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COVID 19 updates

10/8/2021: 

Beginning October 1, 2021, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) started sending debt notification letters for student benefit debts created between April 6, 2020, and September 30, 2021. The VA Debt Management Center (DMC) recently shared a press release and blog post about resuming debt notifications for students in October 2021.

Key Information for SCOs

  • Relief options continue to be available. Students should contact DMC if they expect difficulties making payments.
  • Debt notifications will include information on collections resuming and will be distributed over several months.
  • Students with benefit debts created prior to April 6, 2020, not under the U.S. Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) jurisdiction and not currently in a repayment plan will also receive additional debt notification letters prior to collections resuming.
  • Students and schools with debt balances under the Treasury's jurisdiction prior to the pandemic will see Treasury collection activities resume in October 2021.
  • Student debt referrals to Treasury, Credit Reporting Agencies or the Credit Alert Interactive Verification System (CAIVRS) will not take place until mid-2022.
  • VA did not pause school debt notifications and continued to make referrals to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) for schools. Due to the overall pause in VA collections, school debts at TOP have not been offset since April of 2020; however, offsets will resume in October 2021.

3/25/2021: 

Information found here: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86511/va-extends-debt-relief-veterans/ 

VA is extending debt relief for Veterans through September 30, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VA will suspend collection of all Veteran benefit overpayments incurred between April 6, 2020, and September 30, 2021. No adverse actions or collection attempts will occur during this suspension period. Additionally, all copayments for medical care and pharmacy services incurred from April 6, 2020, through September 30, 2021, will be cancelled, along with any fees or interest. Any payments for this time period will be refunded.

VA is committed to keeping Veterans informed about their debt and the expansive relief options available.

What will happen next

With regard to benefit overpayments, Veterans will receive a letter from the VA Debt Management Center (DMC) showing current debt amount as well as available options. Subsequent letters will be sent showing updates to Veterans’ accounts.

What Veterans can do now

For benefit overpayments, no action is required through September 30, 2021. That said, if Veterans would like to resolve debts sooner, there are options they can exercise now. VA can work with Veterans to determine what option is best. Options include:

  • Making a payment
  • Establishing a repayment plan
  • Submitting a compromise offer
  • Disputing the debt
  • Requesting a waiver

For benefit debt, information is available online at https://www.va.gov/manage-va-debt/, or by calling the DMC at 800-827-0648, or via IRIS at https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask/.


3/25/2021:

DMC also has a new website that includes a debt portal for Veterans. Veterans with benefit debt can log in to see their debt balance and letters. Please note: the portal is for Veterans only (dependents and school officials do not have access). Veterans can access the tool at https://www.va.gov/manage-va-debt/

Key Information

  • Collection remains paused for all Veteran benefit overpayments incurred between April 6, 2020, and September 30, 2021
  • Relief options for Veterans with debts created prior to April 6, 2020, continue to be available. Veterans and beneficiaries should contact DMC if they are having difficulties making payments
  • Students with questions about VA benefit debt can call the DMC (800-827-0648) from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask/ to submit their requests online. 

Post 9/11 Benefits

Monthly Verification Requirement - Effective Spring 2022 and forward, Post 9/11 users who receive Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and/or kicker payments are required to verify their enrollment to continue receiving their payments. Read below to learn more about what enrollment verification is and how to do it. Verificatoin can be done via text message or the VA Education Call center. More information found on this link.

Tuition/Fee Debts with Post 9/11 Benefits: Per the Isakson and Roe Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, effective 1/5/2020, if a student has a tuition/fee debt with their Post 9/11 benefits (caused by a course withdraw, dropping a class after the term starts or another reason), the debt is initially placed on JMU. Once JMU returns the funds to VA, you are responsible for paying the balance on your account. If it is not paid, you will receive a hold that could prevent registration for an upcoming semester. 

The Isakson and Roe Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 - passed on 1/5/2021. VA is currently working on implementing the changes and not all provisions have been addressed and updated with VA yet. A fact sheet is available for review. 

