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The Post-9/11 GI Bill®
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (the “GI Bill®”) expands the educational benefits available to many veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001. This new legislation, effective August 1, 2009, provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.
Are you Eligible?
To find out if you are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, please visit the Veterans On- Line Application (VONAPP) for a Certificate of Eligibility.
Students eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits will receive a percentage of the following benefits based on length of service:
- Tuition and fees, payable directly to the school, up to the highest in-state undergraduate tuition and fees up to annual maximum tuition contribution of $21,084.89
- A monthly housing allowance, payable to the student, based on the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents at the location of the school
- A yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1000 paid proportionately based on enrollment.
Why do I sometimes receive monthly housing allowance checks in different amounts?
Your monthly housing allowance is paid directly to you at the beginning of each month for the previous month. Possible explanations for varying check amounts include:
- A break pay check (in many cases, you will receive a partial allowance for breaks between terms) Effective August 1, 2011: Break pay is eliminated except for periods where a school is closed due to an Executive Order of the President or due to an emergency situation. These payments are limited to 4 weeks in any 12 month period.
- A partial payment month (at the start and end of the term)
- Rate change between calendar years
- Delay because of re-certification at the start of the term
Here is the formula for calculating what your monthly allowance check should be for any given month:
- 2015 monthly BAH rate for the Post-9/11 GI Bill ® at Columbia: $3,775
- Multiply this by your % of eligibility to determine your monthly rate (i.e., if you are 90% eligible for the GI Bill ®, your 2015 monthly rate is $3,397.50)
- If the month is at the beginning or end of a term, subtract the number of days that school is NOT in session from 30
- Divide your monthly rate by 30 and subtract this number from your monthly rate; this is the specific rate you should receive for that month
*Note: If your “rate of pursuit” of study is equal to or less than 50% (meaning you are a part-time student) or if you are on active duty, you are ineligible for the monthly housing allowance.
Benefits between Academic Terms
If you are enrolled at the same school and the break between terms is less than 8 weeks, you will receive break pay. Breaks are paid automatically by the VA unless the student is ineligible because of active duty status, withdrawal from all courses during the preceding term, or if the student requests no pay for a break.
Summer term break pay operates somewhat differently. If the break between spring and summer or between summer and fall does not exceed 8 weeks and the terms before and after the break are not shorter than the break, then you will receive break pay. If the break between two summer sessions is 30 days or less, you will receive break pay between sessions.
Receiving Your First Check
The most frequent question we receive is, “When is my payment going to arrive?” If you are concerned, first check with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that your certification has been processed on our end. If it has, call the VA at 888-442-4551 to confirm that they’ve received your certification. If they have not, contact us again and ask that we resubmit your certification.
If they have received your certification, unfortunately there’s not much we can do to expedite the processing and disbursement of funds on the VA end. If you have financial concerns, you should contact your school’s financial aid office for assistance. Central administration cannot address individual student financial issues.
Transfering from Other Schools
You will need to complete and submit a Request for Change of Program or Place of Training, VA Form 22-1995 to the VA. The form can be accessed electronically on the VA website. In addition, please provide your certificate of eligibility to us at email@example.com and complete the Columbia Veterans Request for Certification form.
If you have a question about a specific fee and whether it will be covered, please contact your school's financial aid office.
Graduate student working on my thesis, am considered full-time but am not taking any formal courses. Can I still receive benefits?
According to the VA, “in-residence training for graduate students consists of regularly scheduled, conventional classroom or laboratory sessions; or consists of research (either on campus or in absentia) necessary for the preparation of the student’s master’s thesis, doctoral dissertation, or similar prerequisite treatise; or consists of a combination of scheduled classroom or research.” As long as your school or program considers you to meet these qualifications on a “greater than half-time” basis, then you are eligible to receive BAH.
Do I need to be enrolled in a degree-granting program to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits at Columbia?
GI Bill recipients need to be enrolled in a degree-granting program or an “approved” non-degree program. (A list of approved programs can be found here). Nonmatriculated students (including those in the American Language Program) may be certified for GI Bill ® benefits only if they are pending admission to one of Columbia’s degree-granting programs. If they are pending admission, they may be certified for up to two terms as a nonmatriculated student.
How will I know that Columbia has certified my enrollment?
We begin certifying enrollment one week before the start of the academic term. Once we receive your Veterans Request for Certification form, we will certify your enrollment within a few days. You will not receive an email confirmation that we have received your form or that we have certified your enrollment. The VA will send an email confirmation that your enrollment has been certified and detail which day and how many credits.
Is tutoring covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®?
Yes, you can receive funds for individual tutoring if you are enrolled on a half-time or more basis and if you have a deficiency in a course that is part of your approved program. You must be enrolled in a course during the same term in which the tutoring is received.
The VA will pay up to $100/month, with a maximum amount payable of $1,200. You, your tutor, and Columbia’s VA Certifying Official must complete an Application and Enrollment Certification for Individualized Tutorial Assistance (VA Form 22-1990t). This form must be completed within a year of the eligible tutoring. To begin the process of applying for reimbursement for tutoring, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a visiting student at Columbia. Can I use my Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits while I study here?
Your coursework at Columbia may be certified for Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits if you are pursuing a degree at another college or university and are taking courses at Columbia that apply to your degree program. In this case, Columbia would be considered your “secondary school” and your degree-granting institution your “primary school,” in VA terms.
