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VA FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for common questions on:
Educational Benefits Processing
Additional Aid for College
Children/Spousal Benefits
GI Bill
Illinois Veterans Grant
Illinois National Guard Grant
MIA/POW Scholarship
Enrollment changes/issues – Effects on Benefits
Contacts for Questions/Problems





Educational Benefits Processing

What role does Parkland play in processing VA educational benefits?
The Office of Financial Aid acts as a liaison between you (the student) and the VA. One of our staff members, designated as the "certifying official,” acts as the eyes and ears for the VA by submitting enrollment verification to the VA in a timely manner. The Financial Aid Office is not equipped or trained to assist you with other types of VA questions, such as VA home loan information, death benefits, etc. There is a local VA office, located on University Avenue in Champaign, which can assist you with other VA-related benefit questions.

How do I start my federal or state VA educational benefits?
Please see our How to Apply page for more information.

How long will it take for my benefits to be processed?
Federal: Once our office has certified your hours for your federal Veterans benefits and submitted the information to the VA, it will take approximately 10 to 12 weeks for the VA to continue processing your application.
State: After submitting your application for state veterans benefits to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) or the Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs, it will take approximately four weeks to receive your eligibility letter.

Can I call the VA to speed up the process?
No; the VA has requested that you not call it until the allowable time mentioned above has passed.

Do I receive payment only during the in-school period?
Yes.  Break pay is eliminated beginning Aug. 1, 2011.

If I’m applying for VA educational benefits can I defer my tuition payment until I receive my first check?
You are responsible for payment of tuition and fees at the time such payment is due. Contact our Veterans Coordinator, ktaylor@parkland.edu or call 217/351-2228 for tuition deferment options.


Additional Aid for College

Can I receive financial aid and Veterans benefits at the same time?
Yes, if you are eligible you can receive veterans benefits and financial aid.

Can I receive both federal GI bill benefits and the Illinois Veterans Grant at the same time?
This depends on your eligibility and the benefit you are using. See a financial aid advisor for more information.

My income has changed since I am no longer active duty, but I have to use last year’s taxes to apply for financial aid. Is there any way the financial aid application can evaluate me based on my new income?
Yes, if you are making less this year than you did on your most recent tax forms, you can complete a special circumstance form and submit it along with the required documentation to the Office of Financial Aid. We will then change the information on your FAFSA to reflect your current income and re-evaluate your aid eligibility.


Children/Spousal Benefits

I am a child/spouse of a veteran; what scholarships are available to me?
Federal: The federal VA provides Chapter 35 benefits for the children/spouse of any veteran who is 100% totally and permanently disabled due to a service connected cause. If the veteran is eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and chooses to transfer the benefit to you, you maybe eligible for all or a portion of the veteran's benefit.
State: The state VA provides the MIA/POW Scholarship for the children/spouse of any Illinois veteran who is either 100% totally and permanently disabled due to a service connected case, was missing in action, killed in action, or a prisoner of war. The veteran must have signed up for the military from Illinois and returned to Illinois within six months of their date of discharge. The MIA/POW Scholarship is available through the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Other scholarships: You can search online at www.fastweb.com or check with your local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars offices.


GI Bill

How do I request a copy of my DD214?
Instructions on how to obtain a copy of your DD214 are available from the National Archives.

How do I get my military hours evaluated?
If you would like to have your military hours evaluated, you should contact an Associate Director in Admissions. Note: all hours transferred into Parkland will be counted toward your maximum of 96 attempted hours for financial aid.

I called the VA and they said that they have not received my certification, what should I do?
Check http://my.parkland.edu to make sure you have been certified for the term. If you have, then the VA just needs more time to process the information. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process. If you have not been certified, check with the Parkland College Certifying Official to find out what information is needed for you to be certified.

I used my Federal VA benefits at another school, how do I transfer them to Parkland?
To transfer your Federal VA benefits to Parkland, you need to complete a form 22-1995 (Change of Program or Place of Training), and the Parkland Initial Certification Request form, attach a member 4 copy of your DD214 or your NOBE and turn them into the Parkland Office of Financial Aid when meeting with a Financial Aid advisor.

Can I transfer my GI bill entitlement to someone else?
Normally you can not transfer your entitlement to anyone. However, the Air Force and the Army have allowed a few people to transfer entitlement to their spouses if they meet strict criteria. If you were authorized to do this, then you must submit paperwork that was given to you at the time you signed up for this. The Post 9/11 GI Bill also allows for transfer.

I have exhausted my federal benefits, but I am still in school. Can I get an extension?
You will need to submit a Statement in Support of Claim (21-4138) to the VA explaining the reasons for your changes in program with supporting documentation attached.