The Forever GI Bill - Please reference the VA's Forever GI Bill website for more information about the provisions and when they go into effect.


VMSDEP Recipients

JMU does not apply VMSDEP waivers retroactively. Eligible waivers are applied to current and/or future terms as determined by DVS. Student's name must be on the semester roster in the VMSDEP portal by the last day of the current term in order for the waiver to be applied to that term.

Follow their application deadline guidelines to ensure you are approved for the semester you want to start the benefit.

In order to determine eligibility prior to your semester start date, a complete VMSDEP application should be submitted at least 90 calendar days prior to the date tuition and mandatory fees are due to the school. Although VMSDEP accepts applications year-round, please use the following chart as a guide for you to submit timely applications:

Semester You Plan
to Start School
Submit Application By
Fall May 01
Spring September 01
Summer December 15

Fry Recipients

VA now has a dedicated phone line for GI Bill beneficiaries who are a surviving spouse or child of an active duty service member who died in the line of duty and need assistance with their education benefits. A child or surviving spouse can contact the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 and select Option 5.  A highly trained agent with specialized training in survivor benefits will be ready to assist the caller with their education benefits or survivor-related resources.  Agents will be available Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST.



Chapter 1606/1607

Effective Fall 2021 and Forward - the Department of Defense issued a memorandum to Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Education Service approving the use of concurrent receipt for Federal Tuition Assistance (TA) and the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve Education Benefit (MGIB-SR or chapter 1606). 

This means: All qualified MGIB-SR Service members are authorized to use both TA and MGIB-SR benefits concurrently when enrolled in a program of education that is half-time or greater. Concurrent use is not authorized when enrolled less than half-time. 

Prior to Fall 2021, per DOD policy, students cannot use Chapter 1606/1607 and Federal TA for the same course.

How to get a copy of your DD-214 Member 4 - Visit https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal and create a premium account. This will give you access to your military documents, including your DD-214 Member 4 copy. The Member-4 version is preferred by VA when applying for educational benefits.

JMU now offers Advance Registration to Active Duty, Veterans, National Guard and Reserve Members (undergraduate students only).  Please reference this link for information and what documentation you need to provide to receive this benefit.


Chapter 35 DEA

Effective 8/1/2018, the new Forever GI Bill decreases the amount of entitlement that new eligible individuals will receive under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program from 45 months to 36 months. This change applies to individuals who first enroll in programs of education after August 1, 2018.  Individuals who first enrolled in a program of education prior to August 1, 2018, would still qualify for a maximum of 45 months of entitlement. 

Effective 10/1/2018, the amount of educational assistance payable for pursuit of institutional courses and institutional courses under the DEA program. An eligible person will be entitled to a monthly allowance of $1,224 for full-time coursework, $967 for three-quarter time, and $710 for half-time coursework. 

Notice - You may also be eligible for the Virginia state tuition waiver benefit - Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (MSDEP). Visit our website and the Virginia DVS website for more information.

Receiving VA Benefits does not automatically qualify a dependent/spouse for in-state tuition/residency (if from out-of-state). There are specific requirements that must be met to qualify. If you are a prospective/in-coming student: contact the JMU Admissions office at 540-568-5681 or residency@jmu.edu. If you are a current student, contact the University Business Office at 540-568-6505 or ubo@jmu.edu for reclassification.

Please pay all student account charges by the University Business Office deadlines each semester. Chapter 35 benefits pay a monthly stipend that goes directly to the student; therefore, JMU requires Chapter 35 recipients to make arrangements (monthly payment plan, check, loans, grants, financial aid, etc) to cover account charges by the traditional payment deadlines. If you are eligible for the Virginia benefit MSDEP, then that can be factored into covering your account charges (for tuition)


Chapter 31 Veteran Readiness and Employment (VRE)

Effective April 1, 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will no longer count the use of Veterans Readiness & Employment (VR&E) benefits (chapter 31) against the 48-month limit on GI Bill education benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The use of GI Bill education benefits will continue to count against the 48-month limit on VR&E benefits

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