Veterans Benefits Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, D.C.  20420
M22-4, Part V

April 29, 2008



Part V, Chapter 30 Procedures, Veterans Benefits Administration Manual M22-4, Education Procedures, is changed as follows.

Chapter 10, Tuition Assistance Top-Up, is added. This chapter substantially reorganize the material in the previous circular.  Substantive changes are as follows.

Paragraph 10.02a and later paragraphs mention the Navy's Graduate Education (GEV) Program as being eligible for Top-up.   The policy advisory dated September 15, 2004 is rescinded.

Paragraph 10.02bclarifies that VA cannot pay Top-up if the amount of Tuition Assistance is zero.  The policy advisory dated January 16, 2003 is rescinded. 

Paragraph 10.02dclarifies that VA's course approval rules do not apply to Top-up.   The policy advisory dated May 27, 2003 is rescinded. 

Paragraph 10.08a clarifies the limits on Top-up payments.  A chapter 1606 kicker may not be included in the calculation of Top-up.   Paragraph 10.08a also clarifies how to handle a Top-up claim when the individual is not eligible for chapter 30 for the entire enrollment period.  The policy advisory dated March 10, 2004 is rescinded.

Paragraph 10.08b clarifies that additional contributions as well as chapter 32 and chapter 1606 kickers should be excluded from the regular chapter 30 entitlement calculation for Top-up payments.  Paragraph 10.08b includes the policy that extension of entitlement is not permitted for Top-up.   The policy advisories dated September 18, 2007 and November 29, 2005 are rescinded.  

Paragraph 10.09 discusses rules governing concurrent payment of Top-up, Tuition Assistance, and regular chapter 30.   The policy advisory dated May 22, 2003 is rescinded.

Paragraph 10.10 discusses tutorial assistance and Top-up payments.  The policy advisories dated June 28, 2005 and August 4, 2003 are rescinded.. 

Paragraph 10.14 includes a table that lists the Top-up forms used by each of the military branches.  The policy advisory dated April 27, 2006 is rescinded.

Paragraph 10.22b(1) Note clarifies that VA can pay for any fees paid by the service department.  This would include lab fees.  The policy advisory dated February 4, 2004 is rescinded.   

Paragraph 10.22b(4) Note revises the policy regarding the determination of full-time training for graduate courses.  The claims examiner should consult WEAMS or the ELR about this issue and not request information from the claimant or the school. 

Paragraph 10.26 clarifies how to determine training time if the military service indicates both clock hours and credit hours on the claim for Tuition Assistance.  The policy advisories dated August 9, 2002 and August 7, 2002 are rescinded. 

Paragraph 10.27 clarifies how the effective date rules apply to top-up. 

Paragraph 10.29 Note clarifies that RPOs should receive end product credit for adjustments to Top-up awards.  The policy advisory dated November 19, 2002 is rescinded.  

Paragraph 10.30 incorporates the policy regarding distance learning.  The Policy Advisory dated January 8, 2003 is rescinded.

Policy advisories dated November 5, 2002, and September 23, 2002, are also rescinded.

RESCISSIONS: Circular 22-01-01, Appendix D, change 1, dated February 19, 2003.

By Direction of the Under Secretary for Benefits

Keith M. Wilson
Director, Education Service

Distribution:  Printed Distribution: NONE
           (Electronic Distribution only)

Part V: Chapter 10 - Tuition Assistance Top-up

10.01 Overview
10.02 Program Highlights
10.03 Reserved

10.04 Beginning of Tuition Assistance
10.05 Effect of Public Law 106-398
10.06 Reserved
10.07 eArmyU and the Navy's Graduate Voucher (GEV) Program

10.08 Top-up Payment Limitations and Entitlement Charges
10.09 Concurrent Receipt Issues
10.10 Top-up and Tutorial Assistance
10.11 Reserved
10.12 Reserved

10.13 Overview
10.14 Tuition Assistance Forms
10.15 Top-up Information Required
10.16 Additional Evidence Issues

10.17 DoD/VA Authority
10.18 Table of Program Differences

10.19 Original Claims
10.20 Supplemental Claims
10.21 Disallowance
10.22 Payment Procedures
10.23 BDN Changes

10.24 Delimiting Date for Top-Up
10.25 Reserved
10.26 Clock Hours vs Credit Hours
10.27 One-Year Rule
10.28 Payment for Overlapping Top-up and Regular Chapter 30
10.29 Withdrawal From A Course
10.30 Distance Learning



