equivalency certificate, or a refresher, remedial, or deficiency course
  • Facilities that do not assess tuition, fees, or other charges (typically, those sites approved for On-The-Job [OJT] or Apprenticeship [APP] training only)

All other facilities (including but not limited to IHLs, NCDs, and Vocational Flight Schools) must comply with 85/15.


Reporting Requirements

When should the ETI submit reports?

An ETI that is structured on a term, quarter, or semester basis the routine 85/15 calculations must be provided to the Education Liaison Representative (ELR) of jurisdiction no later than 30 days after the start of each regular term.

If an ETI that is structured on a non-term basis, the previous quarter’s 85/15 calculations must be submitted to the ELR of jurisdiction no later than 30 days after the beginning of each calendar quarter. For VA purposes these calendar quarters align with the quarters of VA’s Fiscal Year.

Due Date

Enrollment Periods Beginning

January 30th

October 1 through December 31

April 30th

January 1 through March 31

July 30th

April 1 through June 30

October 30th

July 1 through September 30

Calculations for an ETI not structured on a term basis must be submitted for all enrollment periods in the previous calendar quarter. One comprehensive calculation is not acceptable, each individual enrollment period must be individually calculated and reported.

The ELR of jurisdiction can confirm your schedule will meet requirements.

If an ETI, not organized on a standard term, quarter or semester basis, but instead offers multiple modules during a calendar quarter, does the ETI have to report one combined 85/15 report or individual 85/15 reports for each module?

When calculating 85/15 for programs offered on a non-term basis (i.e., modular, cohort, etc.) the school administrators will review and report on all students enrolled in a program at the start of each module or cohort. The submission of these multiple reports is due within 30 days of the end of the quarter. This submission must include separate reports for all enrollment periods beginning during the quarter upon which the ETI is reporting.

Note: This does not apply to those programs typically referred to as “mini-mesters” offered at an otherwise traditionally term-structured institution.

How should an ETI submit 85/15 reports to VA?

Submit the 85/15 calculations to the ELR of jurisdiction for the ETI via email using the:

Note: The VA Form 22-10215a is a continuation of the primary form. It is only to be used if you need additional space and may not be accepted in place of the VA Form 22-10215. 

For schools offering vocational flight programs, a Statement of Assurance of Compliance with 85 Percent Ratios for Vocational Flight is currently in review. VA will accept the reports in the format currently in use until such time as the VA format for this vocational flight program data collection is approved.

How should an ETI that participates in centralized certification submit 85/15 reports to VA?

Each approved campus must calculate separately and submit calculations to the ELR having jurisdiction over the campus upon which the report is based. Note: With few exceptions, extension campuses are not approved independently of the parent campus. Enrollments in programs where some or all the courses are taken at an extension campus that does NOT maintain its own facility code and administrative capability must be reported under the parent campus facility code.

When should an ETI separate out any alterations to a program?

Anytime there is difference in program attendance, cost, equipment, length, or objective, a separate calculation is required. Some examples are (not limited to):

  • Modality (resident vs. distance)
  • Concentrations
  • Specializations
  • Tracks
  • Emphases

The ETI offers a dual degree, would they need to report the students enrolled in the dual degree program separately (i.e., separate them out into the respective degrees for reporting)?

Maybe. If the dual degree is approved by the State Approving Agency (SAA) of jurisdiction as a single program, then the students would only be counted in that one single program that awards a dual degree. However, if a student is enrolled in multiple degrees, in the case that the multiple degrees are not approved by the SAA as a single program, just as we would for dual majors, the student must be counted in each separately approved program under which that student is pursuing a degree-this is true for both supported and non-supported students–and is counted as a full-time or part-time student under each degree program based on the total number of credits the student is pursuing during the enrollment period.

Does the ETI need to calculate guest, non-matriculated or undeclared students?

No. There is no currently existing requirement to calculate or report guest, non-matriculated or undeclared students or undeclared students.

Are chapter 35 and chapter 31 students included in the calculations for 85/15?

Yes. Both chapter 35 and chapter 31 students are counted as supported students when calculating 85/15.

Are students participating in the Veterans Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET-TEC) program counted?

Yes. VET-TEC students enrolled in SAA-approved courses are counted as supported students for the purposes of 85/15.

Are students participating in the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) program counted?

Yes. VRRAP students enrolled in SAA-approved courses are counted as non-supported students for the purposes of 85/15. 

If the ETI does not currently have any VA students, is it still required to submit the 85/15 report?

Yes. 85/15 calculations are required for all approved programs, even in situations where there are no VA beneficiaries in a program or when there are no students actively in a program.


