Veterans with Disabilities & Study at Foreign Institutions
The Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 - Chapter 33 provides educational tuition and fees that can be used for direct enrollment at qualifying foreign post secondary institutions or for study abroad programs if it is part of the U.S. institution's degree requirements.
- General Instructions
- Where Your Claim Will Be Processed
- Approval Information
- Restrictions on Foreign Training
- Approval Procedures
- Where to Go for Help
Individuals on active duty are eligible for the lesser of:
- Tuition and fees charged; or
- The amount of charges that exceed the amount paid by the military’s federal tuition assistance
Individuals not on active duty are eligible for the applicable percentage (based on aggregate active duty service) of the lesser of:
- Tuition and fees charged; or
- Highest amount of tuition and fees charged for in-State undergraduate training at a public institution of higher learning in the state the student is enrolled
Fees are defined as mandatory charges (other than tuition, room, and board) that are applied by the institution of higher learning for pursuit of an approved program of education and include, but are not limited to:
- Health premiums
- Freshman fees
- Graduation fees
- Lab fees
Does not include study abroad course(s) unless the course(s) is a mandatory requirement for completion of the approved program of education.
(Source: Dept. of Veterans Affairs, U.S.A. PowerPoint (June 2009), http://www.gibill.va.gov/documents/factsheets/post_911_study_abroad_fact_sheet.pdf)
The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued an important clarification of their policies that will help veterans and campus administrators to better understand how the GI Bill benefits can be used to help cover the cost of certain study abroad activities. GI Bill recipients who plan to study abroad and wish to continue receiving their benefits should be aware of the following conditions:
- Students must be enrolled in courses that will apply to their program.
- The programs at the “host” school in the foreign country must be
- VA cannot pay any fees specific to studying abroad unless the student is
required to study abroad as part of their program.
Study abroad programs are administered by the home institution, by directly enrolling in the host institution, or by going through another U.S. institution's or third party organization's study abroad program. The VA makes distinctions between what would be covered based on these different types of administered study abroad programs, such as:
- VA could pay the home school’s tuition, up to the in-state maximum allowed. (Room and board charges cannot be included in tuition costs)
- VA could provide a monthly housing allowance to the student, if the student is enrolled more than ½-time that the student uses to help pay room and board costs
- VA could provide books and supplies stipend
- VA could not pay for any fees the home school charges for study abroad fees
- VA cannot pay airfare.
For full information read the VA Tuition and Fees, Housing, Books and Supplies under Post-9/11 GI Bill Study Abroad Programs.
This document provides general information about the approval of programs of education at foreign schools. It also provides specific information for veterans, service persons, reservists, and eligible dependents who are planning to pursue training at a foreign school.
1.) To be eligible for training in a foreign school, you must meet the same basic eligibility requirements as for training in the United States. In addition, the training at the foreign school must be at an institution of higher learning leading to a standard college degree, or the equivalent, and the program of education at the foreign institution must have been approved by VA.
You should submit the appropriate application form listed below to VA. All of these forms can be downloaded from this website by clicking on the “Education Forms” link in the menu area at the left of this page. These forms can also be submitted electronically by clicking on the Electronic Application Form link in the menu are on the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website on the "Foreign Program Approval" webpage.
NOTE: Applying electronically will establish your date of claim on the following business day but may necessitate you mail related paperwork to VA, including your signature, before you can receive benefits.
If you know the foreign educational institution and program of education you intend to pursue, please indicate this on your application.
- Submit VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits, if you are a veteran, serviceperson, or reservist and are applying for the first time.
- Submit VA Form 22-1995, Request for Change of Program or Place of Training, if you are a veteran, serviceperson, or reservist and you are requesting a change of program or place of training.
- Submit VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors’ and Dependents' Educational Assistance, if you are a spouse or a child and are applying for the first time.
