VA Benefits FAQ
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Answers to common questions about VA benefits at Penn.
You may also benefit from reviewing the NASFAA Tip Sheet for Servicemembers and Veterans.
Your paper Certificate of Eligibility (COE) provides important information for both you and Penn’s SCO (School Certifying Official). COEs provide a student’s eligibility percentage as well as a chart of the veteran or servicemember’s status and dates of service. Since active duty servicemembers and their spouses are not currently eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, the COE helps us to determine a student’s benefits eligibility. COEs also indicate important changes in entitlement and help students keep track of how many months of entitlement they have remaining. When you are first admitted to Penn, we require a COE that is dated within the last calendar year and accurately reflects any active duty or separation status. After submitting the initial COE, we will need a new COE every two years or whenever a change of entitlement occurs.
To request a new or updated COE, you may call the GI Bill Hotline at 1-888-442-4551. Please ensure that your current address is on file with the VA. You can also contact the VA through Ask VA (AVA). COEs are typically received within 30 days.
Yes, we are happy to report that the University of Pennsylvania continues to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Please contact the University’s School Certifying Official at firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding Yellow Ribbon availability.
You will not be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program until you are discharged. In addition to the Certificate of Eligibility (COE), you will need to submit a DD 214 to the Registrar’s Office. At that time, you will be placed in the program if there are spots remaining in your school of choice. Your Yellow Ribbon status will not take effect until the following semester.
Each of Penn’s 12 graduate and professional schools and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (non-traditional undergraduates) annually determine participation.
Once you submit the COE and indicate you are enrolled for the semester, the SCO will certify your enrollment with the VA. This triggers payment for tuition and fees, basic allowance for housing (BAH) payments, and a book stipend.
The BAH and book stipend will be disbursed to your personal bank account once your enrollment is certified for the semester. For Chapter 33 recipients, the full book stipend is disbursed with your first monthly BAH payment.
Your VR&E Counselor will submit an authorization for your books and supplies to the Penn Barnes & Noble Bookstore on campus. When you go to purchase your books and supplies, please 1) identify yourself as a Chapter 31 recipient and 2) provide the authorization number for your books and supplies to the cashier before you check out. If you do not know what the authorization number for your books and supplies is, please contact your VR&E Counselor. Please also be sure to hang onto your receipt from the bookstore to provide to your VR&E Counselor.
If your tuition and fees exceed your eligibility, the full amount of your VA education benefit will pay in one semester. You will not have any eligibility for tuition and fee benefits again until after August 1, when a new VA aid year begins.
If your tuition and fees are less than your eligibility, we will apply as much of your benefit as possible up to the total of your tuition and fees, minus any other institutional or outside funding. Any remaining eligibility will be applied in subsequent semesters until the benefits are exhausted. After they are exhausted, your benefits will not begin again until after August 1.
Once Post-9/11 GI Bill® Chapter 33 benefits have been applied, we will apply Yellow Ribbon awards to eligible students up to the cost of their tuition and fees. Any remaining eligibility will be applied in subsequent semesters until the benefit is exhausted.
Even though you won’t receive the tuition and fee benefits, you are still eligible for the BAH and book stipend. Once you register and if you wish to be submitted for benefits, please contact the SCO and your enrollment will be certified to trigger these benefits.
The VA’s definition of an academic year is August 1 through July 31. Once you exhaust your tuition and fee benefits during that time frame, you won’t be eligible again until the following fall semester.
You can check your status on the ebenefits website.
The benefits will reduce your financial aid package dollar for dollar. First it will reduce your self-help component of your package. This includes expected summer savings from summer earnings and work study. University grant will be reduced after all self-help has been eliminated. The benefits will not replace your parent contribution.
"GI Bill®” is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.