Where Do I Begin?
Whether this is your first time applying for veterans benefits, or you are transferring from another school, the process can seem quite daunting. The important thing to remember is to make sure you read and understand all the requirements, limitations and time frames, and submit all paperwork in a timely manner.
If you'll be attending Collin College, you will need to apply for Admissions. At the same time, request OFFICIAL transcripts from ALL previously attended colleges, universities, trade schools, tech schools, etc. These are REQUIRED before the degree evaluation can be done and will hold up the entire process even if we are waiting on just one.
Note: Collin College considers the Department of Defense Form 214 (DD214 - Member 4 copy) to be the only official transcript of military service. Therefore, Collin requires a photocopied DD214 be evaluated for college credit in order to receive benefits.
All official transcripts must be submitted to the Admissions office, not the Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs office, with the exception of the DD214. Both the Admissions office and Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs office will need a copy.
STUDENTS REQUESTING VETERANS EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS AT COLLIN SHOULD ADMIT TO THE SCHOOL AND SUBMIT ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION TO ADMISSIONS AND THE FINANCIAL AID/VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICES AT LEAST SIX to EIGHT WEEKS PRIOR TO REGISTRATION TO ENSURE TIMELY PROCESSING.
After you apply for Admissions, you'll need to apply for benefits in the Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs office at any one of our campuses. Once there, you'll let them know what chapter you are eligible for, and they'll provide you with the appropriate forms to fill out and submit. Depending on your chapter, you'll likely have to submit additional paperwork such as your DD214, a Notice of Basic Eligibility (NOBE), a VA Certificate of Eligibility (VACOE), etc.
You can see the paperwork requirements for each chapter as well as obtain the necessary forms in other sections of this web site. Feel free to fax completed and signed forms to 972-881-5118 or drop them by any of the campus offices.
Note: If you would like to find out more about veterans educational benefits, please visit the VA's web site at http://www.gibill.va.gov There is a considerable amount of information there pertaining to all the various chapters and education benefits in general. We highly recommend you use the VA web site as a main source of information about your benefits.
How Long Will It Take To Process My Benefits?
Once you have admitted to the school and had all official transcripts from previous schools sent to us, the degree plan coordinators with the ARO office will evaluate your degree plan. Degree plans are evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis. This process can take anywhere from four to six weeks to complete.
Is That It?
Not exactly. Once your degree evaluation is complete, the VA Advisor will be able to prepare your file for certification with the VA provided all other requirements have been met. You must be registered for classes in order to be certified. ONLY those classes that are on your degree plan will be certified. Because each file requires additional processing after the degree evaluation is received, it is unlikely the certification will be done the same day the degree evaluation is completed. However, in most cases, it is soon afterwards.
Note: Any class that is recommended, but not required by a degree program, cannot be certified with the VA. Additionally, classes required for graduation at another institution, but not by Collin, cannot be certified. Developmental courses will only be certified if the student has assessed into the course and only if it is a "traditional" class, meaning, you physically attend the class and an instructor teaches at the front of the room. Online, pod, flex and mixed classes are ALL considered distance classes to the VA and are not allowed for developmental classes.
THE STUDENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REGISTERING FOR THE CORRECT COURSES. THE VA OFFICE WILL ONLY CERTIFY CLASSES THAT ARE REQUIRED FOR GRADUATION. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN TAKING ELECTIVE COURSES - THEY MAY NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR CERTIFICATION.
Will My Benefits Pay My Tuition And Fees?
Except for Chapter 31 (Voc. Rehab) and Chapter 33 (Post 9/11), all veteran students must pay their tuition and fees from their own resources no later than payment deadline and be prepared to meet expenses until their first check arrives (this includes any "extra" expenses associated with programs such as Art of Culinary). All eligible benefits are retroactive back to the first day of classes.
Information about Collin's Payment Deadlines can be found here.
General payment information can be found here.
