How do I apply for my VA benefits?
- Go to the VA website at www.gibill.va.gov and click on the blue “Apply for Benefits” box in the lower half of the page.
- Once you apply for your benefits, the VA will send you correspondence regarding your application that includes your eligibility status and length of benefits. Depending on the volume of work at the VA (heavier around the start of a semester) this could take 4-10 weeks until it arrives in your mailbox.
- If you have any questions regarding your application, call the VA at (888) 442-4551.
Where is the best place to compare my VA benefits option?
- Use the VA's "Roadmap to Success" to help you determine which benefit is best for you.
- For those eligible to receive tuition assistance through National Guard or Army Reserves, please factor those programs into your VA benefit choice. A lower percentage of Chapter 33 eligibility might not be a valuable as tuition assistance coupled with Chapter 1607.
- Understand the cost of attendance for the program of study you wish to pursue when factoring your benefit choice. You can find this information at www.pierpont.edu.
- If you have questions about your VA benefits eligibility, please contact the VA at (888) 442-4551.
How do I get started on Army Reserve or National Guard tuition assistance?
Our website, Tuition Assistance Procedures, will guide you through the tuition assistance process for Army Reserves and WV National Guard.
Do I have to do WAVES?
- Chapters 1606, 1607, and 30 must verify attendance beginning on the last day of each month you have attended through the VA’s Waves system or call in at (877) 823-2378.
- Students receiving benefits under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11), Chapter 31 (Voc Rehab), or Chapter 35 (DEA), do not have to do WAVES.
Why haven’t I been paid? So, you think you’ve done everything you need to do to receive your benefit payments. Let’s double check.
- Have you completed the VA application process ENTIRELY, including making a benefit choice? If you have any questions about this, call the VA (888) 442-4551.
- Have you submitted the school’s Veterans Certification of Enrollment Card (Green Card) to our Financial Aid office? That is how we know you want to use your benefits for the semester, and it tells us to verify your enrollment with the VA. Without it, there is no money coming to you. You must complete and submit one EVERY SEMESTER.
- When did you submit your Green Card? The closer to the start of the semester you turn in your Green Card the LONGER it takes the VA to process the certification we submit on your behalf. In the fall semester of 2010, a certification done during the first week of school took 2 months for the VA to process.
- Did you do WAVEs? If you are Chapter 1606, 1607, or 30, you have to verify your attendance the last day of each month during the semester through the VA WAVES system or by phone at (877) 823-2378.
- Understand that the VA pays in arrears. If you start a fall semester on August 23rd than you will not get paid until September. This payment will be prorated to reflect the 8 days in August you attended (Aug 23-30).
- If you’re transferring Chapter 33 entitlement, please verify the process is complete. Once the veteran submits his/her application to the Dept. of Defense and the DoD responds with your approval, the beneficiary must apply with the VA through their VONAPP system (VA Form 22-1990e). The student’s social security number, not the veteran's, will be the claim number with the VA.
BAH and things you might not understand.
- Basic Allowance for Housing is a benefit under the Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill.
- For those attending our institutions in the Fairmont zip code of 26554, the rate is $1,176 for vets eligible at 100%. For those at less than 100% eligibility, just multiply $1,176 by your eligible percentage to find your BAH rate.
Enrollment guidelines to receive BAH:
- You must be enrolled in at least 1 credit hour that is on a campus throughout the semester. The VA calls this taking a class brick and mortar. Any branch location is considered "on campus." It does not have to be on the Main Campus in Fairmont.
- You must be enrolled in 51% of full time as determined by the VA
- For the Fall and Spring semesters you must be enrolled in at least 7 hours with at least 1 hour on campus.
For the summer sessions:
- Attending just the 10 week session – 4 hours will get BAH
- Attending 1st 5 week session – 3 hours will get BAH
- Attending 2nd 5 week session – 3 hours will get BAH
- Example: Taking 3 hours in the 10 week session and 3 hours in the 1st 5 week session, with at least 1 hour brick and mortar, will get you BAH during the 1st 5 week session, but you WILL NOT receive BAH during the remainder of the 10 week session when you are only enrolled in 3 hours. The VA will determine that you are not considered 51% of full time for the remaining 5 weeks.
- Example: If you take two 3 hour online courses during the 10 week session and one 3 hour course on campus during the 1st 5 week session, you will receive BAH during the 1st 5 weeks but WILL NOT receive it once your on campus class is complete.
