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Veterans' Services - Frequently Asked Questions

IMPORTANT!
Download and read the "Everything you need to know" PDF file. This file has been written, rewritten and updated for over 20 years by our two VA Counselors. If you NEED to know it - it will be in this file. Don't be the one who does not get paid, or worse yet, owes money back to the VA!

Everything you need to know

· Do I have to pay tuition and fees? Yes ! Students are responsible for their own fees, which are due 10 days from the date of registration. The GI Bill is a monthly allotment. You get paid via check or direct deposit. The VA educational benefit is to help offset the cost of tuition, fees, or books.


· How do I start my GI Bill? 1. Turn in an application to Palomar College for admission to school. 2. Stop at the Veterans Services Center to pick up the package of paperwork. 3. Choose your major and fill out the paperwork. 4. Return the paperwork to the Veterans Services Office a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks prior to school starting if you are requesting Advance Pay or after you have secured your classes through the PAR registration system if not asking for advance pay. 5. Attend a Veterans Education Orientation to learn everything your need to know about veteran’s education and the GI bills


· How long does it take to get my money? The first time you file your initial application for VA educational benefits the processing by the VA can take up to 8 to 12 weeks. Once the VA processes the application and establishes a file for you subsequent processing of paperwork usually takes 30 days to 45 days. Peak periods, such as the start of the semester, educational benefit paperwork may take longer for the school and VA to process.


· How do I get my money? Once the VA processes and approves your payment you receive month payments based on your attendance in classes. The VA pays the monthly payments at the beginning of each month for the preceding month. If you are Chapter 30 or Chapter 1606 you have the option on your application for benefits of requesting automatic deposit to your bank. Otherwise you will receive your benefit payments as hard copy checks.


· Can I get all the money at once? All GI bills are paid in monthly payments unless you are receiving advance pay.


· What is Advance Pay? Palomar College does not participate in Advance Pay.


· Why do I have to declare a major? The VA requires you to declare an objective or goal. At Palomar College that could be an AA degree from our catalog; the Police Academy; or a BA or BS degree program through the CSU system or UC system. The BA or BS degree must be a major from a CSU or UC institution that has developed an articulation agreement with Palomar College. Please see the Veterans’ Services office, Transfer Center or Counseling/Career Center for four-year articulations agreements.

· What am I paid for under a major/goal at Palomar? You are paid for the General Education classes, Major Classes and Electives (if needed) for that major/goal. You are not paid for classes you have already completed with a passing grade, or those not required for your declared major.

· Can I just get a certificate instead of an AA? The only certificate program, which is a payable program at Palomar College, is the Police Academy.

· Why am I not getting paid for all my current classes? Only classes, which are major classes, general education requirements or electives as needed, are payable classes. An exception to this would be required prerequisite classes and remedial classes such as Math 15 or English 10, which are shown to be needed through assessment testing. Repeat classes (any class you have previously taken with a passing grade), or a class outside of your major requirements it is not payable.


· I have the Military College Fund. Do I get that too? Yes, the VA should add the college fund into your monthly educational benefit check.


· Can I take ROP classes? ROP classes are only payable under VA benefits if you have paid tuition for them making them a graded class and they are part of your major and/or if you have room for them as electives under your degree program.


· My Dad / Mom / husband / wife was in the military. What benefits do I get?
If the veteran is 100% permanently and totally disabled or deceased due to service connected injury or death the spouse or child may be eligible for Chapter 35 (Dependent) benefits. The spouse cannot have re-married and there is an age cut off for the children.

If you are not eligible for this program you may be eligible for a fee waiver program - the CAL VET program. The veteran must have established a percentage of disability with the VA and the child must meet an income criteria. This program waives some (but not all) of the fees for college at the Community College level; the CSU system and the UC system.


· Why do I have to fill out all this paperwork? The stack of paperwork we give you as a new student at Palomar College establishes your veteran’s file at Palomar and your VA file in Muskogee, OK. There is a reason for each piece of paperwork. Once the files are established you will need to completed one piece of paperwork each semester to keep benefits going, unless you change your major.

· How do I change my major? You pick up a package of paperwork from our office complete it and return it to us. If you are taking classes in the new major we will change your major. If you are still taking classes which fall under the major you have declared we will not change your major until such time that you begin taking the classes under the new declared major. An evaluation will be done to the new major and a copy will be sent to you.

· I only got approximately ½ the amount of money I normally get? Have you dropped classes? Are you in a short session class, which ended before the end of the rest of the semester? Could an instructor have dropped you for non-attendance of a class. These are a few reasons that could affect pay. You need to contact our office so we can pull your file and find out what happened.


· What is break pay? Break pay is pay that is received during breaks between semester and terms when you are not attending classes. The break cannot exceed 8 weeks or 56 days or exceed the length of the term or semester. If the break is 57 days or more you do not receive break pay. For example the break between Fall and Spring semesters would be a payable period if the break did not exceed 56 days. If eligible for break pay the VA pays the break at the rate of pay for the semester you have just finished, so if you were in full time attendance for Fall your break pay would be at the full time rate.

· How do I get direct deposit? You can request direct deposit when you apply for benefits by either attaching a voided check to your application or filling the information in on the application. We also have a form that you may use to ask for direct deposit. Another way is to phone the VA and give them the information at 1-877-838-2778.


· What is a NOBE? For reservists utilizing Chapter 1606 a NOBE is a Notice of Basic Eligibility. You obtain your NOBE from your unit and you hand it in with your VA package of paperwork to our office.


· Can I sign up for the GI Bill without my DD214, copy 4?
While we will certify you for benefits without a DD214 we ask that you obtain one as soon as possible. We are required by State law to retain a copy in your file in our office. Also there is always a possibility that not having a DD214 can hold the processing of your benefits by the VA.

· Can I start my GI Bill while on terminal leave? NO - You must be discharged from service to apply as a Veteran. Otherwise, your paperwork will be treated as an active duty person.

· Are TV / Internet classes payable? Yes if they are required for your major.


· Can I get tutoring? Yes, you may be eligible for VA or college tutoring. Check with our office for the particulars.


· What is the CAL Vet program? The California Veterans Dependents Educational Assistance Program offers educational assistance to children and spouses of severely disabled or deceased veterans. Dependents of POWS and MIAS, widow(ers) of deceased veterans and wives of 100% disabled veterans may also be eligible. Ask for more information in the Veteran’s Office.


· It has been six weeks, where is my money? Depending on the backlog at Muskogee that may be a reasonable amount of time for adjudication (processing). We suggest that you check with our office so we can pull your file and determine whether or not we need to do an inquiry.

· I dropped a class , what do I do? Phone our office or stop in to let us know. We will pull a print out off the computer and adjust your units. If you are Chapter 30 you also need to let the VA know when you do your self-certification form for the month.

· What is a self-cert? How do I get it? When does it need to be submitted? If you are receiving Chapter 30 (MGIB) benefits you will receive a Self Certification form in the mail with a blue envelope. If you have made any changes in your course load (dropped or added classes) you need to fill out the self-cert and return it to Muskogee, OK in order for the VA to release your next check. If you have not made any changes you can phone 1-877-823-2378 to do your self-certification. The VA will not cut you a check until you self-certify.

If you move (change residences) you need to notify our office, the Veteran’s Administration at 1-888-442-4551 and also the Admission Office at Palomar College.

· Do I have to pay taxes on my GI Bill? NO - All GI Bill benefits are TAX FREE

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