Receiving federal benefits

Guidance on how to manage your federal education benefits and ensure you receive payments in a timely manner.

Read below for information on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) course restrictions, entitlement charges, payment methods, and VA debt.

Confirm your benefits

University Veteran Services will not certify you without confirmation you would like to use your benefits. All students using federal and state benefits will complete this process each semester. It’s important to confirm as early as possible – waiting to do this can delay GI Bill® payments or financial aid awards.

How to confirm benefits in MyUW Student Center

Veterans Administration policy on certification

There are strict rules on what we can certify for students using Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606), or Dependents Education Assistance (Chapter 35).

It’s important to be aware of these restrictions to avoid certification delays or receiving a reduced amount of your benefit. If we come across courses that don’t meet requirements of your program(s), we’ll notify you via email. It may be as simple as seeking justification from your advisor to certify the course.

University Veterans Services can answer specific questions and help you figure out ways to receive your full benefit. Feel free to contact us.

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Undeclared undergraduate students

We can only certify freshmen and sophomores who are undeclared and can only be certified for general education courses (note the foreign language requirement is not under “general education”). Because of these restrictions, we recommend that you declare your major as soon as you meet requirements.

Students can use their Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) to verify courses meet general education requirements. A DARS report can be reviewed in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

Declared undergraduate, Graduate, Professional students

We can certify you for all courses that meet degree requirements, including general education and electives. A course is fine as long as it meets requirements of any major, certificate, or degree.

Per VA policy, only courses that satisfy requirements outlined by the curriculum guide or graduation evaluation form can be certified for VA purposes. If a student takes a course that does not fulfill a program requirement, it cannot be certified for VA purposes. Excessive free electives, for example, cannot be certified.

Non-matriculated (i.e., university special or non-degree seeking) students

We can only certify you for two terms as a non-degree seeking student if you are pending admission to UW-Madison. (example: taking prerequisites for a graduate program after you have already completed an undergraduate degree).

Per policy, VA educational benefits cannot be paid to non-matriculated college or university students unless they are pending admission to your school. In that case they can be certified for two quarters or semesters. The student can be certified beyond this two-term limit only if the student is admitted to your school as a degree- seeking student, irrespective of the number of credits taken.

Repeated courses

If you fail a class, we can certify it again. Classes that are successfully completed may not be certified again if repeated unless a higher grade is required.

Example 1: If a Nursing program requires a “B” or better in Biology, then that class may be repeated if a “B” or better was not earned.

Example 2: If a course is required for graduation, a student may repeat the course and be certified for it until it is successfully completed.

Example 3: If a student chooses to repeat a course that was successfully completed, just to improve their GPA, that course cannot be certified to VA.

Study Abroad

Due to complex requirements, we recommend all students who are intending to study abroad to contact our office to determine if using benefits is a possibility.

How entitlement is charged

Standard Term

You only receive the stipend during the months you are taking classes, and the payment will be prorated for partial months (most commonly May, December, and January). Typically, a full month of classes would charge one month of your entitlement.

If you’re taking classes part-time, your entitlement will also be charged at a part-time rate. The VA uses the number of credits you’re enrolled in that term to calculate a rate of pursuit. This is used to determine how much of the monthly housing allowance you receive and the amount of your entitlement charged.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Users: You must be enrolled more than 50% to receive the housing stipend.

Non-Standard Term (i.e. Summer)

If you’re taking summer classes or classes shorter than 16 weeks, you can still receive a housing stipend.

The VA will calculate whether you’re a full-time student, not us. They use this equation for a non-standard semester: Credit × 18 ÷ weeks = credit hour equivalents. When enrollment periods overlap, credit hour equivalents for the period of overlap are combined.

Example: 4 semester credits earned in 4 weeks is the equivalent of 18 credits earned during a standard semester (4 × 18 ÷ 4 = 18) and will pay full-time for 4 weeks.

Receiving payments

Direct deposit

You’ll receive payment into your bank account 7 to 10 business days after you verify your school enrollment. This is also known as Electronic Funds Transfer or EFT. This is the fastest way to receive your payment.

Any changes to your bank account information will need to be updated directly with the VA.

GI Bill Comparison Tool®

Compare current benefits rates for different federal benefits.

GI Bill Comparison Tool®

Payment by check

If you asked for a waiver to receive your payments by check, you should receive your first check by mail about 14 days after you verify your school enrollment.

To check on the status: call 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551) to receive an automated update or speak to a claims specialist.

Manage your VA debt

Check the status of debt related to VA education benefits, make payments, or request help.

How to manage your VA debt


University Veteran Services
school certifying officials

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Email us at:

Location pin for University Veterans ServicesUniversity Veterans Services
333 East Campus Mall
10th floor, Suite 10320
Madison, WI 53715

Monday - Friday
9:00am - 4:00pm


Drop-ins are always welcome, but appointments are encouraged.

Please visit our About Us page to make an appointment with a member of our staff.