Effective August 1, 2019, schools are not allowed to penalize or prohibit a GI Bill student from attending or participating in courses while awaiting VA payment (for up to 90 days). See the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018 for more information.
While the policy must be in place by August 1, 2019, the SAA will determine where this information will be available. Approved institutions must have this information available to students in either the school’s catalog, through an addendum, or on their Website. In addition, the VA GI Bill Comparison Tool will identify schools that have additional requirements.
Yes. The law allows schools to require students to submit a COE in order to qualify for the protections listed in the law. If a student does not comply with their school’s requirement, the student is not protected and the school is allowed to charge a late fee. That late fee, which is due to the student’s failure, will be owed by the student. Even if the student ultimately submits a COE and VA pays tuition and fees, the late fee cannot be reimbursed to the student.
PLEASE NOTE: An institution MUST have a “late fee” policy/requirement in place at the time it’s charged and not created specifically to charge GI Bill benefit recipients.
VA defines “certificate of eligibility” to be any documentation provided by VA that serves to verify eligibility under chapter 31 or 33. The policy permits a student to attend their course of education when the student provides the necessary eligibility documentation, until the earlier of either:
Educational institutions are still permitted to require a student using chapter 31 or 33 to take the following additional actions:
The educational institution must adopt policy to ensure that it does not impose any penalty, including:
No. The law prohibits the school from requiring a student to use his or her federal financial aid, or other sources of payment for tuition and fees while it awaits VA payments within the 90-day period. However, schools are not prohibited from allowing a student to utilize his or her federal financial aid, or any sort of aid or loan for tuition/fees during the interim period if the student wishes to do so. What a school may not do is insist that the student utilize this aid, take out loans, or do anything else so that the tuition and fees are paid in advance of the VA benefit payment.
Submit a complaint to VA through the GI Bill School Feedback System.
A school may require a student to pay any charges for which there is no expectation VA will pay based on statute or VA regulations. Some examples are:
The school may use standard collection policies for these amounts, including the assessment of late fees. Also, if the amount that VA eventually pays is less than what the school anticipated receiving, the school is free to levy a fee or require the student to pay for the unmet charges. Contact your School Certifying Official to discuss any fees you may have been charged erroneously.
The new legal requirement goes into effect on August 1, 2019. SAAs are not required to immediately disapprove non-compliant schools on August 1, 2019. Instead, if an SAA determines that a school is not in compliance, it will take appropriate corrective action, including suspension where warranted under 38 CFR § 21.4259. This will give the school 60 days to come into compliance or receive a waiver. If the school does not come into compliance or receive a waiver within 60 days, the SAA should withdraw approval under 38 U.S.C. § 3679. At the time an SAA determines a school in not in compliance due to reasons outside of the school’s direct control (for example, if action is required by the state legislature), the SAA may also recommend that the school request a waiver from the VA through the SAA.
A waiver will only be granted if the educational institution was prohibited from coming into compliance. Please contact your SAA for details and guidance.