November 28, 2012

VA Stipend for Books and Supplies

If you're using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you are eligible for a stipend for books and supplies. The stipend is capped at $1,000 per year, but your payment amount actually depends on how many units or credits you're enrolled in. The payment and the cap are also pro-rated according to your eligibility tier.

Here's the formula: $41.67 x number of credits x your eligibility tier = book stipend, not to exceed $1,000 per academic year.

For example, if you are in the 100% eligibility tier, and you enrolled in 12 credits (units), then you would receive $41.67 x 12, or $500.04 for the Fall term. Next term, if you are enrolled in 12 more units, you would only get $499.96 because you would have reached the limit of $1,000 per year.

If you enroll in more units in the first term, you will get more book money the first term, but less in the second. If you are less than 100% eligible, your payments will be reduced accordingly, as well as the cap. Once you reach the annual limit, you won't get any more book money until next Fall, as the VA's academic year runs from August 1 - July 31.

So, what do you need to do to get the stipend?

Nothing, other than enroll in classes and request VA certification for the term from your School Certifying Official. When the VA processes your certification, they will check to see if you are eligible and still have funds remaining, and send your payment to you automatically. You don't need to submit any receipts. The stipend may not cover the cost of all your books, so you may wish to consider purchasing used books or applying for financial aid to help cover the rest of the cost. You don't have to use the stipend for books either - you can use it for parking passes, a computer, meals on campus, or whatever you need. The benefit is intended to help you cover the cost of miscellaneous college expenses.

One last reminder: your payment goes to you by direct deposit, so you need to make sure your bank account and contact information is correct, and update it immediately if you move or change banks. You can verify your information by calling the VA's Direct Deposit Center at 877-838-2778. We also suggest that you check your payments with a calculator each term, to ensure you are being paid correctly.

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