Illinois Veterans Grant

Who is eligible for the Illinois Veterans Grant?
Generally, anyone will qualify who was a resident of Illinois at the time of entering federal active duty or was an Illinois public university or community college student at the time of entering federal active duty, served at least one year of honorable service, and established or plans to establish Illinois residency within six months after separation from the Armed Forces; who is married to a person in continued military service, applying for this grant within six months after and including the date that the spouse was stationed within Illinois; or who, if the spouse was stationed outside Illinois, established residence with six months after and including the date the spouse was separated. Note: If you are eligible for the Illinois Veterans' Grant, you cannot use the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant.

What does the grant cover?
It covers only mandatory tuition and fees and out of district tuition. Course fees, as well as books or supplies, must be paid by you.

Can the grant be used at a private college or university?
No; it can only be used at Illinois state funded colleges or universities.

How long does it take to get approved for it?
Once you have mailed the application with the required documentation, the approval process takes approximately four weeks.

How do I know if I’ve been approved?
After the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has determined your eligibility for the IVG Program, they will mail an authorization letter directly to you. You should submit a copy to our office and keep the original for your permanent file. The copy is used to activate IVG eligibility for future terms.

How often do I have to apply for the grant?
You only need to apply for this benefit once.

Do I have to be degree/certificate seeking in order to use the grant?
No, there is no requirement that you have to be degree-seeking.

How long does grant eligibility last?
You are entitled to receive maximum benefits for the equivalent of five (5) full-time academic years including summer terms. Eligibility expires at 120 units of usage. Entitlement is assessed by converting credit hours to "eligibility units" as follows:
Credit Hours Enrolled Units Used
12 or more hours 12
9 to 11 hours 9
6 to 8 hours 6
3 to 5 hours 3
1 to 2 hours 1

If I am eligible for the Illinois Veterans Grant, do I have to use it when I enroll?
That depends upon your eligibility for other state aid - namely the Monetary Award Program. If you have MAP eligibility, you are required to use IVG  or the Post 9/11 GI Bill first; no exceptions.

Can I use the grant at two institutions at the same time?
Yes; you should present a copy of your eligibility letter to the appropriate office at both institutions.


Illinois National Guard Grant

Who is eligible for the Illinois National Guard Grant?
Members of the Illinois National Guard or the Illinois Naval Militia who have served at least one year and who are currently in the guard or militia may apply for this grant. This grant is open to all officers, as well as enlisted personnel. Note: If you are eligible for the Illinois National Guard Grant, you cannot use the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant.

What does the grant cover?
It covers only mandatory tuition and fees and out of district tuition. Course fees, as well as books or supplies, must be paid by you.

Can the grant be used at a private college or university?
No; it can only be used at Illinois state funded colleges or universities.

How long does it take to get approved for it?
Once you have mailed the application with the required documentation, the approval process takes approximately four weeks.

How do I know if I’ve been approved?
After the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has determined your eligibility for the ING Program, they will mail an eligibility letter directly to you. You must submit a copy to our office for payment and audit purposes.

How often do I have to apply for the grant?
You need to apply each academic year; applications are available at www.collegezone.com. The application has deadline dates, so you should apply early each year.

Do I have to be degree/certificate seeking in order to use the grant?
No, there is no requirement that you have to be degree-seeking.

If I am eligible for the Illinois National Guard Grant, do I have to use it when I enroll?
That depends upon your eligibility for other state aid - namely the Monetary Award Program. If you have MAP eligibility, you are required to use ING first; no exceptions.

Can I use the grant at two institutions at the same time?
If both schools agree, you can complete a concurrent enrollment form. You must arrange payment of classes at the second institution.


MIA/POW Scholarship

Who is eligible for the MIA/POW Scholarship?
To qualify, you must be the spouse/child of a veteran who signed up for the military from Illinois and returned to Illinois within six months of the date of discharge. The discharge must be honorable and the veteran must have been either killed in action, missing in action, a prisoner of war, or 100% totally and permanently disabled due to service-connected causes.

What does the scholarship cover?
It covers in-district mandatory tuition and fees only, not books or supplies or out-of-district tuition.

Can the scholarship be used at a private college or university?
No; it can only be used at Illinois public colleges or universities.

How long does it take to get approved for it?
Once you have submitted your application to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, it should take approximately four weeks to receive your notice of eligibility.

How do I know if I’ve been approved?
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will mail you an eligibility card.

How often do I have to apply for the scholarship?
You only need to apply for this benefit once.

Do I have to be degree/certificate seeking in order to use the scholarship?
No, there is no requirement that you have to be degree-seeking.