If you meet these qualifications and you would like to use your benefits for visiting coursework at Columbia, please ask your primary school's VA certifying official for a letter stating that the coursework you will take at Columbia applies to your degree program. Provide this letter to us at email@example.com and follow the steps to request certification outlined here.[EH4]
Can I transfer my Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits to my spouse or child?
The Department of Defense allows individuals to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits to a family member if they are a member of the Armed Forces on or after August 1, 2009, have served at least years in the Armed Forces, and agree to serve at least another four years in the Armed Forces. Up to 36 months of benefits may be transferred to family members in numerous combinations to multiple dependents. To learn more about transferability of benefits, visit the GI Bill ® website.
When can I expect GI Bill ® benefits to show up on my account? Also, will I be charged late fees due to an outstanding balance prior to my VA payment?
Typically students will receive their direct deposit book stipend the first week of class. The monthly BAH housing stipend pays at the beginning of the next month. For example, BAH for August will pay September 1st. VA payment for tuition and fees is typically paid 6 to 8 weeks after you have been certified with the VA. GI Bill recipients who have provided documentation of pending VA benefits will be coded so that they do not receive late fees or any other penalties. If you do have a late fee, please contact our office and request that it be lifted.
Recently, I completed a degree program at Columbia. As an active duty service member with access to the new GI Bill ®, am I eligible for loan reimbursement and/or reduction in total tuition costs?
The Post-9/11 GI Bill ® is not retroactive. It can only be applied towards courses taken on or after August 1, 2009. There may be other loan repayment options available from the VA that you should explore. For more information please visit: www.gibill.va.gov.
What are the requirements to receive the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)?
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is available to students who are enrolled at least 51% of fulltime enrollment on campus. This means that you must take a course load that is considered more than 50% of the full-time course load for your program. Additionally, you must take at least one "in residence" course that you attend on-campus. For example, if you are a student in the Columbia Video Network, a distance learning program run by the School of Engineering & Applied Science, you are ineligible for BAH unless you take at least one course on-campus and are registered for courses over half-time status.
I'd like to pay what I owe Columbia in tuition but I have not received any explanation detailing how much I am awarded. How can I take care of this?
If you would like to pay the balance on your bill now, you can estimate your VA benefits and then pay the remainder on your balance. If you overpay, you will receive a refund on your student account for the amount of your overpayment.
As a quick tip, you can calculate the tuition payment you will receive by calculating [your estimated or known eligibility level] x $1,010 = $_____ credit and [your estimated or known eligibility level] x $12,695 = $_____ toward your fees.
For further instructions on how to do this, please see the FAQ, "How can I find out what the difference will be between my Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits and the balance on my student account?"
How can I find out what the difference will be between my Post-9/11 GI Bill ® benefits and the balance on my student account?
If you are a student in the School of General Studies, please visit the GS website for a detailed breakdown of these benefits.
If you are a student in any other school, you can complete the following calculations to estimate your benefit:
To calculate tuition:
- Determine the tuition your school assesses for the current term by visiting the Student Financial Services website. Note what your tuition will be based on the number of credits you will be taking. (If your tuition is a flat rate, divide it by the number of credits you will be taking.)
- Calculate your anticipated tuition benefit from the VA: XX% of benefits payable x $1,010 credit.
- Subtract your VA benefit from your total tuition responsibility.
- Example: For a Business School student taking 14 credits, tuition is $24,864. If this Business School student is 60% eligible for the benefits payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®, he will receive $606/credit. This means that he will receive $8,484 towards tuition, leaving a remaining balance of $16,380 for tuition.
To calculate fees:
- Identify all the fees that are assessed to all students in your school/program. Visit the Student Financial Services website and consult the fees listed under "tuition and fees" as well as the fees listed under “other fees.” Note that some fees are assessed during your first term only (for example, the transcript fee); these will be covered if it is your first term.
- Calculate your anticipated fees benefit from the VA: XX% of benefits payable x $12,697 (maximum amount of fees payable).
- Subtract your VA benefit from your total fees responsibility. If your VA benefit is larger than your total fees responsibility, all of your mandatory fees will be covered.
You may also find this benefits calculator helpful in estimating the benefits you will receive from the VA.
My certificate of eligibility has an error on it. It does not indicate the appropriate percentage of benefits for which I am eligible. I am awaiting a revised certificate, but how do I inform Columbia of this error?
If you have already provided your certificate of eligibility to Columbia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us that you are waiting for a revised certificate.
If you anticipate that the revision will make you 100% eligible for the benefits payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®and you hope to benefit from the Yellow Ribbon Program, please indicate this in your email.
I still have not received my certificate of eligibility. What happens if I don't submit my certificate to Columbia by the time the bill is due?
If you have not yet received your certificate of eligibility, please submit a Veterans Request for Certification form. When you submit it, let us know that you are still awaiting your VA certificate of eligibility.
You will not be assessed a late fee on your student account if your account is pending payment from the VA. If you have specific questions about this, please email email@example.com.
What fees are covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Only those fees that are considered mandatory and/or charged to all students in your school or program are eligible to be covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®. This includes charges like the University facilities fee, Student Life/Activity fees charged to all students in your school, the Health Services Program fee, the one-time transcript/orientation fees, and the basic level of the Columbia Health Insurance plan. It also includes course fees, such as language fees, and any other fee that is required for your course of study.
The comprehensive Columbia Health Insurance plan, dining plans, library late fees, additional printing fees, and other such expenses are not eligible to be covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
If you have a question about a specific fee and whether it will be covered, please contact your school's financial aid office.