GI Bill Accelerated Payments Explained

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Accelerated Payments are the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill provision that provides a lump sum payment of 60% of tuition and fees for certain high cost, high tech programs. If you do not have sufficient entitlement to cover 60% of tuition and fees, VA will pay you based on your actual remaining entitlement.

The program IS NOT available under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

VA will make accelerated payments for one term, quarter, or semester at a time. However, if the program is not offered on a term, quarter or semester basis, the accelerated payment is paid for the entire program. To qualify, you must be enrolled in a high tech program and you must certify that you intend to seek employment in a high tech industry as defined by VA. Accelerated payment is paid instead of Montgomery GI Bill benefits that you would otherwise receive.

The following Frequently Asked Questions will help you get a better understanding of the program and how it may apply to you:

Who qualifies for accelerated payments?

Only individuals eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty and Reserve) qualify for accelerated payments. 

Note: Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) are not eligible for Accelerated Payments.

How high do the tuition and fees have to be?

To receive accelerated payment, the tuition and fees must be more than double the Montgomery GI Bill benefits that you would otherwise receive for that term. For example, if your full-time rate is $732 and you are enrolled in a 4-month semester, your tuition and fees must be over $5,856 (4 months x $732=$2,928; $5,856=2 x $2,928) before you could receive an accelerated payment.

If you receive $900 monthly benefits, your tuition and fees must be over $7,200 (4 months x $900=$3,600; $7,200= 2 x $3,600). If you receive $1,050 monthly benefits, your tuition and fees must be over $8,400 (4 months x $1,050 = $4,200; 2 x $4,200 = $8,400).

What programs qualify for accelerated payment?

For Active Duty GI Bill recipients, both degree and non-degree programs qualify. You must be enrolled in a program in one of the following categories:

- Life science or physical science (but not social science); - Engineering (all fields); - Mathematics; - Engineering and science technology; - Computer specialties; and - Engineering, science, and computer management

For Reserve GI Bill recipients, only non-degree programs that last under 2 years qualify for accelerated payment.

What industries qualify for accelerated payments?

You must intend to seek employment in one of the following industries:

- Biotechnology, - Life Science Technologies, - Opto-electronics, - Computers and telecommunications, - Electronics, - Computer-integrated manufacturing, - Material Design, - Aerospace, - Weapons, - Nuclear technology

How do you apply for accelerated payments?

Ask your school to include your request for accelerated payment to VA when it sends your enrollment information to VA for processing. Your request must include your certification that you plan to seek employment in a high technology industry.

How is your education entitlement charged?

VA will divide your accelerated payment by the amount of your full-time monthly rate (including kickers and additional contributions) and VA will reduce your entitlement by the resulting number of months and days.

Example: Jill received an accelerated payment of $3,600. Her full-time rate is $900. VA will charge her entitlement as follows: $3,600/$900 = 4 months.

When can accelerated payments be made?

Accelerated payments may only be made for terms or other enrollment periods that begin on or after October 1, 2002.

Can school related expenses (such as books, supplies, and living expenses) be counted as tuition and fees for accelerated payments?

No. Only the school's tuition and fees can be considered for accelerated payment.

Can you receive accelerated payments for short, non-degree course?

Yes, as long as they are approved for VA benefits. Short, expensive, IT courses offered by businesses typically are not approved for VA benefits.

Can you receive accelerated payments for non-technical courses (such as English, history, etc.) when you are taking those courses as part of a high technology program?

Yes. However, your degree or certificate must require the completion of these other non-technical courses. For reservists these courses do not qualify.

Is it possible to receive an accelerated payment check before a school term begins?

No. VA needs to verify that you have enrolled before sending out the large payment. VA will pay you as soon after the start of the term as possible. You will receive your payment faster if you receive direct deposit.

Do you have to verify your enrollment each month if you receive an accelerated payment?

No. After you complete your enrollment, VA will ask you to verify that you received the accelerated payment and VA will also ask you to tell us how you used the accelerated payment (such as toward tuition, fees and books and supplies). The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking the latter question for statistical purposes only because the law requires us to collect this information. Your answer will have no bearing on your entitlement to the accelerated payment. You must respond to these questions within 60 days from the end of your enrollment period or VA will create an overpayment equal to the accelerated payment. As with any course, you must notify us of any change in your enrollment. Your school will be reporting any changes as well.

Is there any financial risk with accelerated payment?

Yes. If you receive a non-punitive grade (a grade that does not count toward graduation requirements such as a "W" for Withdrawal), you may have to repay all or part of your accelerated payment depending on the reasons you received that grade. You may have to repay a large amount of money.

Do you have to pay back the accelerated payments if you fail to find employment in a high technology industry?

No. The fact that you intended to find employment in a high technology industry is sufficient to let you keep your accelerated payments.

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