In 2019 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) announced new guidance for the acceptable uses of student veteran benefits for study abroad with an effective implementation date of August 1, 2020. See the table below for an outline of acceptable uses.

NAFSA held a Collegial Conversation on January 30, 2020, regarding these changes to veterans benefits for study abroad. NAFSA members may review the transcript from the Collegial Conversation.

Representatives from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) have agreed to present at the 2021 NAFSA Education Abroad Regulatory Summit on August 3. Register by August 2 to participate. 

Updates

NAFSA and Student Veterans of America (SVA) received a letter of response from Thomas J. Murphy, Acting Undersecretary for Benefits on June 24, 2021. NAFSA and SVA will continue to engage on this issue. 

Read the letter from Thomas J. Murphy, Acting Undersecretary for Benefits.

On April 20, 2021, NAFSA and Student Veterans of America (SVA) issued a comment letter to the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, calling on the Veterans Benefits Administration to review this extremely limiting policy on the use of VA benefits for study abroad.

Read the full letter from NAFSA and SVA to Secretary McDonough.

Tuition Benefits

NAFSA's understanding of the VA Policy is as follows. This is based on a 2019 VA training offered to School Certifying Officials.

  Use of Chapter 33 Courses Billing
Exchanges

No

Home institution does not own the courses May/may not be billed through home institution
Faculty Led Depends If home institution teaches/owns all courses - YES If home institution bills the student tuition and gets funds from the VA - YES
Program Providers No Home institution does not own the courses Program providers are not able to be certified to accept VA funds
Direct Enroll Depends If host institution is in the WEAMS database - possible (transfer credits back to home institution)  If direct enroll institution is in the WEAMS database and tuition is billed to that institution from the VA - possible

Please note that more information will follow as the VA provides new training and handbook materials for campus certifying officials.

Housing

Some instances will now allow student monthly housing allowances to reflect the national average for foreign programs instead of the in-state maximum.

Recommendations for Education Abroad Offices

  • Contact your campus's School Certifying Official (SCO) and Veterans Services office to discuss the VA guidance.
  • Review the programs in your portfolio to determine which would be impacted by this guidance. Key to this review should be an assessment of who owns the credit and who bills the student on any given program.

Additional information from the Veterans Benefits Administration