- Submit VA Form 22-5495, Request for Change of Program or Place of Training - Survivors’ and Dependents Educational Assistance, if you are a spouse or a child and you are requesting a change of program or place of training.
c.) Disabled Veterans
- Submit VA Form 28-1900, Disabled Veterans Applications Application for Vocational Rehabilitation, if you have a service-connected disability which VA has rated at least 20 percent disabling, or 10 percent disabling if you have a serious employment handicap.
2.) If you are determined to be eligible for VA benefits, you will be issued a Certificate of Eligibility showing the number of months of entitlement you have, as well as the date your eligibility expires. If possible, you should have this document in your possession before enrolling at a foreign school.
3.) You should submit your application early enough to have the program of education approved before leaving the United States. (See General Instruction below.)
4.) You may receive VA benefits under the following programs of educational assistance:
a.) The Post-9/11 GI Bill
b.) Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (Chapter 30)
c.) Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606)
d.) Post-Vietnam Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program – VEAP (Chapter 32)
e.) Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35)
f.) Educational Assistance Pilot Program (Section 901)
g.) Omnibus Diplomatic Security & Antiterrorism Act
1.) Before enrolling at a foreign school:
a.) Determine if your program of education is approved for VA benefits. The educational institution you plan to attend should be able to advise you if the program you are interested in pursuing at their school has already been approved for VA benefits. If you are unable to obtain this information from your school, contact us using our Questions & Answers link in the menu area of the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website on the "Foreign Program Approval" webpage. Provide the name of the foreign school, the complete address, and the name of the program you intend to pursue. The VA will advise you whether the program has already been approved for VA benefits.
b.) Make arrangements with the school for acceptance, enrollment, payment of tuition and fees, and for any other requirements such as living accommodations.
c.) Make arrangements for travel including your passport, visa, and vaccinations, as required. You should also check with your intended school to ascertain the school’s or host country’s requirements for health insurance. This is very important since, in some instances, you may not be able to start classes until health insurance arrangements have been made.
d.) Maintain a sufficient financial reserve to care for all of your needs until VA educational assistance allowance payments begin. Please bear in mind that any payment of VA benefits will be made directly to you, not the school. VA benefit rates are set by Congress based on your training time and attendance; they will not necessarily cover the total cost of your school’s tuition and fees. You are solely responsible for payment of all charges assessed by your school.
If your program of education has already been approved, you will normally receive your first check only after you have completed your first month of school. Chapter 30 or Chapter 1606 students have the option to have benefit payments deposited into a United States checking or savings account. IMPORTANT: If you are receiving benefits under a program other than Chapter 30 or Chapter 1606, or if you do not arrange for payments to be deposited into a U. S. account, payments will be mailed to the American Embassy in the country of your residence and will be forwarded to you by the Embassy. This may delay receipt of your checks by up to 30 days. Please plan accordingly.
e.) Some countries have their own version of the Privacy Act. Students attending school in these countries should furnish written permission to school officials allowing them to release information as necessary to VA. Failure to do so may affect receipt of VA benefits.
2.) After enrolling at a foreign school:
a.) Submit your application to VA at least 90 days in advance of your departure to ensure ample time for processing. Prompt processing of your application for foreign training will be greatly facilitated if you send your application to the appropriate VA office.
b.) All students (with the exception of those applying for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits under Chapter 31) should mail the completed application, or signature form if applying online, to the following address:
Foreign School Approval Group (22-ESU)
VA Regional Office
130 S. Elmwood Avenue Suite 601
Buffalo, NY 14202
c.) Chapter 31 students should submit their application to their nearest Regional Office. Once accepted into the program, Chapter 31 students will work with their VA counselor to arrive at a suitable foreign training program.
d.) If the school is located in the Philippines, send the completed application to:
U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Manila Regional Office
1131 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, The Philippines
e.) When you receive the Certificate of Eligibility, take it with you and submit it to the school’s certifying official as verification that you are eligible to receive VA benefits. Your school’s certifying official will then submit your enrollment information on VA Form 22-1999. Please note you will not receive payments until your enrollment information has been received and processed by VA.
