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VA And Active Duty Military Personnel Benefit FAQs

Do you have questions about a Penn Foster program? Browse the list of commonly asked questions below. These are VA and Active Duty Military Personnel specific questions about Penn Foster, and are not program-specific. If you don’t see an answer to your questions, click on the blue box to the right and chat with one of our admissions specialists, or call us to speak with one of our specialists live.

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 or email at [email protected] or [email protected].

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 VA, 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. More specifically, students may not miss more than 30 days during any course if they want to retain their eligibility for VA educational benefits for that course.

We report each course separately after it has been completed, not including the proctored exam (if applicable), as long as your attendance reflects no absence greater than 30 days within that specific course. We will report the date you received your first grade in a course as the “Start Date” and we will report the last grade in the course, not including a proctored exam, as the “End Date.” The VA does not pay benefits for your time between courses.

How will proctored exams affect my benefits?

Most courses do not include a proctored exam and must be completed and receive a final grade without a 30-day gap in attendance in order for it to be certified for benefits. "Final exams" and "final projects" are not the same as proctored exams, and must be completed without an attendance break.

Some of your courses (not all) require a proctored final exam. A proctor is a person you know or an official testing service that observes you taking a special exam after all of your lessons have been completed in a course. Your course is not complete until the proctored exam grade has been posted. For courses where a proctored exam is required at the end, we will report only your “Dates of Training” to the VA, providing you complete all lessons without a 30-day gap in attendance. We will not include the proctored exam in the VA certification regardless of when you complete it.

My check is less than the amount I was told the monthly rate would be. Why did that happen?

The most common reason a check may be less than the monthly rate is that checks are prorated based on the number of days in the month for which you completed a course. All months are based on 30 days for VA benefits, so months with more or less than 30 days would not affect the rate. If your course starts in one month and ends in the next month, you may receive two separate checks (for the exact number of days in each month). For example only:

  • If the monthly benefit is $100.00 and the student is certified 1/1 through 1/15, the student is entitled to approximately $50.00 ($3.33 per day for 15 days).
  • If the student is certified 2/16 through 2/26, the student is entitled to approximately $36.00 ($3.33 per day for 11 days). 
  • If the student is certified 3/1 through 3/31, the student is entitled to $100.00 (a full month's benefit).

Another reason your check might be short would be if an overpayment was deducted from your payment.

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

Once you receive a grade for the first lesson in a course, you must continue to submit exams/assignments or complete the discussion boards/webinars for that specific 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. You will still be eligible for benefits for future courses if you meet the attendance standards.

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 for a school term (typically 12 to 16 weeks), Penn Foster allows self-directed, independent study. You 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." We report each course separately after it has been completed, not including the proctored exam (if applicable). We will report the date you received your first grade in a course as the “Start Date” and we will report the last grade in the course, not including a proctored exam, as the “End Date.” The VA does not pay benefits for your time between courses.

How does the 1 year study time affect my benefits?

If you take a full 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 four weeks (28 days), then that would typically qualify as full time for that course. Please see the Full Time Equivalency Chart for a guide to finishing your courses at the full-time rate of pursuit.

What if I fail a lesson within a course?

In some cases, if you fail a lesson you are required to re-take the lesson and attempt to improve your grade, or you cannot proceed to the next course. In other cases, you have up to 30 days to retake the lesson and attempt to improve your grade. For those optional retakes, if you do not retake the lesson within 30 days, then the original failed grade will stand and you may fail the whole course. Please check with your instructor to find out if a lesson must be retaken in order to move on to the next course.

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. It is a VA requirement that you provide all transcripts from prior colleges and universities to Penn Foster College for an evaluation of potential transfer credit. It is imperative that you submit all transcripts to us even if you do not expect to receive any transfer credit toward your program.

Please send paper transcripts to:
Penn Foster College Registrar
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.

If you cannot provide an official transcript to Penn Foster College for any reason, please forward an unofficial transcript directly to the Registrar Team via email at [email protected] We cannot grant any transfer credit based on an unofficial transcript, but it will satisfy the VA requirement of providing all prior transcripts. If your unofficial transcript indicates that you could have received transfer credit for a course, we will not be able to certify that course for VA benefits when you take it at Penn Foster College, but we will still be able to certify other courses for benefits. If you cannot provide an official or unofficial transcript, please send a note to [email protected] with an explanation. This note will be placed in your file and you may still be able to receive VA benefits for your courses.

Please contact the Registrar at [email protected] if you have additional questions about transfer credit.

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 and are still eligible for benefits.

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?

You can learn more at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/handouts_forms.asp#educationforms

VA Benefit FAQs for Penn Foster Career School 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.  We can also be reached via email at [email protected] with “Veterans Benefits” in the subject line.

Can you tell me which VA educational benefit(s) I'm eligible to receive?

No, only the VA can determine your eligibility.  You can simply call the VA at 1-888-442-4551 to determine if you are qualified to use VA benefits.  We will assist you in establishing your claim with the VA once you know which benefit(s) you are eligible to use, and then further, upon enrollment.

What type of school is Penn Foster Career School considered by the VA?

Penn Foster Career School has been designated as “correspondence training” by the VA.  Even though lessons are submitted online, text books and some software are still mailed for appropriate programs.

What does “correspondence training” mean to me as a student of Penn Foster Career School in regards to VA benefits?

With correspondence training, the VA will generally pay 55% of your tuition if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill® (the older GI Bill®).  Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 Bill) they will pay according to your entitlement.

I am a child of a Veteran - can I use my VA benefits at Penn Foster Career School?

In certain circumstances, yes.  The VA educational assistance is not available for children receiving benefits under the Dependents Educational Assistance program (Chapter 35) for correspondence training.  However, under the Post 9/11 GI BILL® (Chapter 33), the veteran has the option to transfer a percentage of his or her benefits to an eligible spouse or child.  https://www.va.gov/education/transfer-post-9-11-gi-bill-benefits/.

