Veterans Affairs and Veteran’s Educational Benefits
Penn State Altoona values the contributions that veterans and active duty service members make to the classroom and to the University as a whole.
The Veterans Affairs Office is located in E130 Smith. Our primary function is to assist students in accessing their education benefits available through one of several veteran’s education benefits programs.
A summary of the various education benefits programs may be found on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site.
Students potentially qualify to receive education benefits if:
- they have completed their required period of enlistment, or
- they are an actively drilling reservist, or
- they are the qualifying son, daughter, or spouse of a veteran.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) makes the final determination regarding the eligibility of a student to receive education benefits. For more information or to apply for benefits, students should visit the Getting Started page of the Office of Veterans Affairs home page.
Once a student has applied for benefits, they will receive an Award Letter or Certificate of Eligibility from the VA. The receipt of the letter from the VA does not automatically begin the payment process for the student. In order for the student to receive benefits, he/she must submit a copy of the letter to the Veterans Affairs Office (E130 Smith). At that time, the student will have other forms to complete. While the student only needs to apply to the VA once, local campus forms must be completed every semester to receive benefits.
Other basic information:
- Once the VA approves a student to receive education benefits, the student needs to request to use their benefits each semester. Stop by E130 Smith to complete the forms, or follow the instructions and download the form.
- The VA makes the final determination regarding semester eligibility for benefits and is responsible for all monetary payouts.
- The VA can only pay for required courses as defined on the student’s Penn State Degree Audit. Degree Audits are sometimes called What-If Reports or Academic Requirements Report. Students may run an audit using LionPATH.
- Students who are enrolled in a non-matriculated status may only be certified for two enrollment periods in this status.
- The School Certifying Official is required to monitor changes to student enrollment during the semester. Students may owe money back to the VA if they change their class schedule after their credits for the semester have initially been reported to the VA. Any instance of a student making a change to their class schedule, even when total semester credits remain the same, creates a potential debt scenario. It is recommended that students consult their academic advisor and the school certifying official before making any changes to their class schedule.
- Regardless of whether or not a student is not eligible for Veterans Education Benefits, veterans and reservists may still be eligible for Priority Registration and a red, white and blue military honor cord for commencement. See the School Certifying Official in E130 Smith for more information.
- Qualified military veterans can receive KINES credits for basic and advanced training, even if they are not receiving education benefits through the VA.
- Penn State Altoona and the Veteran’s Administration are not authorized to advise students regarding the Educational Assistance Program (EAP). Students should contact the Education Services Center at their Unit. In Pennsylvania, the phone number for EAP is 717-861-8894.
- IMPORTANT: Guardsmen and Reservists may qualify for Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA or TA). Effective January 1, 2015, reservists may no longer use FTA benefits for the same semester as they will be using Montgomery GI Bill® Select Reserve Benefits/Chapter 1606. We recommend that students investigate which program will provide them with the greatest total payment for the semester. We also recommend that students begin to inquire several weeks before the beginning of the semester. In Pennsylvania, call the Education Services Center at Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA: 717-861-9329.
- IMPORTANT: Effective Summer 2015, all eligible veterans and dependents receiving Post 9/11 (Chapter 33), Dependents Education Assistance (Chapter 35) or Fry Scholarship benefits will be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of residency. Appropriate documentation will be required. Please submit it to the Veterans Office, E130 Smith. If you are a veteran and you are not using GI Bill® benefits, you may still be eligible for this tuition benefit. Please contact the office re: the appropriate documentation to be submitted in support of your claim.
- Students receiving VA benefits under any program may be eligible for the VA Work-Study Program. This should not be confused with the federal work study program, for which eligibility is determined by FAFSA results. One work-site on-campus in the Veterans Affairs Office and multiple worksites exist off-campus.
Please call the office to schedule an appointment if you have additional questions. Office hours are below.
Jean Lasinski, School Certifying Official
E130 Smith Building
Mon: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Tues: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Wed: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Thr: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Fri: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Other office hours by appointment only.