If you are training in Puerto Rico or the U. S. Virgin Islands, your claim will be handled by the Atlanta Regional Processing Office (in Decatur, Georgia).
If you are training in the Republic of the Philippines, American Samoa, Guam, Midway, Wake Island, any of the islands in the Federated States of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau, your claim will be handled by the Muskogee Regional Processing Office.
If you are training in any other foreign country or area, your claim will be handled by the Buffalo Regional Processing Office.
Normally, foreign schools certify their students for the complete academic year. If you plan to attend a foreign school for more than one year, within 120 days of your reenrollment you should notify the school of your intention to reenroll and have the appropriate certifying official submit an enrollment certification for your reenrollment. If your school does not have a supply of the enrollment certifications, the school should request a supply of forms from the Buffalo Regional Office and they will be mailed directly to the school. You should keep the school advised of your plans for continuing enrollment in order to avoid any delay in receiving your benefits.
Information concerning the approval status of a program at a foreign school may be obtained by contacting VA using our Questions & Answers link on the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website on the "Foreign Program Approval" webpage. Written requests for information should be submitted to:
Foreign School Approval Group (22-ESU)
VA Regional Office
130 S. Elmwood Avenue Suite 601
Buffalo, NY 14202
When submitting an inquiry or application, you should clearly indicate your school and your planned program of education as precisely as possible. VA will then advise you of the program’s approval status and thus enable you to contact your school without undue delay to initiate any approval procedures that may be necessary.
The law provides that VA beneficiaries may not pursue programs of education at schools outside of the United States unless they are pursuing approved programs leading to a standard college degree, or the equivalent, at approved institutions of higher learning. The only exception is for persons eligible for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35) who may receive VA benefits while pursuing approved post secondary non-college degree programs at training establishments in the Philippines.
The term “institution of higher learning” means a college or university offering programs of instruction leading to an associate degree or higher, or its equivalent. The programs must be recognized as being comparable to a degree granted by accredited U. S. colleges and universities. VA will accept degrees granted by public colleges and universities in foreign countries as being comparable to degrees granted by accredited U. S. colleges and universities. Degrees, or their equivalent, granted by private colleges and universities in foreign countries must be comparable to degrees granted by public colleges and universities in the same country. Degree or equivalent programs must have the same entrance requirements as the degree programs offered by public colleges and universities in the same country.
Programs offered by schools in the Philippines are subject to approval by the Director of the Manila Regional Office. Programs offered by all other foreign schools are subject to approval by the Director of the Buffalo Regional Office. If a veteran, serviceperson, reservist, or eligible dependent wishes to enroll in a program of education that has not already been approved, he or she should ask the school to request approval of the program he or she intends to pursue. VA can take no action until a request for approval is received from a school official
Instructions on how school officials may apply for approval of programs of education can be found on the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website on the "Foreign Program Approval" webpage.
For applications and further information, the following offices or representatives will be glad to assist you:
- Any VA Regional Office;
- Local representatives of veterans’ organizations and the American Red Cross;
- Foreign Service Posts;
- Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs (Canadian schools only).
Within all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, call VA’s customer service toll-free for information about education benefits: 1-888-GI BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). For toll-free TDD service, call 1-800-829-4833. For information about all other VA benefits, call toll-free 1-800-827-1000.
You may send the VA an email inquiry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by using our Questions & Answers link on the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website on the "Foreign Program Approval" webpage. You will generally receive a response within 3 to 5 business days.
During business hours, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, Students and School Certifying Officials calling from outside the United States may call the Buffalo Regional Office at 716-857-3196 or 716-857-3197. Once connected, the caller can immediately enter "option 1" to be placed in a special priority queue. This is not a toll-free number but the caller will be routed to the next available Customer Service Representative for priority service.
To help the VA provide courteous responses and accurate information, VA supervisors occasionally monitor phone calls. No record is kept of the caller’s name, address, file number, or telephone number.