How does COVID-19 affect GI Bill?

Over the past two weeks, VA has worked with Congress to preserve GI Bill benefits for impacted students during this difficult time.  The Senate and House passed S.3503 and the bill will be headed to POTUS to sign, which will give the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. The new law allows for VA to continue to pay benefits regardless of the fact that the program has changed from resident training to online training. Also, students will continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments that they received for resident training until January 1, 2021, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training. VA is working to immediately implement the new changes to address current and future school terms to ensure studeents continue to receive their education benefits.


If you have questions about your specific circumstance, please contact the Education Call Center at: 1-888-442-4551 between 8 AM and 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.


For additional information as it relates to Veteran & Military-Affiliates, please visit here


Frequently Asked Questions: Certification Process

Where do I check my GI Bill Benefits?

You can check your Post 9/11 eligibility by visiting https://www.va.gov/education/gi-bill/post-9-11/ch-33-benefit. However, at this time, the GI Bill benefit statement isn't available online to family members and dependents. You'll need to request a new Certificate of Eligibility letter to check your GI Bill benefit status. To request a COE, please call the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 (888-GI-BILL-1)




What type of discharge is required to qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

Normally, an HONORABLE discharge is required to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, the following types of discharge may also qualify you for the Post-9/11 GI Bill:

  • Medical condition with preexisting service and is not service-connected
  • Hardship
  • Physical or mental condition not characterized as a disability and did not result from willful misconduct but did interfere with the performance of duty




Where do I get a copy of my DD214?

In order to obtain a copy of your DD214, you will need to establish an e-benefits account and follow this link to view the steps.




Why do I have a VET enrollment support hold on my account?

Each student using military benefits at HCC has this hold on their account. This hold prevents you from adding, dropping or swapping classes without first notifying our office of any changes. This hold remains on your account throughout the usage of benefits.




What is the VMASS Certification Request?

You MUST submit this request at the beginning of each semester at the time of registration and at any point during the semester in order to add, drop or swap classes. VMASS Certification Request HERE



How do I remove the VET hold from my PeopleSoft account?

In order for the hold to be removed, you will need to submit the VMASS Certification Request form. This hold will be temporally lifted to allow changes to be made. This hold is automatically reapplied every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:59 pm.




When will my classes be certified?

  • Your classes will not be certified until all required documents have been submitted.
  • Per the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, once all required documents have been received, institutions/colleges have 30 days from the class start date to have all certifications completed.



What is a Monthly Housing Allowance?

The MHA payments you receive for the Post-9/11 GI Bill are based on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for an E-5 with dependents. DoD adjusts the BAH rate every calendar year (January 1) based on changes to housing costs across the country. Your MHA is based on the zip code for your school and the campus where you attend the majority of your classes. MHA rate changes are effective August 1 (the beginning date of the academic year).




What academic standards are required to receive a full monthly housing allowance?

  •  Classes enrolled in must be part of your declared major degree plan.
  • At least 1 class must be on campus (face-to-face), rest can be online or hybrid.
  • Training time for monthly housing allowance


12 credit hours= full-time status

9-11 credit hours=3/4 status

6-8 credit hours=1/2 time status

4-5 credit hours=less than 1/2 time status

1-3 credit hours=1/4 time or less status

7 credit hours= full-time status (10 weeks class)

6 credit hours= full-time status (8 weeks class)

4 credit hours= full-time status (5 weeks class)



Where can I get more information about my Monthly Housing allowance?

You can find out more information about it by visiting the VA Benefits website



What is a Parent Institution Letter?

Primary/Parent Institution Letters (PIL) are letters that are sent from a primary school to a secondary school authorizing the secondary school to certify classes the student is taking. Selected courses taken at the secondary school must be part of the declared major degree plan of the primary school or they cannot be certified. The PIL MUST be obtained from the primary institution veteran’s office and sent directly to our district office of Veteran & Military-Affiliated Student Success.



Do I have to physically go to the VMASS office to turn in documents?

Students have the option to submit documents electronically through their Student Services checklist (To-Do List item), by emailing them to vmassonline@hccs.edu, or by faxing them to 713-718-8444. We recommend against submitting physical documents to minimize paper waste and safeguard Personal Identifying Information (PII).


