VA Benefit FAQs for Penn Foster College Students | Penn Foster

Military FAQs

VA Benefit FAQs for Penn Foster College Students


Who can I contact at Penn Foster for help with my VA educational benefits?

Please call our VA Support Team at 1-888-427-2900. You may also email bettyjane.llewellyn@pennfoster.edu or stephanie.schroeder@pennfoster.edu. Additionally, the VA Support Team can be reached via email at vafax@pennfoster.com

Can you tell me which VA educational benefits I’m eligible to receive?

No, only the VA can determine your eligibility.  You can call the VA at 1-888-442-4551 to determine if you are qualified to receive VA benefits. 

When does Penn Foster College report my credits to the VA?

In order to receive educational benefits from the Veterans Administration, Penn Foster College students’ must meet minimum standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The minimum standard for these students is measured through attendance, as reflected in the submission and grading of exams and assignments.

Credits will be certified to the VA after a student completes a course and earns a final grade, as long as attendance reflects no absence greater than 30 days. 

How will proctored exams affect my benefits?

Some of your courses (not all) require a proctored final exam.  Your course is not complete until the proctored exam grade has been posted.  Courses that do not include a proctored exam must be completed and receive a final grade without a 30-day gap in attendance in order for it to be certified for benefits.  For courses that do include a proctored exam, if the student completes all lessons without a 30-day gap in attendance but they do not complete the proctored exam within 30 days, then the “last date of training” will be reported to the VA as the Last Date of Attendance.

If you are receiving VA benefits, you have an option that is not available to most other college students.  Penn Foster College students must usually wait until the very end of the semester to take any proctored exams.  However, as student receiving VA benefits, we will allow you to take your proctored exams immediately after finishing a course – you do not have to wait until the end of the semester.  This will allow your “rate of pursuit” to be faster and possibly improve your benefits from the VA.

Our database system only triggers proctored exams at the end of each semester, not after each course.  So if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, you will need to be proactive and contact the Exam Department at edserv@pennfoster.edu each time you finish a course that includes a proctored exam at the end of it.  Be sure to include the phrase “Proctor Exam” in the subject line to speed up the process.

What happens if I am too busy to study and stop submitting lessons?

Once a student receives a grade for the first lesson in a course, they must continue to submit exams/assignments or complete the discussion boards/webinars for that same course at least once every 30 days or less.  Failure to meet that standard (missing 30 days or more in a course) will result in that course not being certified with the Veterans’ Administration for benefits. 

Does Penn Foster follow a traditional 12 to 16 week term?

No. Penn Foster College is considered a “non-standard” school by the VA.  Unlike traditional schools that have a set calendar (typically 12 to 16 weeks) for a school term, Penn Foster allows self-directed, independent study.  A student may take up to one year to complete a semester.  In most cases, the VA will consider your training status to be “less than half-time.” 

How does the 1 year study time affect my benefits?

If you take up to one year to complete all of the courses in a semester, you may not be considered full time by the VA.  Some benefits like the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Book Stipend will be affected because of this.  Conversely, if you complete your courses in less than one year, you may increase your rate of pursuit as calculated by the VA.  For example, if you complete a 3-credit course in thirty days, then that would typically qualify as full time for that course.  Please see the Full Time Equivalency Chart at the end of this document for a guide to finishing your courses at the full-time rate of pursuit.

How are my grades recorded if I do not finish a course?

Once you submit your first exam or assignment, a grade of “I” for Incomplete is recorded for that course.  The “I” is calculated as a zero until all of your course grades have been recorded and your final grade is posted.  If you do not return and complete the remaining exams or assignments within one year, your “I” grade will be permanently changed to an “F.”  You will be required to repeat the course if you decide to resume your studies at a later date.  Please note that extending your semester beyond one year could trigger an automatic “F” for unfinished courses.

When can I expect payment of benefits by the VA?

Penn Foster cannot guarantee that you will receive a set amount of benefits each month.  The Arizona VA office has requested Penn Foster College to certify each course individually as it is completed, as long as you submit each lesson without a 30-day gap between them.  This means you will not be pre-certified for each course or for your entire semester of credits at one time.  The VA has different formulas to calculate how your benefits will be paid based on your Chapter classification and your rate of pursuit.  In most cases, the VA will pay benefits within approximately 30 days of receiving our certification of your completion of a course.   

I want to change my program. Will the VA pay for a new area of study?

Yes, if you still have benefits available to you and the new program is approved for Veterans’ benefits. 

I attended another school before Penn Foster.  Will I receive transfer credit?

Possibly.  In order to receive VA benefits, it is a requirement that you provide all transcripts from prior colleges and universities to Penn Foster College for an evaluation of potential transfer credit within the first six months of your enrollment.  It is imperative that you submit all transcripts to us even if you do not expect to receive any transfer credit toward your program.  Failure to provide transcripts from all prior colleges within the first six months of your enrollment may result in the loss of VA benefits. 

Please send paper transcripts to:
Penn Foster College
14300 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 125
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 

We also ask you to submit documentation of your military training for potential Prior Learning credit.  Go to https://jst.doded.mil/smart/welcome.do to register for a Joint Services Transcript (JST) account and order an electronic transcript at no charge.

We will also accept eTranscripts from the American Council of Education for schools and businesses that participate in approved services.  Go to https://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=transcripts.main for more information about ACE transcripts.

I failed a course and need to repeat it.  Will the VA pay for it again?

In most cases, yes. The VA will pay benefits for a repeated course if it is required for graduation, as long as you meet the attendance standards.

Am I required to report my enrollment to the VA?

No, because we will certify your credits after the course is completed – they call this a “confirmed enrollment.”  Usually, students receiving Chapter 30, 1606, and 1607 benefits must verify their enrollment monthly by Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE).  It can be found under the GI Bill Education Benefits web site:  https://www.gibill.va.gov/wave/index.do

Where can I find more information about the GI Bill educational benefits program?

http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/handouts_forms.asp#educationforms

In determining whole weeks in the course, disregard a fraction of 3 days or less and consider a fraction of 4 days or more as a full week.

Training time can be determined by reading across the Credit Hours per Term line to the Number of Weeks Per Term column.

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