35 Percent Exemption

What is the difference in calculations for the 35 percent exemption and the 85/15 calculations?

35 percent exemption calculations are based on the overall percentage of the total enrollment of students who are Veterans, eligible persons, and reservists receiving assistance under 38 U.S.C. chapters 30, 31, 32, 33, 35 and 36, and 10 U.S.C. chapter 1606, and are based on actual student enrollment.

Example: 100 students are enrolled at an ETI. Of these, 25 students use assistance under Title 38 and Title 10 (i.e., “VA beneficiaries”). By dividing the number of VA beneficiaries by the total student enrollment (25 ÷ 100 = .25), the calculation for this ETI is 25%.

More information on how to perform this calculation are provided on the 35% Exemption Request from 85/15 Reporting Requirement, VA Form 22-10216

85/15 calculations are based on the percentage of supported vs. non-supported students and are based on full time equivalency. Full time equivalency is determined by training time, not rate of pursuit like Post-9/11 benefits.

Example: Student enrolled in 9 credit hours would equal 3/4 training when weighting the value of the student in the report. Instructions on how to calculate full-time equivalency are provided on the Statement of Assurance of Compliance with 85 Percent Enrollment Ratios, VA Form 22-10215

Why were 35 percent exemptions rescinded on October 1, 2021?

Reviews conducted by VA of 85/15 compliance found that a number of schools were not correctly computing the ratio of supported to non-supported students, especially schools with a generally applicable 35 percent exemption.

If an ETI previously had a 35 percent exemption, after the reset on October 1, 2021, will the ETI need to apply for a new one?

Yes. 35 percent exemption requests are accepted with the submission of 85/15 Enrollment Ratios for reporting dates beginning on or after October 1, 2021.

When granted, does the 35 percent exemption expire?

Yes. For all types of ETI, the 35 percent exemption expires 24 months from the date of issue.

Does the ETI have to retain 85/15 calculations if the school has a 35 percent exemption?

Yes. All 85/15 calculations must be retained and provided when requested by VA, SAA, and authorized Government representatives.

Can vocational flight school receive the 35 percent exemption?

There is no exclusion that would prohibit a vocational flight school from applying for the exemption.

Does VA grant 85/15 waivers or 35 percent exemptions for the Veterans Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET-TEC) program?

No.

How should an ETI submit a request for the 35 percent exemption to submitting the 85/15 reports to VA?

An ETI interested in requesting the 35 percent exemption should submit the following forms to the ELR of jurisdiction via email.

For schools offering vocational flight programs, a Statement of Assurance of Compliance with 85 Percent Ratios for Vocational Flight is currently under review. VA will accept the reports in the format currently in use until such time as the VA format for this vocational flight program data collection is approved.

All forms submitted must correspond with the current reporting period. For ETIs organized on a non-term basis, the exemption request is tied to the last enrollment period beginning during the period the report is being submitted.


Department of Defense (DoD) Exemption

If my ETI is located on a military installation, is it exempt from the 85/15 Rule?

Not necessarily. The ETI must meet all conditions listed in 38 CFR 21.4201.

  1. It must be offered under contract with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security.
  2. It must be on, or immediately adjacent to, a military base or a facility
  3. The program must be approved by the State Approving Agency of jurisdiction; AND
  4. It must be available only to:
      Military personnel and their dependents;
      Military personnel, their dependents and civilian employees of a base located in a State;
      Persons authorized by the base commander to attend the course provided the base is located outside the
          United States; or
      In the case of a program offered on or immediately adjacent to a facility of the National Guard, the Air National
         Guard or the Selected Reserve, members of the National Guard, Air National Guard, Selected Reserve and
         their dependents.

An ETI interested in confirming that has a Department of Defense Exemption must contact its ELR of jurisdiction. The Memorandum of Understanding between the ETI and the Unit, or Base, Commander is typically the only document needed to confirm of this exemption. You will receive written confirmation of the DoD Exemption from VA for your records. 

Do extension campuses located on a military base qualify for the DoD exemption from 85/15 reporting?

If it meets all the requirements listed in 38 CFR 21.4201 and maintains its own administrative capabilities, an extension campus may qualify for a DoD Exemption.


Education Service Waiver

Does an ETI have to calculate the 85/15 ratios for every semester if you get an Education Service Waiver?

If your ETI receives an Education Service Waiver, the ETI does not need to comply with 85/15 limitations for only the program(s) explicitly listed in the waiver letter for the period specified. Any other approved programs offered at the ETI are subject to the 85/15 Rule and the ETI is required to calculate and report 85/15 enrollment ratios as per normal reporting requirements.


Supported and Non-Supported Students

If a student is awarded payments from another Federal or State agency is the student counted as a supported student?