How do I verify my enrollment?

If you're receiving the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty or MGIB - Selected Reserve GI Bill, use the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) or call our toll free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone line at 1-877-VA-ECERT (1-877-823-2378) to verify your attendance.



Who’s eligible for Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35) benefits and what can they be used for?

The Dependents’ Educational Assistance program provides education benefits for the spouse and dependent children of a veteran or service member who:

  • Is determined to be permanently and totally disabled from service-connected causes, or
  • Is on active duty and is likely to be discharged with a permanent and total disability, or
  • Died in service, or
  • Died of service-connected causes, or
  • Is currently missing in action or captured in the line of duty.




Can a veteran's child receive Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance (also known as DEA or Chapter 35) payments after age 26?

  • The ending date for DEA benefits for children is generally the 26th birthday. However, in some cases, you may be eligible to have your period of eligibility extended. Examples of some of these cases include:
  • The veteran did not receive a rating of “Permanently and Totally Disabled” until the eligible child was between 18 and 26 years of age.
  • The veteran died of DEA-qualifying cause while the eligible child was between ages 18 and 26.
  • DEA-eligible child serves on active duty and is released (other than dishonorably) between ages 18 and 26.
  • Veteran loses and then regains, his or her permanent disability rating while the eligible child is between ages 18 and 26.
  • VA determines that an eligible child had to suspend his or her program of education or training for reasons beyond the child's control.
  • Other situations not listed here may qualify a DEA beneficiary to receive benefits past the age of 26, and eligibility decisions frequently must be made on a case-by-case basis.




Frequently Asked Questions: Monthly Enrollment Verification

What is monthly enrollment verification?

Enrollment verification is a new requirement for Post-9/11 GI Bill® (Chapter 33) students to verify every month that you are still enrolled in the same courses or training that your school-certified to VA. It’s not about verifying that you are attending classes, but whether your certified enrollment has changed.


Who needs to verify their enrollment?

Eventually, all Post-9/11 GI Bill students will need to verify enrollment every month, but this requirement will be rolled out in phases through the 2021-2022 school year based on the type of facility you are attending. Right now, only students at non-college degree (NCD) facilities who receive Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and/or kicker payments are impacted, and only if their term starts on or after August 1, 2021. Students at Institution of Higher Learning (IHL) facilities who receive MHA and/or kicker payments will be impacted for terms starting on or after December 17, 2021. Later phases will include additional populations of Post-9/11 GI Bill students.


Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30) students, Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship students, and VET TEC students are already required to verify their monthly attendance. Nothing about those processes is changing.


When do students need to start verifying their enrollment?

This requirement will be rolled out in phases through the 2021-2022 school year based on the type of facility you are attending. Right now, Post-9/11 GI Bill students at NCD-only facilities are impacted if they are enrolled in classes or training that start on or after August 1, 2021. These students should opt into text message verification when their enrollment begins (more information on how to do that below), and will be required to verify enrollment starting August 31, 2021 (or at the end of the month that their enrollment begins).

Students at IHL facilities will begin the process for terms starting on or after December 17, 2021, if they are enrolled in classes or training after that point. More information will be shared closer to that deadline.


Why do students need to verify their enrollment?

Enrollment verification plays a critical role in safeguarding your GI Bill entitlement by preventing charges for classes or training you did not attend, as well as protecting the integrity of the GI Bill. Though this new requirement is an additional step, enrollment verification is easy to do and will help you better manage and access your earned benefits. It will also prevent or reduce some debts by catching overpayments earlier in the term. This requirement was part of the Isakson and Roe Act of 2020, which enhances and expands education benefits and programs for Veterans, transitioning Service members, and military families.


What happens if I don’t verify my enrollment?

If you fail to submit enrollment verification for two consecutive months, your MHA/kicker payments will be held until you verify your enrollment. For example, if your term starts on August 1, 2021, and you fail to verify your enrollment for August and September, your October 2021 payments will be placed on hold.


Will this new requirement delay my payments?

No. Verifying your enrollment in a timely fashion will help ensure there are no delays to your scheduled payments.


What’s the difference between an NCD facility and an IHL facility?

