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Post 9/11 GI Bill and Excelsior College Exams
#1
So, some people might already know this, but it was a surprise to me when I found out (and if I'd known, I would have approached my degree plan totally differently).

This only applies to people who are using the Post 9/11 Gi Bill at Excelsior College. (I don't think TECEPs work this way, but if I'm wrong then by all means let me know!)

Most people using the GI Bill already know how the Monthly Housing Allowance works. If you're taking more than half time, you get a certain amount of money. If all of your classes are distance, then it's a percentage (based on course load) of half the national average BAH for an E5 with dependents. If you're taking one in-person class, then you get the local MHA rate.

What I was surprised to find out was that Excelsior's exams are treated like classes, at least if you're enrolled at Excelsior when you're taking them. The day you register for an exam is the first day of your "semester". The day you take the exam is the last day of your semester. 3 credits in 4 weeks is full time enrollment. So if you're taking one local class for three credits, and on the first day of semester you also sign up for three, three-credit Uexcel exams (and you take them all at the end of the semester), then you're going to get the max GI Bill benefits for that semester. Or you can sign up for one exam at a time, and take them faster (standard semester is about 15 weeks, so one in-person 3-credit class that is full length, then one 3-credit Uexcel exam every five weeks). Or combine with online classes as needed - whatever your degree plan requires. Keep in mind that the timeline is the important bit here. Excelsior lets you take an exam up to six months after you register, and the GI Bill *will* pay for that, but your rate of pursuit doing things that way is so low that it's not even going to be a blip on their radar.

Yes, this actually works. This is my first semester attempting it, and I tell you what, the extra money in my pocket is *amazing* (local housing allowance here is more than 2k a month. Huge). I wouldn't be able to handle this kind of load with full-on courses (even online courses), since I work full time, but exams are easier to manage. Study though! You don't get credit for failing.
DSST | Astronomy - 68 | Anthropology - 73 | HTYH - 450 | Intro to Comp. - 454 | Religions - 459 | Lifespan Dev. - 419 | Counseling - 409 | Substance Abuse - 456 | Geography - 463 | Environment & Humanity - 463 | CLEP | A & I Lit - 75 | Humanities - 57 | Psych - 64 | Western Civ I - 57 | College Comp. - 65 | College Math - 61 | Ed. Psych - 65 | US History I - 68 | Soc Sci & History - 69 | Western Civ II - 53 | US History II - 61 | UExcel | College Writing - A | Social Psych - B | Abnormal Psych - B | Cultural Div. - B | Juvenile Delinquency - B | World Pop. - A | Psych of Adulthood & Aging - A | Straighterline | Intro to Philosophy - 75% | American Gov. - 89% | Macroecon | Microecon | Bus. Communication | Bus. Ethics | Cultural Anth. - 96% |

AAS in Intelligence Operations Studies - Graduated 2015!
BA in Social Sciences & Humanities from TESU - in progress

186 credits and counting...
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#2
To clarify, are you saying that uxcel exams count as an on campus class?
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#3
Sounds like excelsior is miscategorizing the exams as on campus courses. It wouldn't surprise me to see the VA catch this a year later and demand reimbursement. You may want to verify this. You don't want to have to pay this money back. Being a former military, you know Uncle Sam ALWAYS gets theirs.
CLEPS Passed: 10 DSST Passed: 11 TECEPS: 1

PrLoko-isms
Don't waste time by trying to save time. The only sure way to complete your degree is to knock out credits quickly and efficiently.

Don't let easiness bite you in the rear. Know your endgame (where you want to be) and plan backward from there. Your education is a means to an end.

Be honest professionally, socially and academically. There are people (especially little ones) who look up to you and they're going by your example.

Be proud. Whether you're an Engineer or Fast Food worker, there is honor and dignity in hard work.

Picking on people weaker than you only proves that you are a weak person.
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#4
Excelsior reports them as "Distance" education - same as an online course, just with your course dates being from the day you registered to when you took the exam. Full time rate of pursuit is 12 credits in a semester, or 6 credits in half a semester, or approximately 3 credits a month. If you *combine* a full time rate of pursuit using exams with also taking an in-person course (approved by an advisor from Excelsior and submitted to the VA) from a local college, then you can get the full time local rate for housing allowance. I've been doing this consistently now since 2013 with no issues.