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a. This chapter covers the claims processing instructions for the Tuition Assistance Top-up benefit under chapter 30 (38 U.S.C. 3014(b)).  Top-up was authorized under Public Law 106-398. This benefit is also referred to as TATU, or TAT but will be referred to as Top-up in this chapter. 

b. Top-up became effective October 30, 2000.  Top-up was available for terms that began on or after October 30, 2000. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a. Top-up allows VA to reimburse an individual for all or a portion of the charges for a course or courses that are not reimbursed under certain military education programs.   The VA is effectively "topping up" the benefits paid by the military so that the individual receives full (or close to full) reimbursement for his or her course or courses.  Currently, only the military-wide Tuition Assistance program (see par. 10.04) and the Army's eArmyU program and the Navy's Graduate Voucher (GEV) programs (see par. 10.07) are eligible for Top-up.  In this chapter, the term Tuition Assistance will refer to all military education programs that can be "topped up."  

NOTE: In addition to the military branches, the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) also provides Tuition Assistance to active duty and reserve personnel.  Top-up is payable when Tuition Assistance is paid by DANTES. 

b.  To receive Top-up, an individual must be eligible for chapter 30 benefits and also receive some amount of Tuition Assistance from his or her military component for the course(s) he or she is pursuing.  VA cannot pay Top-up if Tuition Assistance is zero.  See paragraph 10.08a for additional payment restrictions.  

NOTE:  To receive Top-up, the individual does not have to be enrolled in a program of education as defined in M22-4, part III, paragraph 6.02. Also, the change of program rules do not apply to Top-up (see pt. IV, par. 4.07 for these rules.)

c.  Entitlement for Top-up is charged in two separate ways (see par. 10.08b). 

d.  Top-up courses do not have to be VA approved or approved by a State approving agency (SAA).  VA's course approval rules (see 38 CFR 21.4253 and 21.4254) do not apply.  VA could pay Top-up for a private pilot course.  

NOTE:  Any training that qualifies for Tuition Assistance can qualify for Top-up.  Therefore, a distance learning course offered through DANTES, or any other school, could be topped up.

e.  For concurrent payment issues, see paragraph 10.09

f. Only federal tuition assistance programs are eligible for Top-up.  Reserve or National Guard members not on active duty who are in receipt of state funded Tuition Assistance for course work and may also receive regular chapter 30, chapter 1606, or chapter 1607 benefits for the same courses. 

g. Although Reserve and National Guard components offer Tuition Assistance, there is no Top-up provision for chapters 1606 or 1607 of title 10, U.S. Code. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Tuition Assistance began in the 1950s as a means to provide education benefits to persons who were on active duty.  At that time, VA education benefits were payable only to veterans.  The military services paid Tuition Assistance benefits.  Before Public Law 106-398, the military could pay 75% of the cost of a course.  VA could not pay benefits to a student for the same courses for which Tuition Assistance was paid by the military. 

Go to Top

10.05  EFFECT OF PUBLIC LAW 106-398

(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Public Law 106-398 authorized the military services, including all active, reserve and National Guard components to pay Tuition Assistance up to 100% of the cost of tuition and related charges.  Effective October 1, 2002, the Department of Defense (DoD) agreed that the services would pay up to 100% of tuition with some limits.  The limits are currently set at $250 per credit hour with a maximum of $4,500 of per year.  (These limits are subject to change.)  The services may only fund part-time training.

NOTE: The military services are not required to pay Tuition Assistance at all or to pay 100% if they do offer Tuition Assistance. Each military branch or component determines whether or not to offer Tuition Assistance and the criteria under which members are eligible.  The military branch or component, rather than VA, determines the percentage level of tuition reimbursement. If an individual is taking very expensive courses, Tuition Assistance, even at the 100% level, may not cover the entire cost of the courses.  Likewise, an individual may receive the maximum amount of Tuition Assistance permitted in less than a full fiscal year and not be eligible for Tuition Assistance for the remainder of that year.

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a.  eArmyU Program.  The eArmyU program is an Army variation on Tuition Assistance.  This is an on-line degree program developed by the Army in July 2000.  The eArmyU program provides the member with 100% reimbursement and has the same limits as the Army's traditional Tuition Assistance program. 

b. GEV Program.  The GEV is a Navy education program that partially reimburses officers for the cost of courses.  The program is a form of Tuition Assistance.  Education Service has determined that GEV is subject to the Top-up provisions described in this chapter.

Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

All Top-up payments are made to servicepersons or to veterans who are in the Selected Reserve, never to the educational institution.  An individual can request less than maximum payable Top-up if he or she wishes a lesser amount.

a.  Amount of Top-up Payment.  The amount of Top-up payment is subject to the same monthly rate limits that apply to regular chapter 30 benefits (not including a chapter 1606 kicker). For example, a person applying for Top-up courses at half-time training could receive no more than the half-time rate for those courses. Additionally, Top-up payment is limited to the lesser of: (1) educational expenses that are not reimbursed by the military, (2) a lesser amount of expenses not reimbursed by the military per the student's request, (3) a proportionate amount of expenses if the student is not eligible for a full enrollment period, (4) the amount of Top-up entitlement remaining, and (5) the amount of regular chapter 30 entitlement remaining (38 CFR 21.7142(b)).

EXAMPLE 1:  A Category lB claimant who receives Tuition Assistance for a three-month course in fiscal year 2007 could receive Top-up benefits up to $3,225 ($1,075 monthly chapter 30 rates X 3 months) if training full time; $1612.50 ($537.50 monthly chapter 30 rate X 3 months) if training half time, etc.  (Note:  The maximum Top-up benefit could be higher if the claimant were eligible for additional contributions or for kickers under chapters 30, 32, or 1606).

EXAMPLE 2:  A person became eligible on March 1, 2007, and applied for Top-up of $150 while enrolled from February 1, 2007, through April 30, 2007. His full-time rate is $1,075.  This person could receive Top-up for two of the three months (March and April), which equates to a $100 Top-up payment.

b. Entitlement Limitations

VA makes two separate entitlement calculations in Top-up cases as discussed below.  One, VA charges the regular chapter 30 entitlement based on dollars paid divided by the claimant's full-time rate.  Two, VA makes a separate Top-up entitlement calculation based on the length of the course(s).

(1)  Regular Chapter 30 Entitlement Calculation.  The amount of entitlement charged for Top-up payments is determined by dividing the amount of the payment by the claimant's full time institutional monthly rate (including any chapter 30 kicker but excluding additional contributions or any chapter 32 or chapter 1606 kicker).  A TIMS flash may be added to note that the amounts that were excluded in the entitlement calculation.  

(2) Top-up Entitlement Calculation. The Top-up benefit requires a special entitlement calculation that is separate and distinct from the regular chapter 30 entitlement charge.  An individual has 36 months of Top-up entitlement.  Top-up “entitlement” is not adjusted by training time. If a Top-up payment is made for a course, the Top-up entitlement is reduced by the length of the course regardless of how much the Top-up payment is. 

EXAMPLE:  Assume a person claimed Top-up for a 3-credit course from October 2, 2006 to November 16, 2006.  The un-reimbursed cost is $250 and the claimant's full-time rate is $1,075 per month.   The Top-up entitlement charge is 1 month and 15 days even though the training time is 1/2 time.  The regular chapter 30 entitlement charge is 6 days (250/1075 = .23255).  See M22-4, part IV, paragraph 14.05, table 4 for the conversion of decimal to days.     

NOTE 1:  Neither the Top-up entitlement nor the regular chapter 30 entitlement may be extended.  This policy is consistent with 38 CFR 21.7142(b) and should be applied to Top-up awards processed after September 18, 2007.  Previous Top-up awards where entitlement was extended should not be adjusted.       

NOTE 2: Neither the Top-up entitlement nor the regular chapter 30 entitlement is subject to entitlement restoration (see pt. IV, par. 11.30). 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a.  Servicepersons.  Servicepersons may receive regular chapter 30 benefits and Top-up at the same time as long as each benefit is for different unit courses. Servicepersons may not receive regular chapter 30 benefits and Top-up for the same courses.

NOTE: Top-up is a chapter 30 benefit. Top-up is not subject to the rule that prohibits payment of VA education benefits to servicepersons for courses that are fully or partially reimbursed by the military (through Tuition Assistance).  See M22-4, part IV, paragraph 3.07 for a discussion of this rule. 

b.  Reservists.  As indicated in M22-4 part IV, paragraph 3.07, Note, reservists (not on active duty) may receive regular chapter 30 benefits and Tuition Assistance for the same courses.  They could also receive Top-up for those same courses. 

