- Are the institutions required to comply?
- Does the institution have the authority to comply?
- What are the requirements for the underlying qualifying veteran?
- What documents are required to verify the veteran’s status?
- Which students are covered?
- What is meant by “living in the state” or “physical presence”?
- What is meant by “State of residence”??
- Must the veteran also live in Virginia?
- What documents are required in order to verify the non-veteran’s eligibility?
- What programs of study are affected?
- Is in-state tuition entitled to the student as long as they are “entitled to assistance,” regardless of whether they are actually utilizing the benefit?
- What happens if the benefit expires before the student completes their degree?
- What happens if there is a break in enrollment?
- What happens if the student is receiving a partial benefit, such as expiration of the benefit prior to completion of the term or a split benefit with other beneficiaries?
- Is the institution now barred from conducting a domicile review?
- Should the covered individual be reported in-state or out-of-state?
- Should the institution charge the capital fee?
- May the institutions require that the covered individual meet any other eligibility criteria?
- What happens if a student’s status of “covered individual” is corrected by the VA after the term has begun and after the student has been charged in-state tuition?
There is no state or federal requirement that the institutions comply, rather the federal statute describes the conditions that must be met for an institution to participate in federal chapter 30 or 33 veteran’s education benefits for an approved educational program.
There is no Virginia state law prohibiting an institution from complying with this federal mandate.
A qualifying veteran must:
- Be a former member of:
- the regular components of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard or performed certain full-time service in, or was called up from, the reserve components or the National Guard or
- the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Have had active service for at least 90 days and have separated from service within 3 years of initial enrollment.
- Be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill.
The conditions placed upon the veteran can be verified using the individual’s DD-214 discharge document. This form indicates the following:
- Net Active Service – must be at least 90 days of serviceSeparation Date – must be within 3 years of the first day of the term.
- Character of Service – cannot be “Dishonorable.” A veteran can have a period of service that is dishonorable and another period of service that is honorable; this veteran is eligible for federal education benefits. Furthermore, there are exceptions that a veteran may fall under and qualify for federal education benefits and have been issued a discharge that was neither dishonorable nor honorable. For purposes of this provision, the institution needs only verify that the veteran or student is receiving federal education benefits described above.
A student is entitled to pay tuition and fees at an institution of higher learning at the rates provided for state residents if:
- The student is living in this State, even though not a legal resident; and
- The student is utilizing educational assistance under chapter 30 or chapter 33 of title 38, United States Code; and
- The person from whom the entitlement to educational assistance arose has served at least 90 days active duty in the Uniformed Services of the United States (the person from whom the entitlement arose may or may not be the student utilizing the educational assistance); and
- The person from whom the entitlement to educational assistance arose is not currently on active duty in the Uniformed Services of the United States; and
- a. Either, the student is enrolled in the course within three years of discharge of the person from whom the entitlement to the education assistance arose;
b. If enrollment in the course occurs more than three years after discharge, the student is enrolling at the same institution of higher learning that he or she has been enrolled continuously (other than during regularly scheduled breaks between courses, semesters, or terms) since before the expiration of the three year period following discharge.
- Children or Surviving Spouses qualified for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship who enrolls within 3 years of an active duty Service member’s death in the line of duty after serving 90 days or more are also eligible.
“Living in the state” and “physical presence” as used in the federal statute, are considered to mean the student is not commuting from another state during periods of enrollment and not enrolled into a distance learning program while physically residing in another state. “Living in the state” could be satisfied via off-campus housing within Virginia, on-campus housing, temporary housing, rental or ownership housing, and even documented confirmation of a non-contract residence with another individual. The student must demonstrate to the institution’s satisfaction that he or she is maintaining housing within the Commonwealth during the terms of enrollment. The student is not disqualified for leaving the state during weekends, breaks, or other periods of time when courses are not in session.
A “State of residence” is deemed to be consistent with Virginia’s definition of domicile or a person’s home state. A person can have a “State of residence” in one state while residing temporarily in another state. Per the federal statute, the student cannot be rejected for in-state tuition solely due to their “state of residence” or “domicile” being in another state.
Only the student is required to live in Virginia during the terms of enrollment. Unless the veteran is the student, the veteran’s physical presence is immaterial to the eligibility review.
The institution must verify that the source veteran meets the criteria under the federal statute, that the student is utilizing the veteran’s federal education benefits (as verified by the appropriate institution office), and that the student is physically residing within the Commonwealth (verified to the institution’s satisfaction).
Compliance is only necessary for those academic programs that have been approved for use of federal veteran’s education benefits.
No, the federal statute describes a “covered individual” as someone who is “entitled to assistance” but states that the in-state tuition benefit is required for those“…pursuing a course of education with educational assistance…” To fall under the federal statute, the student must be actually utilizing the benefit, not merely be eligible for the benefit.
If the student is eligible as of their initial enrollment, the student is deemed to maintain eligibility even as their enrollment extends beyond the three-year anniversary of the veteran’s separation from active service as long as the student remains continuously enrolled (at least one course each term: fall / spring / fall / spring, et cetera) and the student continues to use and receive federal veteran’s education benefits. Once a student’s eligibility for federal veteran’s education benefits expires, the student is no longer addressed under the federal statute.
If the student breaks enrollment and then attempts to reenroll after the three-year timeframe, the student is no longer covered by the Veteran’s Choice Act.
The statute stipulates the benefit is for “a covered individual pursuing a course of education with educational assistance.” As long as the student is utilizing any portion of the educational assistance upon their enrollment, the student is covered by the federal provision.
Not necessarily. The institution should conduct a domicile review in order to determine whether the student is eligible to be considered for other state benefits, such as state financial aid. Additionally, students determined to meet in-state tuition requirements pursuant to state domicile law or established exception provisions will have reduced risk of losing in-state tuition due to expiration of the federal education benefits. Finally, institutions may opt to verify Virginia domicile in order to accurately report their enrollment characteristics. The federal statute does not prohibit a domicile review; it prohibits charging out-of-state tuition to certain students based on failure to meet state domicile law.
If the student receives in-state rates under this provision but is otherwise legally domiciled in another state, then the student is “out-of-state” for reporting purposes.
The federal statute requires that the eligible student be charged in-state tuition but does not address other charges. Since the students are considered as “out-of-state” for reporting purposes, they would be subject to financial policies associated with out-of-state students, such as charging the capital fee.
Section (c)(4) permits the institutions to require that a covered individual “demonstrate a (future) intent to establish residency” or implement other requirements “not relating to establishment of residency.” SCHEV discourages the addition of any other criteria.
Such students are not covered by federal statute and would be subject to out-of-state tuition charges unless they meet another in-state provision.