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VA EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS GENERAL INFORMATION (VA HANDBOOK)

 

 

Our Responsibility to You

We will provide all documents and information necessary for you to receive your VA educational benefits. We will process all requests or benefits in a timely and proficient manner. We can certify enrollment to the VA for a maximum of one semester at a time. We recommend that you stop by the VA Office or complete an online application here and complete it as soon as you register.

Transfer students: In most cases, we are initially allowed to certify your benefits for three terms only. Once your transfer credit is awarded, we will analyze your record to see how your prior coursework applies to your CSULB degree objective; then we may certify your enrollment for additional terms upon your request.

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Your Responsibility to Us

Keep us informed! It is your responsibility to request certification for subsequent periods. You must request benefits by completing VA Office in-house forms for each term in which you want to receive benefits. All students that receive VA educational benefits must provide documentation that reflects the requirement for all course work that will decrease the number of units needed to complete the degree.

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Degree Requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are meeting the requirements for your degree objective. VA benefits are authorized only for courses which apply as degree requirements, including electives, for one current degree objective you have reported to the VA. The VA will only pay for classes that are required in your degree objective program plan. Academic Advising Center is available to provide help with General Education and major advising

Double majors: Double majors have been approved for VA educational benefits at CSULB. You need to notify the VA Office if you are declared as a double major. Double majors require special attention and advice on an individual basis.

Undeclared majors: If you report your degree objective to the VA as "undeclared" we may certify only those courses which meet specific breadth requirements for up to one academic year. You must declare a degree objective after your sophomore year.

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Monthly Checks

Generally, it takes the VA Office approximately six to eight weeks from the date we certify your enrollment to generate your first check; this period may be longer, depending on VA workload. If you have not received some word from the VA within six weeks from the date of certification, call our VA Office to confirm your certification. If you prefer, you may call the Department of Veterans Affairs education services yourself :toll-free at 1-888-GI-BILL-1; be sure to have your file number handy.

The VA Department generally pays you on or after the first of each month following the month for which payment is due. This system is called "post-payment." Occasionally, educational benefits checks do run a few days later than usual; when this happens you may call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-888-GI-BILL-1 to see when the check was, or will be mailed.

Chapter 30 only: Currently, CH 30 recipients must verify attendance on a monthly basis. Attendance verification forms are sent to the your mailing address on file. If the form is not received by the LAST day of the month, you may call your verification telephonically or verify via the internet. You may call: 1-877-823-2378 and follow the instructions provided OR you may go to the the WAVE Program then follow instructions provided.

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Address Changes

Keep the CSULB VA Office notified of any changes in your name, address or telephone numbers. Changing your address with the CSULB Enrollment Services does not change your address with the CSULB VA Office. Whenever you change your address, make sure you notify the VA Office and leave a forwarding address with your local Post Office. If you do not leave a forwarding address, you may not receive your next check; according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, it may take three months to clear up the problem and for a retroactive check to be issued to you.

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Semester Course Enrollment

We use CSULB's on-line degree audit system to monitor the coursework of all students whom we certify for VA educational benefits. It is helpful to us-and beneficial to you-if you complete the Verification of Enrollment Form and turn it in to CSULB's VA Office after you register for classes, so we can certify that benefits are payable for each of your classes. This ensures that your benefits will continue to arrive in a timely manner. Remember that you may receive benefits only for courses which apply toward your degree as breadth requirements, major requirements or necessary electives for one current degree objective or approved double-major you have reported to the VA Office.

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I, F, N/C and U Grades & Mitigating Circumstances

If you make a grade of "I" in a class, you have one calendar year immediately following the end of the term during which it was assigned to make it up. A "Requirements for Assigning and Incomplete Grade" form must be completed and filed with the department office and the Office of Enrollment Services at the time final grades are submitted whether or not you remain enrolled. When the work has been completed and evaluated, a final grade will be assigned by an instructor.

