Frequently Asked Questions
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(update 4 June 2020)
As you are now aware, the COVID-19 situation has forced George Mason to modify its planned Fall 2020 operations. Many classes will be moved to a distance learning modality, while some in-person classes will have significant restrictions on availability of seats. We understand that this may have an impact on students using the Post-9/11 GI Bill who receive the monthly housing allowance (MHA). S.3503, which was signed into law on 21 March 2020, allows for institutions of higher learning to certify distance learning courses as if they were being taken in-residence, if the modality change was a result of COVID-19 and the term begins prior to 21 December 2020. After consultations with the Office of the Registrar, George Mason will be certifying all Fall 2020 classes as in-residence under this provision. Students will receive the in-residence MHA, as if they were attending classes in-person, regardless of the actual modality of their classes. Other requirements regarding rate-of-pursuit, eligibility percentage, delimiting dates, and exhaustion of benefits remain in effect.
(update 18 May 2020)
Please see the official guidance from the Office of the Registrar for the most current guidfanc on alternative grading options here.
XP (Extraordinary Circumstances – Pass) – The student earns credit in the course but has not met a minimum grade threshold to apply the course to requirements with a minimum grade requirement; at the undergraduate level this would be a C- or D, at the graduate level it would be a C.
(updated 3 April 2020)
Good Afternoon Students, Thank you for your patience as we waited for updates from the VA regarding implementation guidelines for new legislation protecting VA education benefit recipients. Please read below for information covering a variety of topics.
Alternative Grading Option: If an alternative grading option is selected for a course and the final grading category for a class results in no credit earned, the reduction in credits must be reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Schools are required to report the adjustment and notate “student completed term but non-punitive grades assigned for one or more courses.” Although the VA does not typically make payments for classes resulting in nonpunitive grades, if COVID-19 is reported as mitigating circumstances, VA will pay for the class. For all students that select the alternative grading option and the following grading category is the result, we will report the nonpunitive grade and claim mitigating circumstances due to Covid-19.
Undergraduate Students: XN is considered no credit earned
Graduate students: XP or XN is considered no credit earned
Withdrawals: Selective Withdrawals have been extended to the end of the semester, with no penalty against the “max of three selective withdrawals” in effect. Selective withdrawals will be processed according to VA policy. We have been instructed to report Covid-19 as mitigating circumstances. If the reduction changes the student’s rate of pursuit, the monthly housing allowance will be affected. Additionally, there may be tuition liability from the last day of attendance until the end of the term. Please consider the potential debt if selecting this option. I
llness due to Covid-19: Normal VA reporting rules apply. We must report last day of attendance along with mitigating circumstances. In these situations, the law DOES NOT allow VA to continue payments beyond the last day of attendance. In these situations, we will work with students to apply for a tuition exemption for any debt owed to the school for tuition liability. However, there will be a debt for the monthly housing allowance recouped by the VA.
Extension of the last day of term: We have had several inquiries regarding the reporting of the additional week added to the end of term. We are required by law to report change in term dates. If there is a change in enrollment dates, the SCO must adjust all elements of the enrollment certification to match actual enrollment timeframe.
Summer Registration: Summer registration is delayed until April 15th. In accordance with VA guidance, institutions which convert modalities due to Covid-19 may submit certification of residence courses converted to online modality as resident courses if they meet certain requirements. We intend to submit all summer courses as resident courses for Summer 2020.
Additional Information is available:
During the extraordinary challenges our community faces in the fight against Covid-19, we know that resources can be hard to find. We would like to highlight ServingTogether. They are especially passionate about connecting you to resources that promote mental health and well-being. ServingTogether Peer Navigators are available Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. They continue to work remotely and to conduct intakes and make curated referrals to providers in your communities. Peer Navigators can be reached at 301-738-7176 or visit the following link to submit a request online: https://servingtogetherproject.org/ Please know we are here for any questions and will do our best assist. Stay safe!
(updated 20 March 2020)
We wanted to share with you an email we received late yesterday afternoon. The text is below along with a phone number you can call if you have any questions. The training mentioned in the note suggests universities will receive training. Our training is scheduled for next Thursday and Friday. We will let you know the details afterwards. Please know the bill was vague in content, leaving the majority of details at the Secretary level for implementation. We hope you all are doing well and miss our office and friendships dearly. Take care!