The college's cashier's office does offer a Tuition Installment Payment Plan that may be helpful to some students. Information on this program can be found on the bottom of the page here.
Chapter 31 (Voc Rehab) students are required to submit or make sure the VA Form 28-1905 has been submitted to Collin's Veterans Affairs office prior to the beginning of classes. Without this form, tuition, fees, books and supplies will not be paid. Once a Chapter 31 student registers, they can come by the office to get their charge sheet.
Chapter 33 students can bring a copy of their VA Certificate of Eligibility (aka VACOE) to the cashier's office BEFORE payment deadline each semester, and will only be responsible for paying the portion of their tuition and fees NOT covered by the VA. (For example, if a veteran student is eligible for 70% of their tuition and fees, they will need to pay their 30% to the cashier BEFORE payment deadline.) A copy of the VACOE must be presented to the cashier EACH semester prior to that semester's payment deadline in order to be eligible for this program.
Collin's refund procedures can be found here.
When Do I Get The Money?
Monthly payments are made directly to the student for the number of days the student is certified for the previous month*. For most semesters, the first payment is sent after the first month of enrollment and then each month thereafter. In fall, the first payment is sent in October (even though classes begin in August, it's too close to the end of the month for the first checks to go out in September.) The payment in October will include the few days in August plus September.
For students enrolled less than half time, they will receive reimbursement for tuition and fees only (with the exception of Chapter 33.)
Chapter 33 students must be enrolled more than half time (51% or greater) to receive their monthly housing allowance.
*Please realize that being enrolled in express classes, also knows as mini-sessions, could, and most likely WILL effect how a veteran student is paid. As stated above, the VA looks at how many credits the student is enrolled in EACH DAY of the month and then determines pay based on those hours. For example: Student X is enrolled in 9 credit hours for the entire semester (say August 27th to December 16th) and has an additional (express) class for 3 credit hours that begins on October 20th and runs to the end of the semester (December 16th). The VA will pay the student 3/4 time from Aug 27 - Oct 20th, and then full time for the remainder of the semester. This differs from how financial aid enrollment is determined and so, can be confusing to students. When in doubt as to how a class will effect your pay, ask.
The above statement is especially important to VRAP students who are REQUIRED to be full time in order to receive benefits. If you are in flex classes, this will GREATLY effect how many days you will receive pay from the VA for that semester.
Chapter 30, chapter 1606, and 1607 students must verify their enrollment monthly by Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) or by Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The preferred method is WAVE, which includes features not in IVR. When chapter 30 and 1606 students are awarded benefits, the award letter they receive describes WAVE and IVR. (See the section on verifying your enrollment via WAVE for more information.)
The earliest students can verify their enrollment is the last calendar day of each month. Student must verify their enrollment each month or they will not receive their check. Students can only verify their enrollment AFTER the school has certified their enrollment.
At this time, Chapter 33 students do NOT have to verify their enrollment each month.
For specific monthly benefit amounts, see the VA web site at www.gibill.va.gov
What If I Add or Drop a Class During the Semester?
All changes made after your initial application or certification should be brought to the attention of the VA Advisor in the Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs office immediately. The most common changes include:
- Change in credit hours
- Withdrawal from school
- Change in major
- Change of address or contact information
Failure to report changes is the primary cause for delays in the delivery of your educational checks and occurrences of overpayment.
Please be aware that continual adding and dropping of classes can GREATLY effect the timeliness of certifying your file as well as timely processing by the VA once your certification is submitted. In addition, for Chapter 33 students, it can create a debt on the student whereby money is owed back to the VA and can effect your monthly payment and future benefits.
Also, Collin College changed their add/drop payment policy beginning with the 2012-2013 year which can effect all veteran students. This change basically says that any classes added to the student's schedule once classes have begun will be assessed at the full published tuition rates and any dropped courses will only be refunded according to THECB's refund rules (meaning, NOT at 100%). For Chapter 33 students, the VA will NOT pay any % not refunded to you because you dropped classes after the start of the semester. The student will be responsible for paying any and all charges of this nature.