The VA has its own policy on incomplete grades whereby the student is allowed one year to replace the "I" with a grade; however, it must be remembered that this is secondary to the University regulation relating to incompletes. The CSULB VA Office is required to report "I" grades to the Department of Veteran Affairs when a grade of "I" is assigned. If the "I" grade has not been replaced after one year, the VA may retroactively terminate the benefits you received for that course, unless you submit evidence of acceptable mitigating circumstances.

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No Credit ("NC") grades

As neither units nor grade points are assigned for an "NC" grade, the VA must be notified if you receive an "NC", including "incomplete" grades that revert to "NC". Unless you completed 12 additional units of required coursework that semester or can demonstrate acceptable mitigating circumstances, you will need to repay the benefits you received for that class.

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"F" grades

Your VA benefits will not be affected if you receive an "F" grade, unless you received the "F" due to non-attendance or are placed on academic probation. You must notify the VA Office if you stop attending a class, even if you do not officially withdraw.

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Mitigating Circumstances

"Mitigating circumstances" is a term used quite often in relation to VA educational benefits. The VA considers mitigating circumstances to be those situations that are beyond your control, are serious enough to warrant changing your class schedule, and were unforeseen at the beginning of the semester. Mitigating circumstances can be provided on VA Form 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim Form or you can send a letter explaining your mitigating circumstances directly to the VA Office. If you use personal correspondence then be sure to include your full name (printed), Social Security Number, VA File Number, the Date, a Daytime telephone number with the area code, and your signature. If you have any supporting evidence includes a copy with your letter. (Always keep a copy of what you submit!)

Obtain the VA Form 21-4138

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Repeated Courses

BEFORE you repeat any class for which the University has granted you credit, you should check with the VA Office to see how this will affect your benefits. The VA Office will not consider toward full-time status those units which repeat courses in which a grade of "D" or better has been received, unless the University specifically requires a higher grade in that particular course according to standards published in the CSULB General Catalog. VA regulations will allow you to receive benefits for repeating a course in which you previously received a grade of "F" or "NC", if the course applies to your degree requirements. The Department of Veteran Affairs will not pay to repeat any courses that were completed successfully. Your transcript will flag any coursework which duplicates credit accepted in transfer or repeats previously completed CSULB classes: we are required to notify the Department of Veterans Affairs when this occurs.

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Dropping a Course

Notify the VA Office whenever you are thinking about making a change in your course-load, and we will review the repercussions with you. If you drop a class which reduces your percentage of full-time, our office is obligated to notify the Department of Veterans Affairs within 30 days of the date of the drop; if you report the change to us when you make it, you can save money in VA administrative charges and reduce the chances that future benefit payments will be delayed.

If there are mitigating circumstances surrounding the reduction, and the VA Office accepts them, your benefits could continue at the prior rate through the date you make the reduction. If there are no mitigating circumstances, or if the VA Office does not approve them, your benefit rate will be reduced retroactively to the first day of the semester. Mitigating circumstances will be considered to exist without explanation by the student in the first instance of withdrawal from a course or courses totaling not more than four quarter units.

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Withdrawing from School

If you withdraw during the semester, the VA Office will cancel your benefits retroactively to the end of the preceding semester. An exception to this rule can be made if you have acceptable mitigating circumstances; in this case, your benefits will be terminated as of the last day of attendance.

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Academic Probation

Undergraduate students are placed on academic probation when their semester or cumulative grade-point average, computed on the total of all courses taken at CSULB, is less than 2.0 ("C" average). Graduate students are required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 ("B" average). The CSULB VA coordinator is required to notify the Department of Veterans Affairs if a student is on probation or subject to dismissal for two consecutive semesters. Students who are allowed by the University to continue their attendance, and who remain in the same program, may be re-certified for benefits immediately. Those who change programs may file a request for resumption of benefits with the CSULB VA office.

