I hear these commonly asked questions in the Veteran and Military Student Success Center.

I may be eligible to attend the University of South Carolina Aiken using VA Benefits.  Who do I contact for this information?

The Veterans and Military Student Success Center supports all Veterans, Military Personnel, and Military Family Members including those who are using Veterans Administration (VA) Educational Benefits to pursue college degrees.  Please contact us at 803-643-6767 to set up an appointment.

There seems to be a great deal of VA, FAFSA, and University paperwork and information required to go to school.

I agree. I am the Director of the Veteran and Military Student Success Center responding to your comment and this is why I highly recommend you call the VMSSC at 803-643-6767 and speak with a fellow veteran/military student to walk along side you in the process.  We understand the process and desire to assist you in optimizing your benefits and education experience.  You can go the process alone, but keeping with the ethos of our military heritage, I recommend we conduct this process as a unit.

What do you mean “Optimize Education Benefits?” 

Optimizing your VA education benefit means, getting the best and most education with your benefit. I watch veterans, military members, and or their family members complete either a 2-year degree or an undergraduate degree or no degree at all with the same 36-month benefit.  Students are running out of benefits before they complete their degree. How you use your education benefit very well might determine your future success.

What do I need to do to get my educational benefits started at the University of South Carolina Aiken?

The first step would be to contact the Veterans and Military Student Success Center, or you can download the USC Aiken Veteran and Military Student Success Checklist and work through the process.

Do I need to bring any paperwork with me to the office?

All Veterans should bring a copy of their DD-214 (Member 4 Copy). Veterans who are still currently serving in the National Guard or Reserve should bring a copy of their NOBE (Notice of Basic Eligibility).  If you are a military family member or have already applied for your benefit, please bring us a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility.

How much of my remaining benefits will each semester use up?

As a general rule, the fall and spring semesters will use 3.5 months each. Each summer semester uses 1.5. These are subject to change based on the schools schedule, however, and you should always check with the VMSS staff to verify the information for your semester(s) in question.

How do I find out if I have any benefits left?

Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 or log on to your ebenefits account at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal

Can I apply for Financial Aid in addition to using my VA benefits?
Yes! According to new legislation passed in June 2009, effective July 2009, VA benefits are no longer considered when determining Financial Aid eligibility.  In addition, in order to be eligible for scholarships offered through the University of South Carolina Aiken, you must have a FAFSA application on file.

Does the University of South Carolina Aiken participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Yes. Only individuals entitled to the Post 9/11 GI BILL (Chapter33) at the 100 percent benefit rate are eligible. Funds are disbursed on a first come, first serve basis.

How often do I need to verify enrollment at the University of South Carolina Aiken with the VA?

Students receiving Chapter 30, 1606, or 1607 benefits must verify their enrollment monthly.  Chapter 33 and 35 recipients do not need to verify enrollment. You may verify either online at gibill.va.gov or by calling 1-877-823-2378.

What is considered full time?

Students in an undergraduate program are full time if they are taking 12 credit hours or more. 

I have the Post 9/11 GI BILL, who will pay for my housing?

The VA will pay for your in-state tuition and fees up to your eligibility percentage.  This is the only money received from the VA.  Book stipends and your monthly housing allowance will be issued to you through the means you set up when the application for benefits was completed. While we will work to freeze your covered tuition and fees, you are responsible for any fees not covered, such as:

  • Housing
  • Meal plans
  • Books and supplies
  • Athletic passes
  • Parking
  • Non-resident tuition

When will the VA pay?

The VA will pay in arrears. This means they pay at the end of the month, after you have attended courses. Students should expect to receive their first full check on the month after school starts.  Any amounts received before then will be smaller checks and will either be your book stipend (if Post 9/11) or your prorated days for the first month you are actually in attendance.