Virginia Military Survivors and Dependent Education Program
General Description and Purpose
The purpose of the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependent Education Program (VMSDEP) is to provide eligible students enrolled in a Virginia public college or university with certain education benefits in acknowledgement of the military service and sacrifice of their military parent or spouse.
The eligible student must be:
- A spouse of a qualifying military service member or
- A child, between the ages of 16 and 29, inclusive, of a qualifying military service member.
- Accepted by and enrolled in a Virginia public college or university.
The qualifying military service member is one who meets at least one criterion in each of the following four areas.
- Served on active duty in at least one of the following:
- US Armed Forces;
- US Armed Forces Reserve;
- Virginia National Guard; or
- Virginia National Guard Reserve.
- during at least of the following:
- military operations against terrorism;
- a peacekeeping mission;
- or as a result of a terrorist act; or
- any armed conflict subsequent to December 6, 1941.
- and while serving active duty: (must meet at least one of the following)
- was killed;
- was missing in action;
- was prisoner of war; or
- is a veteran who, due to such service, has been rated as permanently disabled or at least 90 percent disabled.
- Have one of the following qualifying statuses:
- Virginia domicile at time of entering service or called up from reserves;
- Virginia domicile for at least five years immediately prior to student applying for admission to the institution;
- if deceased, was Virginia domicile on, and for at least five years prior to, his death;
- in the case of a qualifying child, is deceased and the surviving parent had been, at some point previous to marrying the deceased military member, a Virginia domicile for at least five years or is and has been a Virginia domicile for at least five years prior to student’s application for admission; or
- in the case of a qualified spouse, is deceased and the surviving spouse had been, at some time previous to marrying the deceased military spouse, a Virginia domicile for at least five years or is and has been Virginia domicile for at least five years prior to his or her admission application.
Eligible students, as confirmed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), are guaranteed waiver of all tuition and mandatory fees at a Virginia public college or university regardless of degree program or enrollment level.
In addition, as funds are available, eligible students may receive a stipend to offset other educational expenses, such as room & board and books & supplies. The current maximum authorized award is $1,500; due to the number of projected eligible students, SCHEV has determined that funding is sufficient for an FY12 maximum award of $1,500* allocated to fall and spring terms as follows:
Students enrolled full-time $750 per term
Students enrolled at least half-time but less than full-time $500 per term
Students enrolled less than half-time $250 per term
Enrollment level as of census date (end of add/drop period):
Undergraduate full-time = 12 credit hours or more per term
Undergraduate at least half time = 6-11 credit hours per term
Undergraduate less than half-time = 1-5 credit hours per term
Graduate full-time = 9 credit hours or more per term
Graduate at least half time = 5-8 credit hours per term
Graduate less than half-time = 1-4 credit hours per term
Summer awards may be made if the program’s appropriation was not fully expended during the fall and spring semesters. If funding is available, students who did not use their full annual award during the fall and spring semesters may receive awards based on their summer enrollment level.
The stipend is not available for noncredit courses, which include courses taken for audit.
A student may receive the stipend through one institution only. If a student is enrolled concurrently at multiple participating institutions and there is a formal consortium agreement in place, the student may receive funding based on the combined enrollment. If there is no formal consortium agreement, funds will be based and disbursed on the higher level of enrollment. However, a student remains eligible for the waiver of tuition and fees even if enrolled at multiple institutions.
The maximum amount of the VMSDEP stipend, when combined with “other scholarships, grants, and waivers” (i.e. other gift aid), cannot exceed the student’s estimated cost of attendance. Other gift aid may include athletic or academic scholarships, the Dependent’s Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35 of Title 38, U.S. Code), etc.
Example: Institution Cost of Attendance (room, board, books, supplies, etc.) less “other scholarships, grants, and waivers” - regardless of source - equals VMSDEP stipend - up to the student’s annual stipend amount.
If a student withdraws from college, the stipend is adjusted by a percentage equivalent to the tuition refund policy in effect at the institution.
* NOTE: Award amounts may be reduced by SCHEV if the number of eligible students exceeds projections. For the 2011-12 school year, a total of $1.25 million was appropriated, meaning that up to 833 students can receive the full $1,500 stipend.
Benefits are limited to a total of four years combined for undergraduate and graduate programs. However, benefits do not have to be used in four (4) consecutive years, allowing for a break or breaks in a student’s education. The stipend is contingent upon available annual funding.
- The student submits to DVS their VMSDEP application and a Virginia public college or university acceptance letter. http://www.dvs.virginia.gov/veterans-benefits.shtml
- DVS reviews the application and determines eligibility.
- DVS provides verification letter to the student and the institution and then provides a roster to SCHEV.
- SCHEV verifies enrollment as of the end of the term’s drop/add date, determines student’s final award amount for the term, and disburses funds to the institution approximately four to six weeks into the term.
- The institution applies the funds to the student’s account.
- Funds are first applied to institutional direct charges, such as room and board. Disbursements made by the institution to the student, if applicable, are then subject to the institution’s student refund policy.
- If the student withdraws after the census date, the award amount will be prorated based on the institution’s tuition refund policy.
Appropriation Act Language
G.1. Out of this appropriation, $1,000,000 the first year and $1,250,000 the second year from the general fund is designated for the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents program, § 23-7.4:1, Code of Virginia, to provide up to a $1,500 annual stipend to offset the costs of room, board, books and supplies for qualified survivors and dependents of military service members.
2. The amount of the stipend is an estimate depending on the number of students eligible under § 23-7.4:1, Code of Virginia. Changes that increase or decrease the grant amount shall be determined by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
3. The Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, shall allocate these funds to public institutions of higher education on behalf of students qualifying under this provision.
4. Each institution of higher education shall report the number of recipients for this program to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia by April 1 of each year. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia shall report this information to the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by May 15 of each year.
5. The Department of Veterans Services shall consult with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia prior to the dissemination of any information related to the financial benefits provided under this program.
B. No child may receive the education benefits provided by § 23-7.4:1, Code of Virginia, and funded by this or similar state appropriations, for more than four years or its equivalent.