If you want your VA benefits to help cover the costs of a study-abroad session, it's possible—if you're required to study abroad to complete the program or if the course is part of your degree as a requirement or an approved elective.
Department of Veterans Affairs funds are generally limited to the equivalent undergraduate in-state tuition rate for the number of credit hours applicable to the degree program. If studying abroad is required, the VA may also pay the fees. In general, basic allowance for housing (BAH) rates apply based on rate of pursuit.
Examples of programs with study-abroad requirements/options include:
- Global Affairs MA, which requires a residency abroad, typically about two weeks.
- History BA, concentration in Global History, which strongly encourages majors to study abroad.
- Conflict Analysis and Resolution BS and BA, which have a field experience requirement that can be fulfilled by a study-abroad session.
- Art History BA, in which up to 6 credits of ARTH 398 Study Abroad in the History of Art can be applied to the major.
- Foreign Languages BA, in which students are highly encouraged to participate in a study-abroad session.
Mason's Office of Global Education maintains a list of all study-abroad opportunities. If you want to use VA benefits for one of these programs, the office will require a benefits worksheet, which will be provided by the Global Education Office. For more information about payment policies, read the Mason GEO Study Abroad fact sheet for VA Benefits (PDF). Please see below for a list of frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions, contact the Office of Military Services at 703-993-1316.
What study abroad programs can utilize VA benefits?
Instructor-led programs, where a student enrolls at Mason for a course that meets domestically and internationally. The student will be certified by George Mason.
GMU Korea is a branch campus of George Mason. The student will be certified by George Mason.
Study abroad programs at foreign universities that are approved for VA benefits, if the study abroad courses transfer back to Mason for credit. Students must have a parent letter provided by a George Mason School Certifying Official (SCO) that they will turn in to the foreign institution’s SCO (see below for more information). The student will be certified by the foreign institution.
Additional information for veterans wishing to use VA benefits to study abroad can be found here.
How do I know if a foreign institution is approved to accept VA benefits?
Students may use the VA Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS) database at https://inquiry.vba.va.gov/weamspub/buildSearchCountryCriteria.do to identify foreign institutions that are approved for VA benefits and contact information for the foreign institution’s SCOs.
What programs can NOT utilize VA benefits?
Study abroad programs where the student registers for courses at George Mason and pays George Mason tuition, and Mason then arranges for them to attend a foreign university, are NOT approved to utilize VA benefits.
What is a parent letter?
A student wishing to use VA benefits to pay for credits as a guest student at a non-Mason institution that is also approved to accept VA benefits must have a letter from a GMU SCO certifying that the courses the student is taking will transfer back to Mason and count toward the student’s academic progress. In order to provide a parent letter, a student must provide a Study Elsewhere request approved by the student’s department and a list of the courses the student will take at the foreign institution with their GMU equivalent. If a student enrolls in classes that are not listed on the parent letter, or subsequently adds classes that are not on the parent letter, it may invalidate the parent letter.
What expenses are covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
For instructor-led programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover the normal GMU tuition and tuition-related fees that would be charged to a similar in-state student with the same Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility percentage. For programs that are certified by a foreign institution, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay tuition and tuition-related fees, based on the student’s Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility percentage, up to the VA-established National Maximum ($25,162.14 as of August 1, 2020). Students whose academic programs require a study abroad experience may be eligible for additional coverage of program fees.
What expenses are not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Room, board, travel arrangements, program fees, and any expenses that are not tuition and tuition-related fees will not be paid by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
What Post-9/11 GI Bill housing allowance will I receive?
Faculty-led study abroad students will continue to receive the GMU Fairfax housing allowance. Students at GMU Korea and students certified by other institutions will receive the VA foreign school rate ($1,789.00 as of 1 August 2019). Students in less than full-time status will receive a prorated amount. Students at half-time status or less will not receive a monthly housing stipend. Students in programs that are shorter than one month will receive prorated amounts based on the length of their programs. Students with less than 100% Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility will receive a percentage of the full housing stipend.
Who do I contact for more information or to provide documentation to?
Please contact the Office of Military Services at 703-993-1316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.