EXAMPLE:  A veteran served six years on active duty in the Air Force and qualified for chapter 30.  He then went into the Air Force Reserve.  The Air Force Reserve is providing Tuition Assistance benefits for certain courses.  In this scenario, this individual is entitled to regular chapter 30, Tuition Assistance from the Air Force, and the Top-up benefit under chapter 30 for the same courses. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

An individual may receive tutorial assistance and Top-up for the same courses provided the individual meets VA's requirements for tutorial assistance.  The individual must be enrolled in a program of education, be training at least at half time, and meet all other requirements for tutorial assistance. See M22-4, part III, paragraph 10.02 tutorial assistance requirements.  

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

NOTE: An application for chapter 30 is always required to receive the Top-up benefit.  See paragraph 10.19.

a.  The only required additional document for Top-up is the approved Tuition Assistance form(s) as described in paragraph 10.14 below. These are forms the claimant receives from the military and gives to the training establishment so that the training establishment can claim reimbursement.  The forms must show the amount of tuition assistance authorized by the military (see par.10.15 below).  Supporting documentation, such as evidence of tuition charged by the school, may also be necessary, but is not required if the DoD form contains all necessary information. 

b.  Accept the completed form directly from the claimant as evidence of Tuition Assistance authorized by the military.  Neither the training establishment nor the military branch is required to submit the form to VA and should not be requested to do so.  A legible photocopy or fax copy of the form is acceptable.  The claimant must indicate somewhere on the form that it is a claim for Top-up. 

NOTE 1:  If additional information is needed from the claimant before the Top-up request can be processed, use PCGL Letter DEV-16 to request information. 

NOTE 2:  There is the possibility that some claimants may submit a claim for Tuition Assistance to VA.  If this happens, advise the claimant that Tuition Assistance must be approved by his or her military component before Top-up benefits can be paid. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

There is no standardized Tuition Assistance form used throughout DoD. Each military service uses its own form(s) for application and approval of Tuition Assistance.  These forms all contain common information required by DoD.  The following table lists the form names and numbers for each of the military services.  Reserve and National Guard components use the same forms as their active duty counterparts.

NOTE:  If additional information is needed from the claimant's military Education Service Officer, use PCGL Letter DEV-19 to request information.

Branch Form Name Form Number
Army Request for Top-up:  Army Tuition Assistance Program
(Unnumbered form; used for both Tuition Assistance and eArmyU)
Air Force Authority for Tuition Assistance - Education Services Program AF Form 1227 (See NOTE below)
Navy Application for TA Authorization NAVMC 10883/NAVEDTRA 1560/5
Marine Corps Application for Tuition Assistance NAVMC 10883
  Tuition Assistance Authorization NAVMC 10883 (page 2)
Dept. of Homeland Security (Coast Guard)

Application for Off-Duty Assistance Tuition Assistance Authorization

Dept. of Trans., USCG CG-4147

NOTE 1:  Army participants will use the unnumbered form listed above for all Top-up claims.  This form is available through the Army's GoArmyEd web portal.  It requires the physical signature of both the soldier and an Army Education Services Officer.  

NOTE 2:  The Air Force uses an electronic version of AF Form 1227 with an electronic signature, which is acceptable to VA.  This form should have the official seal. 

NOTE 3:  The forms used by the military components for Tuition Assistance application and approval are acceptable as a request for the Top-up benefit because these forms are signed by the claimant.  However, the claimant must specify somewhere on a form that he or she is claiming Top-up benefits. 

NOTE 4:  DANTES uses the DANTES Enrollment Form for servicepersons as a Tuition Assistance application and authorization form.  This form will normally indicate the cost of the course but will not specifically indicate the amount of reimbursement.  The amount must be obtained from the claimant. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

The information described below is necessary to determine eligibility for Top-up.  Some services have one form with all the information.  Other services have the information on two separate forms. 

a. Application Information.  The application portion of the forms contain the following information:

NOTE: The total cost of the course consists of the portion paid by the military and the portion paid by the student.

b. Authorization Information.  The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have a separate form for authorization of Tuition Assistance.  The Army and Air Force include application and authorization information on a single form.  In addition to the application information, the following evidence from the form(s) is required.  Do not request this information directly from the military branch or the training facility. 

(1)  The Amount of Tuition Assistance Authorized.  This is usually indicated by the phrase “Government Share” or “Cost to Government”. 

(2)   The Name, Title, and Signature of the Person who Authorized the Tuition Assistance.  Make sure this signature actually authorizes the payment of Tuition Assistance.  Some services also require certification, usually from the claimant’s commanding officer, that simply certifies the claimant’s availability to pursue training.  The Education Services Officer normally authorizes Tuition Assistance.


Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a.  Alternative Evidence.  As an alternative to evidence from the military, the claimant can submit evidence from the educational institution that Tuition Assistance has been received for the courses claimed.  Do not request this information directly from the school.  The person designated as the VA School Certifying Official may not be the person who handles Tuition Assistance at the school.  Schools do not have VA reporting requirements for Top-up courses as they do for regular courses. The schools will not receive an annual reporting fee for Top-up enrollments.

b.  DoD Authorization.  All Tuition Assistance forms contain the name, title, and signature of the person approving the claimant's application and authorizing the payment of Tuition Assistance.  This information must be complete and legible in order to approve Top-up payment.  Some forms contain the address and phone number of the authorizing official.  If the RPO needs more information, it is appropriate to contact that individual, either in writing or by telephone.  PCGL Letter DEV-19 may also be used as noted above.

Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

DoD has full authority and responsibility for approving and paying Tuition Assistance.  Likewise, VA has full authority and responsibility for approving and paying Top-up.  Refer all issues and questions regarding eligibility or payment of Tuition Assistance to military branch points of contact for resolution. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

The following table compares Tuition Assistance, regular chapter 30 benefits, and Top-up:

  Tuition Assistance Regular Chapter 30 Top-up
Course Must Be Approved No Yes No
Student Must Be in Program of Education No Yes No
Must Be Eligible for Chapter 30 No Yes Yes
DOD Determines Eligibility
Yes No No
VA Determines Eligibility
No Yes Yes
Limits on Entitlement
Yes, set by DOD Yes, 36 months of Full time benefits Yes, 36 months of enrollment
Reduction in chapter 30 Basic Entitlement
No Yes Yes
Reduction in chapter 30 Top-up Entitlement
No No Yes
Entitlement Charge based on Training Time
N/A Yes Yes for the charge to regular chapter 30 entitlement; no for charge to Top-up entitlement
Payment Based on Training Time
No Yes Yes
Enrollment Certification
N/A from School by DOD from claimant
Paid to
School Claimant Claimant
Counseling Available
by DOD by VA by VA
Change of Program Rules
No Yes No
Mitigating Circumstances Apply
No Yes No
Certificate of Eligibility Issued
No Yes Yes
Unsatisfactory Progress Rules
No Yes No
Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Top-up can only be paid to persons who are eligible to receive chapter 30 benefits. If eligibility to chapter 30 has not been established, the Top-up claimant must submit an original claim on a VA Form 22-1990 or through the Veterans On-line Application (VONAPP).  If chapter 30 eligibility is established, follow these procedures:

a.  Top-up Immediately Payable 

(1)   Establish an End Product (EP) 200. 

(2)   Issue a generic Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to advise the claimant of basic chapter 30 eligibility.  (Establish a type "I" COE master record in the Benefits Delivery Network (BDN)). 

(3)  Follow the instructions in paragraph 10.22 below.

(4)  Take the EP when the COE is authorized.

b.  Development Required

(1)  Establish an End Product (EP) 200.

(2)  Issue a generic COE to advise the claimant of basic of chapter 30 eligibility.  (Establish a type "I" COE master record in the Benefits Delivery Network (BDN).) 

(3)  Send TATU Development Letter (PCGL Letter DEV-16) . 

(4)  Take the EP when the COE is authorized.        

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

If a chapter 30 master record exists and the claimant would be eligible for regular chapter 30 payments, there is no specific form required to claim the Top-up benefit.  Accept a VA Form 22-1990, VA Form 22-1995, any correspondence, or annotation on a Tuition Assistance form that indicates it is a claim for Top-up.

Supplemental Top-up claims should be controlled under EP 210.

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

If the claimant applying for Top-up is not eligible for chapter 30 benefits, deny the chapter 30 claim.  There is no need to mention Top-up in this letter.  Do create a disallowed record in BDN.  If the claimant is eligible for chapter 30 but not for Top-up, send the claimant a letter which specifically denies Top-up.  Use the PCGL DIS-14 letter for this purpose.   Always include appellate rights with the denial notification. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Top-up payments are made through BDN.  Use an 06U fiscal transaction, which currently does not charge regular chapter 30 entitlement nor the special Top-up entitlement described in paragraph 10.08.   The calculation of Top-up payment and the two entitlement calculations are done manually or with an Excel spreadsheet approved by Education Service.  