Will I be considered a full-time student?

No.  Because you have the flexibility to work at your own pace with our programs and you will not be set up in a traditional 12 to 16 week term, the VA will consider your status to be “less than part-time” training.

Will I receive any of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Book Stipend?

No. Because your status will be less than part-time, the VA will not pay BAH or a book stipend for Penn Foster Career School students.

How are my lessons and progress reported to the VA?

Lessons are reported quarterly (every three months) to the VA.

How will the VA pay for my classes?

Because the VA will only be paying quarterly for lessons completed, it will be the responsibility of each student to maintain their scheduled payment arrangement to Penn Foster as contracted upon enrollment.¹.

¹ Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill®) As lessons are completed and reported to the VA over the length of your enrollment, it is entirely possible that the VA will at some point begin to make scheduled payments on your behalf.  Upon graduation, if there is any overpayment on your financial account, Penn Foster will refund that money back to you.

¹ Under Montgomery GI Bill® - Active Duty (MGIB-AD/Chapter 30)
¹ Montgomery GI Bill® - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR/Chapter 1606)
¹ Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP/Chapter 1607)
¹ Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA/Chapter 35)
¹ The VA will pay you directly based on your progress.
 

VA Benefit FAQs for Penn Foster High School 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 to speak with a specialist in our VA Support Team. We can also be reached via email at [email protected] with “Veterans Benefits” in the subject line.

Can you tell me which VA educational benefit(s) I'm eligible to receive?

No, only the VA can determine your eligibility. You can simply call the VA at 1-888-442-4551 to determine if you are qualified to use VA benefits.  We will assist you in establishing your claim with the VA once you know which benefit(s) you are eligible to use, and then further, upon enrollment.

What type of school is Penn Foster High School considered by the VA?

Penn Foster High School has been designated as “correspondence training” by the VA. Even though lessons are submitted online, textbooks and some software are still mailed for appropriate programs.

What does "correspondence training" mean to me as a student of Penn Foster High School in regards to VA benefits?

With correspondence training, the VA will generally pay 55% of your tuition if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill® (the older GI Bill®).  Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 Bill) they will pay according to your entitlement.

I am a child of a Veteran - can I use my VA benefits at Penn Foster High School?

In certain circumstances, yes.  The VA educational assistance is not available for children receiving benefits under the Dependents Educational Assistance program (Chapter 35) for correspondence training.  However, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill® (Chapter 33), the veteran has the option to transfer a percentage of his or her benefits to an eligible spouse or child.  http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_transfer.asp

Will I be considered a full-time student?

No. Because you have the flexibility to work at your own pace with our programs and you will not be set up in a traditional 12 to 16 week term, the VA will consider your status to be “less than part-time” training.

Will I receive any of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Book Stipend?

No.  Because your status will be less than part-time, the VA will not pay BAH or a book stipend for Penn Foster High School students.

How are my lessons and progress reported to the VA?

Lessons are reported quarterly (every three months) to the VA.

How will the VA pay for my classes?

Because the VA will only be paying quarterly for lessons completed, it will be the responsibility of each student to maintain their scheduled payment arrangement to Penn Foster as contracted upon enrollment.¹

¹ Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill®) As lessons are completed and reported to the VA over the length of your enrollment, it is entirely possible that the VA will at some point begin to make scheduled payments on your behalf.  Upon graduation, if there is any overpayment on your financial account, Penn Foster will refund that money back to you.
¹ Under Montgomery GI Bill® - Active Duty (MGIB-AD/Chapter 30)
¹ Montgomery GI Bill® - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR/Chapter 1606)
¹ Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP/Chapter 1607)
¹ Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA/Chapter 35)
¹ The VA will pay you directly based on your progress.

VA Chapters

Chapter 30 – Montgomery GI Bill®
Chapter 35 – Dependent Education Benefits (DEA) – Only the spouse of a veteran can use this benefit at the correspondence level(High School and Career)
Child of a vet eligible for college level only
Chapter 1606 – Selected Reserve Education Assistance Program.
Chapter 1607 – Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)
Chapter 32 – Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)
Chapter 33 – The Post 9-11 Bill - ¹Monies are paid to the school directly. Only the spouse of a veteran can use this benefit at the correspondence level (High School and Career)
Child of a vet eligible for college level only
 
¹ Under these five chapters, Career School students' lessons are certified to the VA each quarter and the student is paid accordingly.

Army Credentialing Assistance (CA) FAQs for Penn Foster Students

What is the difference between a certification and a certificate?

Certifications are voluntary credentials offered by non-governmental agencies to set professional standards for qualifications. Certificates are typically issued after an individual attends or participates in a particular meeting or course, are educationally focused rather than occupationally focused, and are not always based on a formal job/practice analysis or role delineation study and may not be assessment based. Certificates are not listed on Army COOL.

How are certifications approved to be listed on Army COOL?

Credentials included on COOL are analyzed carefully and must be relevant to a military occupation and meet COOL credential standards.

What is the difference between COOL and the Army Credentialing Assistance Program?

Army COOL is not the same as the Army Credentialing Assistance (CA) Program. Army COOL is a repository for all credentials that Soldiers wish to pursue and lists credentialing agencies that meet COOL credential standards. COOL does not list training vendors.

How can I request that a credential be added to the COOL website so I can use Army CA for it?

You can use the “recommend a credential” feedback form located on the Army COOL contact page to recommend a credential be added to COOL. Army COOL only includes national certifications and licenses, and does not include state licenses, training courses or certificate programs. Recommended credentials must be relevant to a military occupation and meet COOL credential standards prior to being included on COOL.

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