Missouri State University
Veteran Student Services Blog

DOD/VA Update: Federal Tuition Assistance & Chapter 1606/1607

Message from the Department of Veterans Affairs Education Services. For questions or clarification please contact the VA at 1-888-GiBill-1. You can also contact the MSU Office for Veteran Student Services for assistance locating other aid, if needed by calling 1-417-836-6199.
November 26, 2014

ADVISORY: Recent Department of Defense Changes to the Tuition Assistance Program

BACKGROUND: The Department of Defense (DoD) recently updated its instructions regarding the utilization of Tuition Assistance. In these updated instructions, DoD announced that they will no longer authorize Tuition Assistance for classes for which a member is also receiving benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve program (chapter 1606 of title 10, United States Code), Reserve Educational Assistance Program (chapter 1607 of title 10, United States Code), or any other GI Bill program other than the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty program (chapter 30 of title 38, United States Code) or the Post-9/11 GI Bill program (chapter 33 of title 38, United States Code). To implement this policy change, DoD required all schools participating in the Tuition Assistance program to sign updated memoranda of understanding stating that the schools will not certify the same class for both Tuition Assistance and chapter 1606 or 1607. As of September 4, 2014, all participating schools have signed such memoranda.

These limitations on the concurrent receipt of both Tuition Assistance and chapter 1606 or 1607 benefits have not yet been replicated in the DoD instructions regarding the administration of chapters 1606 and 1607. Therefore, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which administers the chapter 1606 and 1607 programs based on DoD’s instructions, is not technically prohibited from processing claims for 1606 or 1607 even though Tuition Assistance has already been used for the same classes. However, the practical effect of DoD’s changes to the Tuition Assistance instructions, and the newly signed memoranda, is that schools should no longer be providing VA with certifications for classes under chapter 1606 or 1607 if the member is also using Tuition Assistance to pay for all or part of the class.

ACTIONS: VA Education Liaison Representatives and State Approving Agency personnel will ensure that this information is relayed to School Certifying Officials to that they are advised of the following:

1. From this point forward, School Certifying Officials should not certify any class to VA for benefits under chapter 1606 or 1607 if the member is receiving Tuition Assistance for the class. Since this is a point forward requirement, there is no need to take any action on current or past classes.

2. If any future terms have already been certified for both Tuition Assistance and chapter 1606 or 1607, then the School Certifying Official should decertify those terms for GI Bill benefits.
a. The member should be contacted and advised of the limitation on concurrent receipt and be given the opportunity to choose which benefit he or she would prefer to use.
b. If the member chooses to continue to use Tuition Assistance, then no further action is required.
c. If the member chooses to receive chapter 1606 or 1607, then the member needs to contact DoD to discontinue his or her use of Tuition Assistance. Once decertified for Tuition Assistance, the School Certifying Official should recertify these classes for chapter 1606 or 1607 benefits.

3. In the future, if a school, through the actions of the Tuition Assistance Administrator and the School Certifying Official (whether those are two separate individuals or one person functioning in both capacities), does certify a class for both Tuition Assistance and chapter 1606 or 1607 benefits, then the school and the Servicemember may be subject to the following DoD actions:
a. Censure and possible suspension from the Tuition Assistance program for violations of the memorandum of understanding.
b. Debt collection on the Servicemember for the amount of Tuition Assistance paid.

4. VA will not establish or collect any debts for the amounts paid under 1606 or 1607 due to concurrent receipt.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The School Certifying Official Handbook will be updated to reflect these changes in the near future.


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VA and the elusive summer “full time” status

Many students have asked us…what is “full-time” during the summer term according to the VA? This is a tricky question due to multiple available sessions and VA’s evaluation of credit based on start/end dates. Missouri State typically offers 4 standard terms and several non-standard short courses/workshops during the summer. It’s important to note that the VA only pays for the days you are actually enrolled in classes.

VA has a somewhat confusing chart available which can help you determine your rate of pursuit during the summer. I’m pasting it below for your reference.

Summer Enrollment Chart

Here’s an example. Let’s say Sally Benefit Recipient is enrolled for summer classes 2013. She wants to know whether she’ll be full-time. Her class schedule looks like this:

REC 490         3 credits          06/10/2013-08/02/2013

REC 360         3 credits          06/10/2013-07/11/2013


According to Sally’s academic advisor she is considered “full-time” for the summer session because the University and the Financial Aid office look solely at term (Summer 2013) and total credits (6). The VA is a little different and they evaluate start/end dates for her courses. When we certify her enrollment to VA and report the start/end dates the VA will consider Sally “full time” only between 06/10/2013 and 07/11/2013. After her Session 2 course ends she will drop to “half-time” for VA monthly payments. Sally must be continuously enrolled in 6 credit hours to maintain her full-time pay. Her option would be to add a Session 4 course which would begin on 07/08/2013-08/03/2013 in order to maintain her full-time status.

Summer benefits can be very confusing. Our office in Carrington Hall 314 is open M-F 8am-5pm and can help you determine your rate of pursuit for VA educational benefits.

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VA Debt Letters

Since 2009 when the “New GI Bill” also known as Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) became effective the way payments are made for VA education benefits has changed. Under the new program VA sends a tuition/fee payment directly to the school and in some cases an overpayment occurs. Overpayment can occur in a variety of ways; if you drop a class, change your class schedule or if your eligibility or entitlement changes mid-semester are among the most common reasons student-veterans at MSU experience an overpayment.

In order to mitigate payment delays and common billing issues for our Post 9/11 recipients Missouri State University uses a third-party billing system which “pre-pays” your tuition and handles all VA tuition/fee payments. This system allows consistency in payments for our Post 9/11 recipients but limits our ability to send refunds directly to students using this benefit when you drop a class during the refund schedule. If the VA determines that an overpayment has been made for tuition/fees because of a dropped class you may receive a debt letter from VA requesting that you send a portion or all of your tuition payment back to VA. If you do not make arrangements to pay this debt they can and will withhold your BAH or in some cases your social security/disability compensation until the debt has been satisfied.

The easiest and most effective way to handle these tuition/fee debt letters is to provide a copy of the letter to our office.We can investigate the debt on your behalf and in many cases pay the tuition/fee debt for you before they begin deducting your personal payments. Our third-party billing system makes it difficult to get refunds to you but overpayments can be returned to VA. You should recieve two letters, one from St. Louis Regional Processing Office and a second from Debt Management Center in St. Paul, MN. When you receive both letters please bring them to Carrington Hall 314. Before our school can send any money back to VA we must have both letters (one has a tear off slip) on file.

It is important that you keep your mailing address up to date with VA and ensure that you open all letters from VA so that debts can be handled in a timely manner. If you ever have questions regarding a debt with VA you can contact our office. We’re happy to help in anyway that we can!

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