NOTE:  If a claimant has been paid regular chapter 30 benefits and submits a claim for Top-up for an earlier term that would cause entitlement to exhaust from a date that would require termination of the chapter 30 award, notify the claimant of the situation and tell the claimant to elect which benefit to pay.  Do not pay Top-up or adjust the chapter 30 award until a response has been received.

a.  Create a Chapter 30 BDN Master Record. There must be a chapter 30 master record in order to pay Top-up.  If a master record exists, proceed to subparagraph b.  If no master record exists, process a COE transaction to create an “I” master record.

b.  Determine the Amount of Top-up Payable. Follow the steps described below to determine the amount payable:

(1) From the military Tuition Assistance Authorization form(s), determine the total cost of the course(s) to the student.  This is the net total cost to the student.  If the school granted a discount, VA needs to know what the student's cost was after the discount was applied. If more than one course is being taken, it may be necessary to add the separate amounts for each course in order to determine the total.

NOTE: Tuition Assistance and Top-up can be paid for fees including lab fees and other charges to the student for enrollment in a course.  However, not all military branches authorize Tuition Assistance for fees and charges.  If the branch does not include fees and other charges for Tuition Assistance, VA cannot include these fees and other charges in the Top-up payment either.  Therefore, it is not necessary to develop for fees or charges if these are not indicated on the Tuition Assistance authorization form(s).  If fees and charges are indicated on the form, be sure to include them in the total cost to the student. 

(2) From the Tuition Assistance authorization form), determine the amount of Tuition Assistance authorized by the military component. 

(3) Subtract the amount of Tuition Assistance authorized as determined in step (2) from the total cost of the course(s) to the student as determined in step (1).  If the military is paying the entire cost, deny the claim for Top-up.

(4) Determine the claimant’s training time for the course(s) for which Tuition Assistance is authorized.  If the course(s) are graduate level courses, use the undergraduate training time rules for this portion of the calculation.  It may be necessary to check the Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS) to determine if a school has a 12, 13, or 14-hour full-time requirement.  If the course is being taken at an unapproved branch location, use the parent school’s full-time requirement if the parent school is approved.  If the school is not approved, use 12 hours as the full-time requirement.

NOTE:  In most graduate training cases, the use of the undergraduate training times should be sufficient to permit payment of the full difference between the cost of the course and the Tuition Assistance paid by DoD.  If, however, the Tuition Assistance limits prevent payment of the full difference in a graduate training case, check WEAMS or ask the ELR to determine the school’s graduate training full-time enrollment requirement.  This information is usually contained in the school’s catalog.  If the claims examiner authorizing the Top-up payment is familiar with the school’s graduate training time levels, indicate that fact in the The Image Management System (TIMS) Note and make payment on that rate without development.

(5) Determine the claimant’s chapter 30 rate levels for the training time determined in step (4).  

(6) Calculate the total payment limit using the monthly rate level determined in step (5) as the monthly rate.  If a legislative rate increase occurred during the term, calculate the payment limit separately for the periods before and after the increase and add the two results to determine the total payment limit. 

(7)  The amount payable is lesser of:

c. Make Entitlement Charge Calculations

(1)  Regular Chapter 30 Entitlement.   The formula for charging regular chapter 30 entitlement is:       

NOTE: The "full-time" rate includes a chapter 30 kicker but excludes additional contributions, chapter 32 kickers, and chapter 1606 kickers. 

(2)  Top-up Entitlement Charge. Top-up entitlement is charged based on the length of the term, regardless of training time.  A three-month term results in a charge of three months of Top-up entitlement regardless of whether the three months is a full-time or one-half time training.  For overlapping courses, do not “double charge” entitlement.  For periods that overlap, only count the period once. If payment is based on enrollment in a course that is not organized on a term basis, charge entitlement based on the months and days of the enrollment just as for training organized on a term basis. 

d. Comprehensive Example of Payment and Entitlement Calculations.  The following example illustrates the calculations described in subparagraphs b and c above:

Facts. The Tuition Assistance authorization form shows the student is enrolled in two 3-semester hour courses at Acme University from November 14, 2006, to February 21, 2007.  It shows the tuition for the two courses is $1,085 each.  One course has a separate lab fee of $50.  The military branch has authorized a total Tuition Assistance payment of $1,665.  The claimant is eligible for chapter 30 benefits under Category IB (term of service of 3 years or more) and has been on active duty for 4 years.

