If you are a veteran of the US armed forces, or the dependent child of a veteran, you may be eligible for US Veterans Affairs (GI Bill) benefits while you are attending James Cook University. To determine if you are eligible and to apply please follow the steps below.
The first step is to ensure your intended program of study is “VA approved”. Each program is approved on a case-by-case basis as a veteran applies. Once approved, a program will remain on the approval list unless changes to the program make it ineligible. A list of already approved programs can be found on the VA WEAMS website (click on ‘search by country’ on the right hand side of the page).
It is important to note that not all programs are VA eligible. There are two regulations in particular that restrict the program eligibility at foreign schools:
1/ The Code of Federal Regulations (S21.4260) stipulates that 'the course leads to a standard college degree or its equivalent'.
This equates to any undergraduate program which is not a degree, and therefore makes JCU programs such as the Diploma of Higher Education ineligible. Most Bachelor and graduate programs will qualify for approval, with the exception of those that fall into the category 2 below.
2/ The Code of Federal Regulations (S21.4253 & S21.4267) also stipulates that to approve a distance learning course at a school outside of the United States, the program must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. A nationally recognized accrediting agency will appear on the list published by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
At JCU, 'distance learning' equates to both external programs AND external subjects undertaken within an internal program. Some JCU internal programs incorporate external (online) subjects into the delivery method which unfortunately makes the entire program ineligible. This includes programs such as the Bachelor of Nursing Science and Master of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, for example.
You must apply directly to the VA for benefits. Please refer to the VA website information for foreign school enrolments.
When applying, the preferred option is to apply online through the Veteran Online Application website, commonly referred to as VONAPP or you can download a paper application form from the VA website.
Once you have applied to the VA, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA. You should send a copy of this document to the JCU International Compliance Officer (Sponsored Students). This document will confirm which benefit chapter applies, the length of time for which you can receive benefits, and the percentage of benefits available.
If you have not already, lodge an application to study at JCU in your chosen program. If successful you will receive a Letter of Offer from the JCU admissions office detailing the program fees, duration etc.
To proceed further you will need to accept the offer formally. To do this, you need to complete all the required paperwork, send any original Transcripts or other documentation specified, and pay an upfront “commencement deposit”. You cannot use your benefits to cover the deposit, this will be required upfront regardless and the amount will be stipulated on your Letter of Offer. It is possible to apply to reduce the amount on the basis of your benefits however the amount payable upfront will not be reduced to zero.
Benefit amounts and the timing and method of release will depend on the benefit chapter. For example, Chapter 33 (Post 9/11) tuition benefits will not be released to JCU until you have arrived and enrolled in classes and JCU has verified your enrolment to the VA. Benefits will continue with enrolment verification required on a semester basis. Living allowances will be paid directly to you based on the information you provide to the VA in your application.
If you have paid money to JCU to secure your admission and the VA tuition payment exceeds the balance required by JCU, you can seek a refund.
Please be aware that the VA can only release tuition benefits to JCU by cheque. Cheques are usually not received for at least 3-4 weeks after semester begins, arrive in US dollars and must be banked by JCU to exchange for Australian dollars. This means that the funds may not be available to JCU, and therefore any subsequent refund of credit balance, for at least 6 weeks after classes start each semester.
It is highly recommended that students register for the VA e-benefits system to monitor payments and alert JCU when tuition cheques are released.
If you have specific questions on any of the chapters or eligibility requirements, please contact:
Buffalo VA Regional Office (Foreign Schools)
PO Box 4616 Buffalo NY 14240 – 4616 USA Tel: 716 857 3196 or 716 857 3197 Or go to the VA website
If you would like to contact our office for further information, to discuss your loan program in detail, or for assistance with applications and forms, please feel free to contact:
International Compliance Officer (Sponsored Students)