Veteran FAQ’s

Below are some common questions that you may find helpful relative to the college resources and responsibilities, general veteran information, and information specific to the Post-911 GI Bill®.

More answers to frequently asked questions may be found through the following resources:         

Is the university application process for veterans and military personnel different from the regular application process?

No, all applicants follow the same application procedure.

Who is the Westfield School Certifying Official?

Justin Marques
Bates Hall, Room 15.
(413) 572-8420
jmarques@westfield.ma.edu

How do I provide my VA documents to Westfield State’s Certifying Official?

You may mail, hand deliver, fax, or email your certificate of eligibility to the Certifying Official.

In person: 
Military Community Excellence Center
Bates Hall
Room 15

By mail:
Westfield State University
Attn: Veteran & Military Services
577 Western Ave
PO Box 1630
Westfield, MA  01086

Via fax:
Attn: VA Certifying Official
413-572-8642

Via email:
jmarques@westfield.ma.edu or
lducharme@westfield.ma.edu

Can I receive college credit for my military training?

Any military training you received that may qualify for college credit is evaluated by the WSU Admissions offices, however, if you are in the Criminal Justice Program, you will need to contact Veteran & Military Services. While credits earned for military-related training do not factor into the admissions process, the academic dean for the program you major in may accept some or all of that credit and apply it toward your degree requirements. Provide the Admissions office with your official military transcripts, for all branches, except Air Force, may be ordered through jst.doded.mil, and Air Force transcripts can be order through airuniversity.af.mil/Barnes/CCAF.

How do I get a copy of my DD214? 

You can obtain a copy of your DD Form 214, by logging into your eBenefits account, and requesting a copy.  If you do not already have an account, you will need to create one.

You can also request a copy from the National Archives. After obtaining your DD214, be sure to keep this document in a safe place. Also note that it is not advisable to register for your DD214 through a county courthouse since doing so makes the process a public record, which could then lead to identity theft.

What is the process for veterans applying for admission to WSU?

The admission process is the same for veterans as it is for every other student and it’s best to review the admissions page before applying. Admission applications for all types of WSU applicants (freshman, transfer, graduate, etc.) can be completed and submitted online.

Is there a discounted tuition rate for veterans?

Yes for veterans and military members, who are residents of MA, and are matriculated into a degree program. Veterans of Massachusetts, can be eligible for a tuition waiver (officially known as "categorical tuition waivers") at any state-supported course in an undergraduate degree program offered by a public college or university. To be eligible, a veteran must also be a legal resident of Massachusetts and he/she must not be in default of any federal student loans. However, you must provide Veteran & Military Services, in Bates Hall, room 15 a copy of your DD Form 214. 

Westfield State University, College of Graduate and Continuing Education, also provides a CGCE Veteran waiver for Undergraduate and Graduate programs, using the same criteria as the categorical tuition waiver. 

Documentation must be presented to Veteran & Military Services for verification of eligibility and processing.

Note:  Tuition waivers generally apply to programs leading to a degree or certificate. Schools may exclude non-credit courses from any or all waivers and they may exclude night courses or certificate programs, which do not have state funding.

Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits are divided into different “chapters.” How do I know which chapter I qualify for?

An outline of the different VA educational-benefit chapters may be found toward the bottom of benefits.va.gov/gibill/comparison_tool.asp.  Note, you may qualify for more than one, and will need to decide which one it would be best for you to accept, it is always best before deciding which benefit is best for you to contact the VA Education Help line at 1-888-442-4551 or ask your questions online through VA Ask a question.  However, our WSU Veteran & Military Services team located in the Military Community Excellence Center can provide assistance.

What documents do I need to submit to the WSU Veteran & Military Services to receive my VA educational benefits?  

You will need to submit your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which is a letter from the VA.   Every semester you are required to submit a Certification Request form.

How many months of VA educational benefits (or entitlement) do I have left? You can access your remaining entitlements by going to the VA eBenefits page, for Chapter 1606, 1607 and Chapter 30, you will be able to get that information from the WAVE system. Or you can contact the VA Education Help line at 1-888-442-4551.

What fees are covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill®?

Only those fees that are considered mandatory and/or charged to all students in your school or program are eligible to be covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill®.  This includes fees to all students in your school and the basic level of the Health Insurance plan.  It also includes course fees, such as language fees, and any other fee that is required for your course of study.

No fees associated with room or food are covered, including the dining plans. Any penalty fees, additional printing fees, and other such expenses are not eligible to be covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill®.

If you have a question about a specific fee and whether it will be covered, please contact the school Certifying Official.

Do I need to reapply for my VA educational benefits every semester?

After your initial registration for educational benefits has been completed, you will only need to resubmit the WSU Certification Request form each semester.  The exception is if you change your place or program, then you will be required to notify the VA.