How to Calculate payment        

  1. The total cost to the student is $2,220 ($1,085 each for the two courses plus a $50 fee).  Include the fee in the total cost.
  2. The amount of Tuition Assistance authorized is $1,665. 
  3. The difference between the total cost and the amount of Tuition Assistance authorized is $555 ($2,220-$1,665).
  4. There is no record of approval for Acme University in WEAMS.  Therefore, the training time is based on the assumption that 12 credit hours is full time. Since the claimant is receiving Tuition Assistance for 6 hours, training time would be half-time.  (Remember to use only the courses for which Tuition Assistance was paid for this determination.  The claimant may be enrolled in additional courses.  VA is only concerned with the courses covered by Tuition Assistance.)
  5. Calculate the maximum Top-up payable as follows.  (The half-time rate for category 1B for fiscal 2007 is $537.50.) 
    November 17 days X $537.50/30 = $304.58
    December 30 days $537.50
    January 30 days $537.50
    February 21 days X 537.50/30 = $376.25
      TOTAL $1,755.83

    The difference between the total cost of the course and the amount of Tuition Assistance ($555) is less than the maximum amount payable ($1,755.83).  Therefore, the Top-up payment is $555.

  6. The chapter 30 Top-up entitlement for this example would be 3 months and 8 days (assuming 30-day months).  Adding the 2 partial months (17 days and 21 days) gives a total of 38 days, which converts to 1 month and 8 days.  Add the 2 full months to this figure (2 months + 1 month + 8 days) to obtain the total of 3 months and 8 days.
  7. The regular chapter 30 entitlement charge would be:  $555/1075 = .52.  Converting decimal to days from table 4 of M22-4, part IV, paragraph 14.05 gives an entitlement charge of 15 days. 

e.  Reserved

f. Making the Entitlement Charges.  Use the CORR (Correction) command on the M23 (chapter 30 Eligibility and Entitlement) screen and complete the following fields: 

g. Process Payment

(1)  Use the FIST command with an 06U fiscal transaction on the F15 (Special Payment) screen.  Enter the Top-up payment. On the F15 screen, use the cost codes from the table below.  Capture the screen for record purposes.

Code Branch
281 Army
282 Air Force
283 Navy
284 Marine
285 Coast Guard
286 NOAA
287 Public Health

NOTE 1:  BDN requires two signatures on all fiscal transactions.  However, if the VCE processing the Top-up payment has single signature authority, the manual permits the authorizer to "blind sign" the claim up to $8,000.  (See M22-4, pt. III, par. 1.32.) 

NOTE 2: If there is a debt, be sure to manually offset the debt after following due process procedures. 

(2) Route claim token to senior authorizer or to the appropriate authorization queue. 

(3) The Senior will authorize the fiscal transaction using the FAUT command. 

(4) Capture the F95 screen into TIMS and finish the claim token.

h.  Notify Claimant. Fiscal payments do not issue award letters.  Instead, use PCGL Letter AWD-24  to notify the claimant. This is in addition to the previously released COE, which advised the claimant of his or her eligibility to chapter 30. Capture the PCGL letter into TIMS.  The letter must contain the following information:

(1) The amount of the Top-up payment authorized.

(2) The names and beginning dates of the courses for which it is authorized.

(3) The number of months of Top-up entitlement used and remaining.

(4) The number of months of chapter 30 entitlement used and remaining.

(5) An explanation that the amount authorized is the maximum payable, but that he or she can elect to receive a lesser amount. Advise the claimant that if he or she wants a lesser amount, to return the payment and submit a letter stating the amount requested.

(6) Advise the claimant that acceptance of the payment acknowledges that he or she is enrolled in the course(s) for which the benefit is paid.  Advise the person that if he or she did not enroll in the course(s) to return the payment.

(7) Attach VA Form 4107, Notice of Procedural and Appellate Rights.

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Education Service has implemented the following enhancements to support Top-up payments.

a.  Fiscal Transaction. An 06U fiscal transaction was installed.  When a Top-up claim is paid, this transaction will display on the transaction history portion of the M22 (Transaction and Payment History) screen.  As noted earlier, this transaction does not charge entitlement. 

b.  Correctable M23 Screen Field. The M23 screen contains an additional field for Top-up. This field is used to enter and store the cumulative Top-up entitlement used.  The field is updated using the CORR command.  This field will not be automatically updated by the payment.

