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Certifying Official Newsletter #106 

June 1, 2016 

 School Debt


Reference:  Pages 93-100, School Certifying Official Handbook, Revision 5.0 (5th Edition), September 18, 2015 and Tab 23, SCO Workshop CD, April 2016.

If a school receives a debt letter from the VA Debt Management Center, St. Paul, MN, it will contain the exact amount the school owes back to VA and a tear off stub to be returned to VA with the payment.
If the school receives a letter from the Regional Processing Office (RPO) Buffalo, that letter is for information purposes only.  See page 94-96, SCO Handbook.
If the school agrees with the debt and the amount of the debt, payment should be made to VA DMC, with the tear off stub.  The payment should be made to the DMC, not the RPO.  See page 97, SCO Handbook.
If the school disputes the debt in any way (the amount is wrong or the debt is not school debt) refer to pages 93-94, SCO Handbook.  If the school disputes the debt, an email should be sent to the Debt Management Center (DMC) at as soon as possible.  Documents pertaining to the dispute should be scanned and attached to the e-mail to the DMC so those documents can be used to adjudicate the dispute.  It is imperative that the school certifying official and the people in the financial office of the school are in direct communication concerning any school debt and that the school refer directly to page 93 of the School Certifying Official Handbook.  It is also imperative that the school e-mail DMC as soon as possible to avoid having the debt referred to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), page 94, SCO Handbook.

Use of Reporting Fee 

Section 204, Public Law 111-377 states:  “Any reporting fee paid an educational institution or joint apprenticeship training committee after the date of the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2011 shall be utilized by such institution or committee solely for the making of certifications required under this chapter (33) or chapter 31, 34, or 35 of this title of for otherwise supporting programs for veterans.”  “The amendments made by this section shall take effect on October 1, 2011.”

As of this date, VA has not published any further defining information concerning the use of reporting fees other than what is contained in the Public Law 111-377 stated above.  Institutions or committees who have questions about the use of reporting fees should direct those questions to their respective Education Liaison Representative (ELR).

VA-ONCE Password Update 

To change your password in VA-ONCE, refer to pages 8-11, VA-ONCE Quick Reference User Guide, Version 8, March 2015.  The User Guide can be accesses at
Passwords in VA-ONCE must be changed every 90 days.  If you do not log in to VA-ONCE, your account will be deleted after 120 days of inactivity.  If this is the case, you must e-mail or call your ELR to have your account reactivated and to receive a new temporary password.

Electronic Fund Transfer of VA Funds 

Reference School Direct Deposit Update Advisory, 07-17-2012, Tab 15, SCO Workshop CD, April 2016.
Tuition payments and Yellow Ribbon payments to schools are normally made by Electronic Fund Transfer to the banking institution designated by the school.  A letter to designate the banking institution must be sent to the Education Liaison Representative (ELR).  The form for the letter is on the SCO Workshop CD, April 2016.

Vet Rep Listing 

Reference page 90, SCO Handbook.
VA will mail the SCO a report known as the Vet Rep Listing at indicated on page 90 of the SCO Handbook.  If you are not receiving this listing, e-mail or call you Education Liaison Representative (ELR) immediately and ask that the listing be sent to you on a regular basis.

Priority Scheduling for Veterans at

Public Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

Reference Tab 21, Veterans Preference In Scheduling (Public Schools), SCO Workshop CD, April 2106.
The provisions of Act 46 are provided below:
Act 46 of 2014 (Act of May 14, 2014, P.L. 667, No. 46) requires public institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania to provide veteran students, as defined, with preference in course scheduling.
Specifically, the Act requires the following of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the institutions:
  1. Within 90 days of Act 46 being enacted, PDE, in consultation with the public institutions, shall develop guidelines under which public 
           institutions of higher education shall provide preference in course scheduling to veteran students.  
  2. Within 180 days of Act 46 being enacted, a public institution of higher education shall provide veteran students with preference in course
           scheduling pursuant to the guidelines developed by PDE.
Additional information, including an information sheet, can be found in Tab 21 of the SCO Workshop CD.

Student SSN 

REMINDER:  Never include a student’s full social security account number (SSN) in e-mails to VA to include to Education Liaison Representatives (ELR).  Use only the first initial of the last name and the last four digits of the student’s SSN.  VA will be able to identify the student with this information.  Never include the student’s full SSN or any other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in emails.

2016-2017 Academic Year Caps

Effective for terms beginning on or after August 1, 2016, the following annual Academic Year Caps will be applied:
  • Private Institution of Higher Learning (IHL):            $21,970.46 
  • Non-College Degree Program at a Non-IHL:          $21,970.46 
  • Flight Courses:                                                        $12,554.54 
  • Correspondence Courses:                                      $10,671.35 
Entitlement charged for Licensing and Certification Tests and National Exams:
            1 Month up to $1,832.96
National Average of Basic Allowance for Housing is $1611.00.  Distance Learning Monthly Housing Allowance will be $805.50.  Note:  The Department of Defense BAH rates show $33.00 less than the approved VA rate.  VA students will be paid at the higher rate.  (Last year the amount was $16.00.)  Remember, the Monthly Housing Allowance is based on the DoD BAH for the zip code of the school where the enrollment certification is completed.  For the 2016-2017 Academic Year, the Monthly Housing Allowance will be paid at $33.00 more than the DoD BAH, prorated by Rate of Pursuit.
If you have questions concerning the Academic Year Caps or the Monthly Housing Allowance, contact your Education Liaison Representative (ELR).