They do not prorate BAH. If you are 51% of full time and eligible for BAH, you will receive the entire amount.
You are only using benefits at the rate of enrollment. If you are in 9 hours, you will receive the full BAH. However, you will only be using 9/12 of a month of benefits for each month of the semester. This might be amended with future government legislation.
- Break Pay is the pay you receive during breaks in your educational training.
- Christmas is a paid break.
- Break Pay is at the rate of the previous enrollment status. So if you were, half time, you will receive break pay at half time.
But the summer sessions are a little tricky. If you attended the spring semester and..
- the 10 week summer session – you will receive pay continuously. If you attend a spring semester, the 10 week session, and then the next fall semester, you will receive pay continuously throughout the calendar year.
- the 1st 5 week session – you will receive pay continuously through June when the session ends.
- the 2nd 5 week session – you WILL NOT receive break pay during the summer. You will receive pay for the time of the 2nd 5 week enrollment only. The 2010 2nd 5 week session ran 6/28 – 7/29. You would receive prorated pay in July for the 3 days in June you attended and then a full pay in August for the month of July's attendance.
- the 1st AND 2nd 5 week sessions – you will receive pay continuously just like attending the 10 week session.
If you do receive break pay, you will be charged against your benefit time according to your enrollment status during the preceding term. So if you are taking 4 hours during the 10 weeks summer session the VA qualifies that at half-time. The pay during August that falls after the summer session and before the fall semester will be charged against your benefits at a half-time rate.
You can elect to NOT receive break pay. If you are close to using your remaining benefits and they will exhaust during the Christmas Break, you can elect to not receive break pay during Christmas to extend your benefits into a spring semester. Some Chapters state if your benefits exhaust in the middle of a term, the VA will pay benefits throughout the semester. So, if getting paid for Christmas break will exhaust your benefits, you can elect to not receive them and then start them again when the spring semester starts. Even though they might exhaust 1 month into the spring semester, the VA will pay some chapters for the entire spring term.
Summer enrollment status with the VA
Our school policy and financial aid definitions for full-time are different than the VA's. Pierpont and financial aid considers all the summer sessions to be one term for enrollment status. Full time under this policy is 12 hours. If you take 3 hours in the 10 week session, 3 hours in the 1st 5 week session and 4 hours in the 2nd 5 week session, you are taking 10 hours for the summer and are considered a 3/4 time student.
The VA' breaks their enrollment status down to time frames based on the length of our summer terms.
5 week sessions break down like this:
- 4 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 14 hours
- 3 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 10 hours
- 2 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 7 hours ( >50% and BAH eligible)
If you take a 2 hour class during a 5 week summer session, the VA will state you are taking the equivalent of 7 hours or half-time deduct benefits at that rate.
If you take 2 hours or more on campus during the 5 week session and receive Chapter 33 benefits, you will receive full BAH. They will still only deduct 7/12 of a month of benefits from you for your enrollment period.
10 week session breaks down like this:
- 7+ hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 12+ hours
- 6 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 10 hours
- 5 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 9 hours
- 4 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 7 hours ( >50% and BAH eligible)
- 3 hours enrolled = VA Equivalent 5 hours
If you take a 4 hour class during the 10 week summer session, the VA will state you are taking the equivalent of 7 hours or half-time and deduct benefits at that rate.
If you take 4 or more hours during the 10 week session and at least 1 hour is on campus, you will receive full BAH.
VA benefits, financial aid and special circumstances
- Your VA benefits do not affect your financial aid.
- It is not considered income on your FAFSA and does not reduce your eligibility for grants or loans.
- Your active duty status can make you an Independent student as defined by the Department of Education for financial aid reasons. If you served active duty for AT LEAST ONE DAY OTHER THAN BASIC TRAINING or subsequent job training, you are considered an independent student and should mark Veteran on your FAFSA.
- Basic training or job training alone does NOT qualify you as an Independent student. Do NOT mark Veteran on your FAFSA.
If the military was your job prior to coming to school and now you are no longer working, your current financial situation can be reviewed as a Special Circumstance and an adjustment can be made to your FAFSA financial information. If you now have zero income or are earning less -income, please contact our financial aid office 304-367-5678 about the details of completing a Special Circumstance.
How do I get credit at FSU/Pierpont for my military experience and course work?
- Please go to your respective branches transcript website and apply for a transcript - Army, Navy or Marines, Air Force.
- Please provide our Enrollment Services with a copy of your transcript for evaluation.