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) presented at the 2021 NAFSA Education Abroad Regulatory Summit.
On September 14, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of bills related to U.S. veterans benefits and care. One of the bills, H.R. 7939, includes a provision (Section 9 in the bill) that will permit student veterans to use their education benefits for more types of study abroad programming than what is currently allowed by Veterans Affairs guidance detailed below. NAFSA partnered with Student Veterans of America (SVA) in advocating for such a legislative fix. The package of bills next goes to the Senate, where hopefully it will be taken up before the end of the year. NAFSA and SVA continue to engage on this issue.
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.
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.
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|
|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.
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.