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Tutorial Assistance

Tutorial assistance is available for veterans training under Chapters, 30, 31, 35 and 1606 enrolled in a post secondary educational program on at least a half-time basis who have a deficiency in a subject that is indispensable to the satisfactory pursuit of the approved program. Assistance is a supplement to the veteran's monthly education assistance check and is paid without any entitlement charge for those under Chapter 35. Veterans under Chapters 30 and 1606 will have their entitlements charged for tutorial assistance paid in excess of $600. The maximum assistance to which a claimant will be eligible is $1,200. You can be reimbursed up to $100 per month. To receive VA tutorial assistance, you must also meet the following requirements: 

  • The course must be taken to meet the degree requirements of the one current degree objective you have reported to the VA Office.
  • The instructor must indicate to the VA Office on department letterhead or form provided by the campus VA coordinator that a deficiency exists and that tutoring is needed for you to complete the course.
  • You must complete VA Form 22-1990T.

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VA Work-Study

Students who are receiving VA education benefits are eligible to participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs work-study program. Depending on availability of positions, work-study may be available if you are receiving VA education benefits, and are attending school at least three-quarter time (9 semester hours) or greater. Students may work at Department of Veteran Affairs approved sites up to 425 hours during a semester. Payment is at the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is greater. Work study payments are a benefit and therefore are not taxable. To apply:

  • You must complete VA Form 22-8691.
  • VA Long Beach Healthcare Center, call (562) 826-5642 for more information.

Once you have arranged for a work-study position, you will need a copy of your current VA certification; please call the CSULB VA Office a day ahead, so we may prepare one for you.

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Overpayments and Interest

The Department of Veteran Affairs charges interest and a monthly administrative fee on overpayments of educational benefits; obviously, it is in your interest to contact our office before you make changes in your student status. The campus VA coordinator must report changes to the Department of Veteran Affairs within 30 days of the effective date of the change. If you have mitigating circumstances and have been in contact with our office, we can send your completed Statement in Support of Claim to the Department of Veteran Affairs with our notification of the change in your status, and an overpayment may be avoided.

As a result of the October 1998 Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, some changes in the law may affect how your veterans' benefits are coordinated with any federal financial aid you are receiving. The Higher Education Act is the law on which administration of the federal financial aid programs is based.

In general, the law requires that educational benefits offered by the Department of Veteran Affairs must be treated as a resource when the Financial Aid Office makes awards from the campus-based federal aid programs (Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant and Federal Work Study). These benefits are not used in calculation of your expected family contribution. However, information regarding veterans benefits must be collected by the University for use in packaging financial aid awards from Perkins Loan, SEOG and Federal Work Study programs.

If you have further questions regarding your veterans' benefits and financial aid eligibility, feel free to call the Financial Aid Office at (562) 985-8403 and ask to speak with your Financial Aid Counselor.

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Prolonged Illness or Serious Injury

  • Severe illness or death in your immediate family
  • Unscheduled changes in your employment which are beyond your control

Unanticipated difficulties with child care arrangements made for the purpose of allowing you to go to school

Examples of unacceptable mitigating circumstances include withdrawal to avoid a failing grade, dislike of instructor, and too many courses attempted.

You will normally be required to submit evidence to support your statement that the event was not anticipated and was beyond your control. For example, if you state you had to withdraw from school due to an unscheduled change I your employment, you may be required to furnish a letter from your employer.

If you fail to provide a statement or supporting evidence, or the reasons you give are not accepted as mitigating circumstances, the Department of Veteran Affairs will reduce or terminate your benefits from the start of the term. You will be given the opportunity to provide a statement explaining a change in your enrollment before a final decision is made. For withdrawals ("W" grades) mitigating circumstances will be considered to exist without explanation by the student in the first instance of withdrawal from a course or courses totaling not more than four semester units

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Information and Assistance

  • US Department of Veterans Affairs: For general information about educational benefits, contact: http://gibill.va.gov
  • Los Angeles County Veterans Services Office - 1816 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, (213) 744-4827; fax (213) 748-5473
  • California Department of Veterans Affairs - 1227 O Street in Sacramento, (800) 952-5626
  • VA Long Beach Health Care System - 5901 E. 7th Street in Long Beach, (888)769-8387
  • Employment Development Department - 4300 Long Beach Blvd, Suite 600 in Long Beach (800)480-3287
  • CSULB's VA Office: Brotman Hall, Room 250 in the Career Development Center. Phone (562) 985-5115, fax (562) 985-1641

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