IHL facilities are 2-to-4-year schools that offer Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or PhD degree programs. All other facilities are NCD facilities, except those that offer on-the-job training or apprenticeships.


What if I’m a part-time student?

Post-9/11 GI Bill students who are attending at less than a 50% rate of pursuit are not eligible for MHA payments and so will not be affected until a later date unless you receive kicker payments.


What if I’m on active duty?

Post-9/11 GI Bill students who are on active duty are not eligible for MHA payments and so will not be affected until a later date.


How will I know if the enrollment information my school submitted is accurate?

You can find your enrollment information on your award letter from VA or ask your School Certifying Official.


What happens if I report a change to my enrollment?

If you indicate that your enrollment information has changed, VA will contact your school to receive your updated enrollment information. Please work with your School Certifying Official to ensure they have accurate information on your enrollment and can update VA of any changes. Quickly notifying VA of changes to your enrollment will help you avoid an overpayment, though it may not completely eliminate the possibility of debt.


Does anything change about how my school will certify my enrollment?

Yes. Your school is now required to certify your enrollment again after the drop-add period has closed to ensure VA has the most accurate enrollment information and help eliminate overpayments.


Frequently Asked Questions: Academic

Will HCC accept my military transcripts/post-secondary transcripts?

Houston Community College evaluates all transcripts, including military transcripts, at the time of admission. Keep in mind that completing the degree plan is the focus and most military transcripts pertain to technical credits that may not apply to your degree plan. If you feel that you should have received credit(s) for something on your military transcript that was not awarded in your degree plan at HCC, please feel free to contact your Academic Advisor.


Does the VA pay for repeated courses?

The VA will not pay to repeat any courses that are completed successfully. Letter grades of A, B, C, D are passing.  Exceptions: Some courses require a specific minimum grade, such as Engineering and Health Medical Science Programs.




Does the VA pay for remedial courses?

 VA will pay for remedial courses provided the courses have not previously been successfully completed. Also, if the student’s placement test results show the course is needed.




If I am failing a course how do I get tutoring through the school?

Houston Community College is committed to your success, so we offer free face-to-face and online tutoring to our students. Face-to-face tutoring takes place at our comprehensive Learning Centers, which can be found at our campuses. Faculty tutors, peer tutors, and lab aides are available to help with English, Math, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Accounting, Spanish, ESOL and much more. We can help you stay on track with your coursework, understand assignments, and improve your study skills. You do not need an appointment and there is no charge for use of these services. Visit Find-A-Tutor, for more information




I am being deployed in the middle of the semester. How do I follow through with this process?

 Send us a copy of your military orders by email Vmassonline@hccs.edu or by fax at 713-718-8444.



There is a probation/suspension hold on my account. What can I do?

 You must complete a SLIP session in order to release the hold. If you have any further questions, please contact our VA Counselor Ana Canek, LPC at canek@hccs.edu



I need to change my degree plan, what course of action should I take?

 You must meet with an academic advisor in order to change your degree plan. Also, you MUST submit a change of program/place of training directly to the VA.






Do I have to take the TSI test?

The TSI is waived for all veterans that have an Honorable discharge after August 1, 1990. For active duty and reserves, a letter from a commanding officer can waive TSI test. If you are a transfer student and have more than 12 college semester credit hours, you may be exempt from taking the TSI. For more information, contact your Academic Advisor. For further information please visit the HCC Texas Success Initiative Assessment



Frequently Asked Questions: Hazlewood

What does Hazlewood exactly pay for?

The tuition waiver will cover the cost of all tuition fees and charges, including fees for correspondence courses. The Hazlewood Act is a tuition exemption program that covers all courses EXCEPT continuing education (CEU). Funds are received directly by HCC business office.


What is a VA benefit letter and how do I receive one?

The VA benefit letter (Exhaust of Benefits Letter) is an official correspondence from the VA stating your education benefits status. The letter will usually state you have exhausted your benefits or you are no longer eligible to receive federal educational benefits.


How do I know if I am eligible for Hazlewood (Veteran or Dependent)?

For your convenience, the link provided is a direct response that addresses Hazlewood Eligibility for veterans and veteran dependents.

Additional information is also provided by the Texas Veterans Commission.



Veteran & Military-Affiliated Student Success

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