Go to Top



(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

If the claimant reaches his or her chapter 30 delimiting date during a term for which Top-up is claimed, determine the proportionate amount of Top-up payable.  For example if Top-up is claimed for a term that begins on January 10 and ends on May 24 and the delimiting date is April 5, Top-up is only payable through April 4.  To determine that amount, first determine the Top-up amount payable for the entire term.  Then determine the portion of the term for which Top-up is payable as a percentage.  Use calendar days in the computation and assume 30-day months.  Then multiply the percentage by the total amount.  In this example, if Top-up of $300 would be payable for the entire term, the computation would be:

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Training time in Top-up cases must be determined under title 38 rules.  If the school indicates both clock hours and credit hours, VA should use the training time that would be to the claimant's advantage.  Use clock hours to determine training time if a course is approved in clock hours. 

NOTE:  If Top-up is claimed for a course that is not approved for VA and the Tuition Assistance form lists only a "computed" number of credit hours, measure training time on a clock hour basis. Determine the number of weekly clock hours.  Do not use credit hours that are computed by the military service for administrative purposes.

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

a. General.  Like other education benefits, Top-up is only payable for claims received within one year of enrollment (see M22-4, pt. IV, par. 1.16A).  This rule would only apply to original claims and claims for Top-up that are changes of program. 

b. Top-up Enrollment More than One Year Before Date of Claim.  If a Top-up claim is received within one year of the ending date of the term, Top-up can be paid for the entire term.  It is not necessary to prorate the amount payable so as to pay a fractional term.   

NOTE:  This is not the way lump-sum payment claims would be handled. Lump-sum claims would require proration. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

VA can pay Top-up and regular chapter 30 up to the separate legal maximums for each benefit regardless of whether the courses are overlapping or not.  Each claim must be considered separately and is on a separate track.  For each benefit, VA will determine the monthly rate in the usual manner. 

EXAMPLE 1: A serviceperson enrolls full-time and claims the regular chapter 30 from June 1, 2007, to August 1, 2007.  These courses have tuition and fees of $4,000.   The correct payment for this claim would be $1,075 per month (assuming category IB for fiscal year 2007).  The full statutory rate is payable because it is less than the rate needed to reimburse tuition and fees ($2,000 a month).

EXAMPLE 2:  For the same enrollment period, the individual claims Top-up for 6 different credits at three quarter (3/4) time training.  These courses have an un-reimbursed tuition and fees of $1,000.  It would be correct to pay the $1,000 Top-up claim (this is equivalent to $500 a month) as well as the regular chapter 30 claims even though the courses run concurrently.   It is correct to pay the Top-up at $500 per month because this rate is less than the 3/4 time statutory rate, which is $806.25 a month.

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

Schools are required to notify the military official who authorized the Tuition Assistance payment of a student's termination from a course. The military services determine what, if any, of the amount is subject to recovery as a debt. Do not adjust Top-up unless the military service initiates collection action for the Tuition Assistance.  Follow these procedures.   

a. Notification of Withdrawal from a Course.  If a student or school advises VA that a claimant has withdrawn from a class, send the notification to the military official who authorized the Tuition Assistance. That person's name should be on the Tuition Assistance authorization form submitted by the claimant.  Request notification of the final determination.  

b. Notification of DoD Collection Action.  If VA receives notification from DoD that the service is taking collection action on a Tuition Assistance payment, advise the claimant that he or she must repay the Top-up payment because of failure to complete the course.  The six-credit hour exclusion applicable to regular chapter 30 benefits does not apply to Top-up.  Process an 04E fiscal transaction (Establish or Increase a Debt) to create an overpayment for the amount of the Top-up payment for the course(s).  Be sure to restore both the amount of Top-up and regular entitlement used. 

NOTE: RPOs are entitled to end product credit for adjustments to a Top-up award required when a student fails to complete a course.  An adjustment to a Top-up award using the 04E transaction is the equivalent of a "quit cert" or STOP action.  It is an adjudicative decision to terminate benefits retroactively, and the claimant has due process rights of which he or she must be notified.  RPOs can use the PCLR (Pending Issue Clear) command to take a one-time supplemental end product in such cases. 

Go to Top


(Change Date: April 29, 2008)

VA can pay Top-up for distance learning courses (independent study in VA's terminology).  Any training that qualifies for Tuition Assistance can receive Top-up. If the student is taking distance learning, the RPO should make the payment and entitlement calculations based on the enrollment period indicated on the Tuition Assistance form. Ask the student to advise VA when he or she finishes the course. Diary the case for a reasonable period to make sure this information is received. Then, make new payment and entitlement calculations based on the actual enrollment period.

Go to Top