Students wishing to change their major must submit a form 22-1995 or 22-5495 for dependents as well as a degree plan request form to the VA Advisor as soon as possible. Please realize that when you change your major your new degree plan will have to be evaluated by the degree plan coordinators using your transcripts as well as any courses you have taken at Collin thus far. This process is the same for new veteran students and those changing their majors and typically takes four to six weeks to complete. No new certification of enrollment can be completed until the degree plan evaluation is done.
What About Next Semester?
It is assumed that continuing veteran students wish to be certified for any subsequent enrollment unless they notify the Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs office in writing.
Students receiving veterans benefits must maintain satisfactory academic progress while attending Collin. Satisfactory academic progress is defined as:
- Maintaining a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Students failing to meet the GPA requirement will be reported to the Veterans Regional Office as being on academic suspension at the end of the second consecutive semester when the cumulative GPA remains below a 2.0. Developmental courses will be included to determine the cumulative GPA.
- A grade of "D" or better received at Collin or any other college is a passing grade and may not be repeated for benefits. If a non-punitive grade of 'I' is assigned to a course and is not converted to a punitive grade, this will be reported to the Veterans Regional Office within 30 days, and benefits will be reduced accordingly. Students receiving a grade of "F" may repeat the course with benefits one time at Collin.
- Withdrawal from a class, whether self-initiated or otherwise, may result in the student being obligated to repay any overpayment of benefits unless the VA approves written extenuating circumstances submitted by the student.
- Regular class attendance is required to provide the necessary documentation of attendance.
For students who have met the above conditions, certification will take place according to registration date. Meaning, the earlier you register, the sooner you will be certified.
Since the certifying officials must look at your ACTUAL classes in order to certify them (to ensure adherence to the program), the certification process cannot even begin until registration has begun. At that point, it makes the most sense to work the files in the order of registration.
In order to help students, the Veterans Affairs Office at Collin instituted the following procedure. Once class schedules are posted on the Collin web site (usually 2 weeks before registration begins), students can now submit to the Veterans Affairs Office an “Intent to Register” form with the actual classes they intend to register for. (The Intent to Register form is available on the forms page of this web site.) This new procedure will allow the certifying officials to begin certifying about a week or more before registration begins.
For students who are certified via this method; before registration begins; the ACTUAL class schedule will be checked and any adjustments to the schedule will be reported to the VA. We are NOT responsible for any changes to the amounts you receive or money owed back to the VA because of changes to your schedule from the original Intent to Register form.
For this reason, we STRONGLY RECOMMEND that students only submit the form if they are quite certain that they will be enrolled in those courses reported on the form.
Once registration begins, there is no advantage to submitting the form, since at that point and going forward, students will be certified based on registration date.
Please realize that during peak times, such as for the Fall semester; certification times will take considerably longer than during non-peak times, such as for spring or summer semesters. Be assured that files are always worked as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If the student has not been in attendance for two regular 16-week semesters, additional VA documents will be required as well as any transcripts from any schools in attendance during the break.
ALL DEGREE PLAN CHANGES MUST BE MADE THROUGH THE FINANCIAL AID/VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE. Please contact the FA/VA office on any of our campuses. Allow at least six weeks for the new degree plan request to be evaluated.
Interruption or termination of enrollment during a semester will result in an interruption of VA benefits.
A degree plan will NOT be completed until all OFFICIAL transcripts and the DD214 (where applicable) are on file.
Failure to submit official transcripts (and the DD214 where applicable) in a timely manner will result in delay of certification for benefits and/or non-certification if the student registers for courses for which previous credit may be granted.
The college makes the final decision as to the acceptability and application of transfer courses.
For specific questions, please feel free to contact us at the phone numbers or email address provided on the main Veterans Benefits page.