Will VA educational benefits cover the cost of remedial or deficiency courses?

Most VA educational benefit programs (or “chapters”) cover the cost of remedial or deficiency courses, but only if a placement test indicates that you need to take that type of course, or if the course is required as a prerequisite for another course in your major.  You will need to check with Veteran & Military Services prior to registering for the class to verify it will be covered.

What happens if I change my schedule after I submit my WSU Certification Request Form?

Notify the Veteran & Military Services office  right away via email so your new schedule can be reviewed to (1) make sure the replacement course(s) are applicable to your major (VA educational benefits only cover courses that fulfill the degree requirements for your major), and (2) avoid any overpayment situations.

When do I start to receive my VA educational benefits?

The VA will process your benefits as quickly as possible but this can take several weeks from the first time you apply. Once you are in the VA system, though – and if you submit your WSU Certification Request Form before the start of each semester – your benefits should be provided to you continuously (with any monthly stipends paid at the end of each month during a semester).

I qualify for Chapter 33 benefits. When can I expect to receive my textbook stipend and housing allowance?

The textbook stipend is paid generally a week before classes start.   The Housing Allowance, meanwhile, and all other monthly stipends are paid at the end of each month during a semester. Keep in mind that partial months are paid at a prorated rate. For example, if a fall semester begins on September 5th, your BAH/Stipend payment will only be for approx. 25 days between September 5th and September 30th.  This information is based on you submitting your WSU Certification Request Form in a timely manner.

How many credit hours do I need to take to be classified as a fulltime student?

WSU requires undergraduate students to take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester to be classified as full-time, and graduate students take a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester to be classified as full-time. However, you should also check the credit-hour requirements to be classified as full-time by the VA educational benefits program through which you receive your benefits, as well as for any financial aid purposes.

What level of VA educational benefits am I entitled to if I’m not classified as a full-time student?

The VA calculates your benefit amount based on the “rate of pursuit” formula. To determine your VA education benefits you can use the GI Bill® Comparison tool.

How are VA educational benefits calculated during Summer and Winter semesters at WSU?

During the summer, WSU offers split sessions (Summer sessions I and II) and one Winter session, which are referred to as “accelerated sessions” by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA will therefore accelerate the pay status in proportion to the length of a split session. Consequently, fulltime course loads will be different for students enrolled in the split sessions.

What happens if I drop a course during the semester?

If you drop a course you must notify the Certifying Official so he/she can then inform the VA of a change in training time. This must be done even if you have already notified the VA on the WAVE system or over the phone. A change in training time will affect your rate of payment, and failure to notify the Certifying Official in a timely manner could result in an overpayment.

What happens if I am activated during the semester?

If you are activated during a semester, you have a number of options open to you depending upon the length of the deployment, but the first thing you should do is contact the Veteran & Military Services Coordinator, who can assist you. The school has a policy regarding activations during the term and will assist you in anyway it can.

You should discuss this situation with your advisor and instructors to help you decide upon a course of action. The options available to you would range from special arrangements for make-up work, to an incomplete grade, to withdrawal from a course or semester.

Do I have any responsibilities as a student to notify the college of any changes in my veteran or class attendance status?

As a veteran using education benefits, you are responsible to notify the Certifying Official immediately of any action affecting your enrollment status – drop, add, or a change of certificate program goal.  Failure to do so may result in an overpayment which you will be responsible for paying back to the VA.

I am eligible for a federal Pell Grant. How does this affect my VA benefits?

Pell Grants are not affected by GI Bill® benefits, including the Post 9/11 GI Bill®. If you are a Pell Grant recipient, the GI Bill® benefits you receive will not count against your aid eligibility. In general, students will be able to keep their Pell grants even if they are receiving GI Bill® benefits. It is always important to check with the Financial Aid Office in the Horace Mann Building with any questions regarding any financial aid situation.

Are there any services available to veterans with disabilities?

Yes, Westfield State University and the Department of Veteran Affairs both provide services for veterans with disabilities.  Please consult Westfield State’s Office of Disability Services, the VA website or Veteran & Military Services for additional information.

I receive Chapter 30 or Chapter 1606 educational benefits and have to verify my enrollment each month. How do I do that?

Anyone receiving Chapter 30 benefits (MGIB- Active Duty) or Chapter 1606 benefits (MGIB- Selected Reserves) must verify their enrollment each month to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in order to receive payment for that month. Your enrollment can be verified on the last calendar day of the month by using the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) system or by calling the toll free, Interactive Voice Response phone line, at 1-877-823-2378.

I receive a National Guard Tuition and Fee Waiver, what do I need to do?

You will need to email your National Guard Tuition & Fee waiver to the certifying official, these are due before, at the time of registering for classes, or within 5-days of registering for classes, if you register for classes online.  There are a few exceptions, contact the Certifying Official if you have any questions.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.