GI Bill® Benefits Declaration
Use the button below to access the online form to declare your benefits. IMPORTANT - you must be enrolled in classes for each term before completing the online declararation form. Failing to be enrolled in classes before submitting your declaration may delay certification of benefits.
Questions & Answers
The SEP provides you with a road map of required courses for your degree. This includes any prerequisites and remedial courses that you may need. Simply having such a document increases your likelihood of successfully completing your educational goals. But more importantly, at least from a benefits perspective, the SEP allows the certifying officials at Veteran Services to quickly assess which classes are eligible for GI Bill® benefits.
Only those courses that are required for your degree are eligible for payment. Elective courses are generally not eligible for benefit payment and they do not count toward the minimum credits necessary for Chapter 33 BAH. You are responsible for all tuition and fees for these non-approved courses. Without the SEP, each class for each veteran must be compared to the stated degree program in the relevant year's catalog to determine if it is required - for each term! This is a very time-consuming process which slows down processing for all veterans.
This is a major change in how the DVA traditionally viewed multiple degrees. Now you may pursue a dual major as part of a single objective or attempt dual objectives.
Dual majors pursued under an academic policy that defines the dual major’s requirements can be certified if both majors are approved for benefits. Only courses required to complete the dual major can be certified.
You may want to pursue a dual objective. For example, you may want to concurrently pursue two different degrees or pursue a degree and a certificate. A program of education may lead to more than one educational, professional, or vocational objective if all objectives pursued are generally recognized as being reasonably related to a single career field. The objectives do not necessarily have to be on the same professional or technical level.
For VSO to properly process your claims we will need a copy of BOTH Student Education Plans (SEPs) marked as "dual degree". You cannot pursue more than two programs at once.
The DVA no longer requires the VA Form 22-1995 if all you are doing is changing your degree at the same school. However, VSO still needs to be made aware of your change so that we can certify you correctly. If you are changing your major:
- Change you degree program in WebAdvisor
- Get a new Student Education Plan (SEP) from counseling
- Provide a copy of the SEP to VSO with a note that you are changing programs
A VA student can round out a schedule with non-required courses to bring his/her course load up to a full-time schedule in his/her last term only. This allows students to continue to receive benefits at the full-time rate in their last term of enrollment, even though fewer credits are required to complete the program.
This procedure can be done only once per program.
In rounding out a full-time schedule, VA students may use any credit hour unit subject, including a subject that has previously been successfully completed (received a passing grade).
The various GI Bill® programs are all elective benefits, meaning that you have to ask for them, they are not automatic. Veteran Services cannot determine by itself if you wish to receive benefits or not. You have to make an affirmation that you wish your benefits to be expended. Some veteran students who plan on taking advanced degrees may choose to not use benefits for relatively inexpensive community college classes, saving those benefits for a time when class tuition and fees are much higher at a university. By declaring classes you are positively stating to us that you wish to "spend" your benefits with us.
Adds and drops affect the amount of your benefits. We need to find out about these immediately so that we can adjust your account with the Department of Veteran Affairs. Otherwise you may become deeply indebted to the government or you may not receive your needed benefits in a timely manner. SWC does have systems in place to "catch" such changes, but they do take longer than if you simply email us and let us know when you make those changes.
Yes, so long as the need for those classes was determined by an SWC assessment test. If you are pursuing an associate degree or plan to transfer to a university for a bachelor's degree and you haven't had a math or English course at a previous institution, you need to be assessed here at SWC to determine your entry level courses.
Note: you cannot take remedial courses online and get benefits. The DVA expressly forbids providing benefits for online remedial courses. You can take such an online remedial course if you wish, but you will not be paid for it and it will not count toward your "rate of pursuit" in determining full-time or part-time attendance.
Yes, in general, prerequisite courses are eligible for payment. If there is a listed prerequisite course in the catalog, it is eligible for payment without much difficulty.
There are a couple of warnings however for remedial prerequisite courses (courses you need to take before you can take the actual prerequisite course itself). If you are taking a remedial math or English course (normally below 100 course numbers for math and at or below 114 for English), you must take an assessment exam first to determine your level of need. We can get you paid for all courses at your current level and above, but not for classes below the level you tested at. You can schedule these exams through the Assessments Office in the Cesar Chavez Building.
The second warning is that the DVA will not pay for remedial courses taken online. This is very important as SWC does offer online remedial courses. You can enroll for such a course but it will not be approved and will not count toward your course load for the term for DVA benefits. You would need to take on-ground versions to get payment.
For traditional (full) terms, you must attend college at over the half-time load. At SWC, this means you have to take more than six APPROVED credit hours of class during the term. Since we have few half-credit courses, this effectively means that you have to take seven credits worth of classes that directly lead to your degree in order to get BAH benefits. So long as you maintain over a half-time course load of approved courses, you will receive the benefit, however, if you drop a class and fall to half-time or below, your benefit will stop effective on the class drop date.
Non-traditional (fast-track) terms use a slightly different method of accounting for credits. However, if you maintain the seven credits through a fast-track, you will also be assured of getting BAH. Because of the nature of non-traditional terms, you may be eligible for payment with fewer units, but it is safer to simply use seven-credit the rule of thumb. It is the DVA's responsibility to determine the minimum number of non-traditional courses necessary to gain benefits.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)