No. Use of funds from another Federal or State agency to pay for tuition, fees, and other charges does not make the student supported.  

If a student is using DoD or DHS Tuition Assistance, MyCAA, or some other type of federally funded program but is not using any VA benefits or receiving any type of restricted aid from the institution, would he or she be considered a non-supported student?

A student receiving Federal or State funded assistance alone would be considered non-supported.

If the student is receiving multiple types of aid and any of it is supported, the student must be counted as a supported student.

Some states offer a benefit that is available only after all other benefits, to include VA benefits, are fully exhausted. If the beneficiary is entitled to less than 100 percent benefit level for chapter 33, it would be available to cover the percentage not covered by chapter 33. Should ETI count these students as supported if they are receiving this benefit?

State grants, such as those available under the Hazelwood Act, Illinois Veterans Grant, the California College Promise Grant, are considered third party aid. Students receiving third party aid and no other aid that would require they be counted as supported students, are considered non-supported.


Restricted Aid

How can I tell if institutional aid is "restricted aid"?

If the aid somehow disqualifies all students receiving VA benefits, all students in receipt of the aid must be counted as supported students.

If students receiving GI Bill benefits can access the aid, without having to relinquish their GI Bill benefits, then the aid is considered unrestricted and other students receiving that aid can be counted non-supported students.

When determining if aid is restricted, what does "unequal" mean as it relates to institutional aid?

If the terms for awarding institutional aid, either in writing OR in application, serve to exclude VA beneficiaries from receiving that aid, then the aid is considered to be "unequal."

Can an ETI obligate a student to decline an institutional scholarship in order to be certified for GI Bill® benefits?

Yes, but all students receiving the scholarship then become supported students.

Are graduate students calculated as non-supported when the student is receiving restricted aid?

Graduate students in receipt of institutional aid are considered Non-Supported for purposes of 85/15 calculations. Graduate students who meet other supported student criteria (i.e., are using GI Bill® benefits) must be counted as supported students.


Suspension and Review

What is the difference in an 85/15 suspension vs SAA suspension? If the ELR sends a referral to the SAA due to neglect to comply who suspends the facility, the ELR or SAA?

The ELR suspends for payment, because of 85/15 violation. SAA suspends approval for violations for failure to produce records. A program can be suspended for both at the same time.

What is the process for a program suspended for a violation of the 85/15 Rule?

If a violation occurs, the program is given a payment suspension (which should not be confused with an approval suspension). This payment suspension means that payment for certifications will automatically be denied for any newly enrolling VA beneficiaries receiving benefits under Title 38 or Title 10 (except those VA beneficiaries utilizing chapters 31 and 35).

Continuously enrolled VA beneficiary students may continue to be certified for a program suspended for 85/15 provided they were enrolled in, and attending, the program during the previous term without a break in enrollment (a break over a summer term is not considered a break in enrollment).

The 85/15 suspension alone does not affect the approval of the program as SAA maintain program approval authority.

Is there a violation when there is only one supported student in the entire degree program?

If a program only has one supported student then the program will not be suspended, however the school may not certify another supported student until at least one non-supported student enrolls.

An ETI has two supported students enrolled in an approved program, but each of the students is enrolled at half-time (0.5). The total number of supported students is 2 but the FTE is 1. Since the supported student FTE is 1, is the program still compliant?

No. Under this provision, VA allows that only one supported student may be enrolled in the program without taking action to suspend the program. 

What if a student's enrollment shouldn't have been certified?

Exceeding the 85/15 ratio prohibits an ETI from certifying any new supported students. If the program exceeds 85 percent enrollment of supported students at the beginning of the term, no additional supported students may be certified until the program is compliant. 

Note: If on compliance it is found that an ETI certified a supported student when the overall enrollment ratio of supported students already exceeded 85 percent, then the surveyor will review for patterns of this type of occurrence. Multiple or habitual occurrences would be identified as a risk factor and would require a full review of the institution, which may lead to a referral for school liability, and/or investigation to identify possible fraud.

When conducting a compliance survey, do surveyors ask for the 85/15 calculations that were last submitted to the ELR or obtain new calculations?

The surveyor will request all 85/15 reports for the survey period.

If a 35 percent exemption was recently approved, does the 85/15 calculation need to be reviewed by the surveyor?

Yes. The 35 percent exemption does not de-obligate the school from calculating 85/15 for each enrollment period and producing those reports during a compliance survey.


 

The 85/15 Rule Full-Time Equivalency Suspension and Review
Restricted Aid Supported and Non-Supported Students   Reporting Requirements
35 Percent Exemption DoD Exemption Education Service Waiver