Message from the VA:
Over the past two weeks, VA has worked with Congress to preserve GI Bill benefits for impacted students during this difficult time. The Senate and House passed S.3503 and the bill will be headed to POTUS to sign, which will give the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. The new law allows for VA to continue to pay benefits regardless of the fact that the program has changed from resident training to online training. Also, students will continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments that they received for resident training until January 1, 2021, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training. VA is working to immediately implement the new changes to address current and future school terms to ensure students continue to receive their education benefits.
What should GI Bill Students know?
There is no action required from a GI Bill student. VA has scheduled several training sessions with all VA approved schools and training facilities over the next couple of days to provide further guidance. We will work closely with schools to ensure enrollments are accurately certified and processed timely. If you have questions about your specific circumstance, please contact the Education Call Center at: 1-888-442-4551 between 8 AM and 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
(updated 18 March 2020)
The main question is what is the impact, if any, to GI Bill recipients when their schools are either closed or has directed their students to take classes online as a result of precautions taken due to COVID-19? The answer will depend on the type of action taken by the school, the timing of the action, and the current program approval. Please note ALL our programs that are approved at Mason are approved for both classroom and online instruction.
If a school temporarily closes due to an established policy based on an Executive order of the President or due to an emergency situation, VA may continue benefit payments (including the Monthly Housing Allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) for up to 4 weeks during a 12-month period. This authority, and limitation, are codified in statute (38 U.S.C. § 3680(a)(2)(A).
If the school remains open (virtually, rather than physically), and students are transitioned to pursuit solely through online classes, then benefit payments will be impacted as follows:
If the switch from training in-residence to online classes occurs during the term, and the program has been approved by the State Approving Agency for delivery through an online modality, then benefit payments (including the Monthly Housing Allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) will remain unchanged for the remainder of that term.
However, for any subsequent terms pursued solely online, the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will be reduced to one-half of the national average of DoD’s Basic Allowance for Housing rates for an E-5 with dependents. The limitations on MHA rates are codified in statute (38 U.S.C. § 3313(c)(1)(B)(iii).
Additionally, emergency legislation has been introduced that would protect Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits if colleges shift to online classes in response to the coronavirus outbreak. We will be sure to keep you updated as information becomes available.
George Mason uses a dual-certification process. The initial information sent to the VA is only credit hours—this allows the VA to being immediate payment of book stipend and housing stipend. A second certification will be sent to the VA after the tuition-penalty add/drop periods are over. This certification will include tuition and fees.
Student must be 100% eligible for Post-9/11. Student may not be on active duty or active duty spouse (until 1 August 2022). Children of active duty servicemembers who are 100% eligible may receive Yellow Ribbon. Student will likely benefit more from Section 702, if eligible.
Per DoDI 1000.13, 23 January 2014, “Examples of authorized photocopying include photocopying of DoD ID cards to facilitate…military-related benefits to eligible beneficiaries.”
Depends highly on the student’s degree program and the study abroad program. Generally, if the study abroad program requirement can be fulfilled domestically, the VA will only cover tuition. If the student’s degree program (usually graduate) specifically requires a study abroad program, the VA may cover more. Student should ask Study Abroad for a cost-breakdown sheet.
The Office of Admissions is the primary contact for admission information. A competitive transfer students generally has a 2.85+ college GPA which aligns with the crtieria published in guaranteed admissions agreements with VCCS. Students who have been out of high school for 5+ years do not have to submit SAT/ACT scores. Transfer students have rolling admissions, freshman students have hard deadlines to apply.
Schools use the VA Once website to communicate enrollment information to the VA. The VA uses social security numbers as file numbers.
When the school bills the VA for tuition and recieves payment of tuition and fees, the enrollment deposit will appear as a credit in the student’s account, and may then be withdrawn.
Scholarships and grants that specifically pay for tuition will be deducted from the tuition billed to the VA. Scholarships and grants that are not tuition specific will not affect the amount of money billed to the VA. However, those funds won't be refundable until the VA has paid.
Transfer of benefits can be initiated or adjusted at https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/. Servicemembers must have served a minimum of six years and commit to an additional service obligation, generally four years.
Students must submit a Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (W.A.V.E) every month on https://www.gibill.va.gov/wave/index.do or 1-877-823-2378. We recommend that students submit toward the end of the month.
TA authorization paperwork is sent to Third Party Billing. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Student Accounts phone number, 703-993-2484.