FAQs

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a veteran enrolled at more than one-half time can qualify for a monthly housing allowance based on DoD's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate for an E-5 with dependents.

VA determines eligibility for housing allowance by calculating the rate of pursuit. Rate is expressed as percentage calculated by dividing the number of credits in which the student is enrolled by the number of credits considered to be full time. A student with a rate of pursuit greater than 50 percent can qualify for the housing allowance.

Undergraduate

For undergraduate enrollments, 12 semester or quarter hours are generally required for full-time training. The college submits the term dates and credit hours of the enrollment to VA and UTC calculates the rate of pursuit.

For example, if 12 credits is considered full-time, a course load of six credits yields a rate of pursuit of 50 percent (6 ÷ 12 = .50), whereas a course load of seven credits yields a rate of pursuit of 58 percent (7 ÷ 12 = .58). In this scenario, a veteran would need to enroll for at least seven credits (such as two three-credit classes and a one-credit lab) in order to receive the housing allowance benefits.

Some universities offer classes in terms that are shorter than a standard-length semester or quarter. This is especially true for online classes and summer enrollments, but some institutions offer accelerated terms at brick-and-mortar campuses year round. In these cases, VA calculates weighted "equivalent credit hours" so that fewer credits are required for full-time (and more than half-time) training.

Graduate

Because graduate-level programs vary in the amount of credits required for full-time training, the college provides the training time information to VA in addition to the term dates and credit hours of the enrollment.

Monthly Housing Allowance Payments

Once the training time is determined, the monthly housing allowance is paid at the nearest 10 percent level. For instance if your training time is determined to be 58 percent,  you will be paid 60 percent of the applicable housing allowance. If your training time is calculated to be 84 percent, you will be paid 80 percent of the applicable housing allowance.

If you fail a class, you receive what is called a "punitive grade" for that class. A punitive grade doesn’t count as earned credit but is used in determining a student’s progress toward graduation requirements. This means that the grade you receive counts in your overall degree progress, albeit negatively. Since this grade counts toward your graduation progress, you are not required to repay GI Bill money received for that class.

You may take the class again in an attempt to receive credit toward graduation or raise your grade for it and you may receive GI Bill payment for retaking the class.

The effective MHA rate for those enrolled solely in distance learning is half the national average MHA. For the current MHA rates click here.

If a student drops a course or withdraws from school after the drop period and receives a non-punitive grade, VA will reduce benefits effective the first day of the term unless mitigating circumstances are found. Mitigating circumstances are circumstances beyond the student's control that prevent the student from continuing his or her education or that cause the student to reduce course load.

Examples:

  • An illness or injury afflicting the student during the enrollment period.
  • An illness or death in the student’s immediate family.
  • An unavoidable change in the student’s conditions of employment.
  • An unavoidable geographical transfer resulting from the student’s employment.
  • Immediate family or financial obligations beyond the student's control that require him or her to suspend pursuit of the program of education to obtain employment.
  • Discontinuance of the course by the university.
  • Unanticipated active military service, including active duty for training.
  • Unanticipated difficulties with childcare arrangements the student has made for the period during which he or she is attending classes.

When a student terminates or reduces course load after the drop period and a non-punitive grade is assigned, mitigating circumstances are an issue. If mitigating circumstances are needed and adequate evidence of mitigating circumstances is not received with the Notice of Change in Student Status; VA will not pay for the course or courses in question.

If the student has already been paid for the course or courses, VA will create an overpayment (subject to the 6 credit-hour exclusion) from the beginning of the term, quarter or semester. If you know what the student’s mitigating circumstance is, concisely describe the circumstance in remarks.

For example, you might enter: “Student withdrew 5/6/11 following father’s death on 4/30/11.” Submitting the reason for the reduction or withdrawal at the time the change is reported will help the student avoid or reduce an overpayment if the change is for an acceptable reason.

What is the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship and who is eligible?

Also known as the Fry Scholarship, this scholarship pays a benefit equal to the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Click here for rates). Beneficiaries may receive up to their full tuition and fees for a public college or a statutory annual maximum amount for a private college, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance under this program.

The benefit is available to children and surviving spouses of service members who die in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001.

Eligibility rules

Eligible persons:

  • Are entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level.
  • Have 15 years to use the benefit if the veteran's death was before Jan. 1, 2013, if their death was on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the time limit is removed.
  • Are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Children:

  • Are eligible from their 18th birthday or the date they begin attending an authorized program.
  • May use the benefit until their 33rd birthday.

Surviving Spouses:

  • Benefit will terminate upon remarriage.

Rules for eligible persons serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces:

  • If the beneficiary is eligible under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve and/or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)*, then he or she must relinquish eligibility under one of those programs to receive benefits.
  • Character of discharge from their own service does not impact eligibility resulting from the line of duty death of a parent.
  • Active-duty service members receive benefits at the active-duty benefit rate (eligible for unlimited tuition and fees but not eligible for monthly housing allowance).
  • A member who meets the service requirements to transfer entitlement under Post-9/11 GI Bill may be eligible to transfer up to 36 months of entitlement to his or her dependents.

How do I apply for this benefit?

Click here for an online application form  Complete the VA Form 22-5490 "Dependent Application for VA Education Benefits."

*Consider switching to the Post-9/11 GI Bill if you are currently using REAP. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 ended REAP on Nov. 25, 2015. See our REAP website for more details on your current eligibility and how to make an irrevocable election to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill instead.