How long does scholarship eligibility last?
The total benefit provided shall not exceed the cost equivalent of four calendar years of full time enrollment at the University of Illinois (including summer terms).

Enrollment changes/issues – Effects on Benefits

What happens to my VA benefits if I withdraw from a class?
Federal: For GI Bill or survivors’ benefits, you may owe money back in the form of an overpayment to the VA. The VA will inform you of the amount.
State: For the Illinois Veterans Grant, Illinois National Guard Grant, and MIA/POW scholarship, you will use up your units of eligibility for that class that you withdraw from, but there are no further consequences.

How much do I pay back to the VA for a change in enrollment status?
If the drop or withdrawal results in a change in enrollment status (e.g., from full-time to half-time), you are entitled to only half-time benefits for the entire semester/term. As a result, you will have to repay half of all funds received to date for the term.
First-time course withdrawal: However, mitigating circumstances will be considered to exist by the VA without explanation from you for only the first instance of withdrawal from a course or courses totaling not more than 6 semester hours. Any enrollment status changes during subsequent terms will result in repayment by you.
Overpayment: If you are charged an overpayment based on your withdrawal from class(es) and the withdrawal was due to circumstances beyond your control, you can submit an appeal by completing the form, Statement in Support of Claim (21-4138), and submitting it to the VA.

I’m being deployed during the semester; what do I do about withdrawing from my classes?
Come to our office and see a financial aid advisor during the walk-in hours. Be sure and bring your Activation Orders with you.
How many hours do I have to enroll in during the summer to be considered full-time for VA benefits?
Unlike federal financial aid programs, VA benefits come under the registrar's definition of full-time for the summer term (i.e., 6 or more hours).

I used my State VA benefits at another school, how do I transfer them to Parkland?
For the Illinois Veterans Grant or MIA/POW scholarship, you just need to turn in a copy of your eligibility letter/card to the Parkland College Office of Financial Aid.
For the Illinois National Guard Grant, you will need to contact the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) at 1-800-899-4722 to change your school. Once ISAC sends you your updated letter of eligibility, you will need to bring that into the Parkland College Office of Financial Aid.

I am attending Parkland and another school at the same time. My other school is outside the St. Louis region. What do I do?
First, determine which is your home school. Notify the supplemental school that your home school is in a different VA region. Make sure to inform the Certifying Official of the region your home school is in and provide them with a fax number so that they can submit your certification by fax. The certification cannot be sent electronically as it will automatically go to the nearest VA which will delay your processing.

I have changed my program three times, with a material loss of credit each time and now the VA has discontinued my federal benefits. What do I do?
You will need to submit a Statement in Support of Claim (21-4138) to the VA explaining the reasons for your changes in program with supporting documentation attached.

Why aren't Applied Learning Skill (ALS) classes approved for VA benefits?
The VA will not approve ALS classes at Parkland because they do not have published entrance and exit dates. Therefore, Parkland cannot include ALS hours in your enrollment status. Only the remedial coursework number (090 etc.) are approved for VA benefits.


Contacts for Questions/Problems

What is the best way to contact the VA?
The best way to contact the VA is by going to the GI bill website. Then, click on ask a question and email your question to the VA. If you do not want to use email, then you can call them at 1-888-442-4551. Make sure you call from a phone with an area code in St. Louis’ region. Otherwise, your call will automatically be directed to the Regional Office associated with that area code.

Who should I call if I have a problem concerning my GI bill payment?
If you have a problem with your payment, you should call the toll free VA number at: 1-888-442-4551 or contact them by email by going to the ask a question feature on the GI bill website at www.gibill.va.gov to resolve the problem. The Certifying Official merely serves as the eyes and ears for you and does not have any authority over the VA. If your problem is not resolved after contacting the VA, you should speak to the Certifying Official for further advice.

Who should I contact if my mailing address changes?
When you change your mailing address, the college's Admissions and Records Office must be notified as well as the VA. You can change your address on the WAVE website.

Where can I get more information about the Troops to Teachers program?
You can find information on the Troops to Teachers website.

I’m being deployed and my teacher won’t work with me. Who do I contact?
If you’ve attempted to work with your instructor and your matter is not resolved, you should speak with the Department Chair. If the matter is still not resolved, contact the Dean of Academic Services.

Is Parkland a Service Members Opportunity College? Who is the point of contact?
Yes. Parkland is a Service Members Opportunity College. If you have questions, you should contact an Associate Director in Admissions.

Who works with ROTC students at Parkland?
If you have questions about ROTC, you should contact the Associate Director of Admissions.

Who should I contact about Vocational Rehabilitation?
If you think you may be eligible for VA Vocational Rehabilitation, you can contact a case manager at (217)554-4830.






 

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