I don't think they're being miscategorized - if this is how the VA has authorized them to submit their enrollment, then that's how it is. If Excelsior was falsifying their enrollment certifications, I imagine that *they* would be on the hook for it, not the students.

You still only get on-campus rate if you're actually taking at least one class on campus each semester.

From the Veterans FAQ - Excelsior College | Veterans FAQ -

"Can I take Excelsior College Exams (ECEs) and still get the solely on-line MHA?

Yes, but in order to receive the prorated or full time MHA when taking ECEs, you must register for and take exams following the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) mandated conditions below.

It is your responsibility to be sure that the dates you register for and schedule/take your exam properly reflect your rate of pursuit so you can qualify for a prorated (greater than half time) or full time MHA.

The term date reported to the DVA will be the total numbers of days beginning with the date of exam registration, and ending with the date the exam was scheduled and attempted. The "start date" of the semester/term is the day you register for an exam, and the "end date" of the semester/term is the day you schedule/take an exam.

How this affects Chapter 33/Post 9-11 students seeking the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)
You must study at a rate, "greater than half-time to full-time," to be eligible for the housing allowance consideration, so it's crucial that you do not register for an exam until you are ready to test in 8 weeks or less from the registration date. If you take the exam more than 8 weeks after registering for an exam you will likely not qualify for the MHA. Active-duty students do not qualify for the MHA regardless of when they test.

The "start date" of the semester/term is the day you register for an exam
The "end date" of the semester/term is the day you schedule/take an exam
For 3-credit exams, students must take the exam within 8 weeks after registering to qualify for the housing allowance
If you take a 3-credit exam sooner than 8 weeks, you will get a higher payment, but over a shorter period
If you take a 3-credit exam more than 8 weeks after registering you will not receive a MHA
The VA will pay the MHA to you after the exams have been completed"



Also:

"How do I receive the full MHA when taking both online and traditional classes?

You can receive the MHA if you take classes from Excelsior College and take a class from a local in-residence, traditional college in your area at the same time. The MHA you receive will be based on the zip code of the local traditional college. All the courses you take must apply to your Excelsior College degree and be approved by your academic advisors. Excelsior College advisors are prepared to discuss the classes you can take in your local area that will apply to your degree while you are taking classes with Excelsior College.

You must be attending college more than 50% or more than half time for the MHA. If you want to receive the full monthly housing stipend you must attend college full time. Attendance less than full time but, greater than half time will provide veteran students with a prorated rate housing stipend, rounded to the nearest tenth.

The course samples below will help you determine your enrollment status:

Taking 12 & 15 week courses:

If you were taking 12 credits (or 4 classes each worth 3 credits) for 15 weeks, that would be considered full-time (100%).
If you were taking 9 credits (or 3 classes each worth 3 credits) for 15 weeks, that would be considered three-quarters time (75%).
If you were taking 6 credits (or 2 classes each worth 3 credits) for 15 weeks that would be considered half-time (50%).
Taking 8 week courses:

If you were taking 6 credits (or 2 classes each worth 3 credits) for 8 weeks, that would be considered full-time (100%).
If you were taking 3 credits (or 1 class worth 3 credits) for 8 weeks that would be considered half -time (50%).
Remember, each term or semester, to get the full MHA, you must take classes from Excelsior and a traditional college at the same time at the full time rate of pursuit. Also, the VA will look at every day in the month to ensure that you are carrying a course load of greater than 50%. If you are not taking 51% or more every day of that month than you will not get the prorated housing allowance rounded to the nearest tenth."
DSST | Astronomy - 68 | Anthropology - 73 | HTYH - 450 | Intro to Comp. - 454 | Religions - 459 | Lifespan Dev. - 419 | Counseling - 409 | Substance Abuse - 456 | Geography - 463 | Environment & Humanity - 463 | CLEP | A & I Lit - 75 | Humanities - 57 | Psych - 64 | Western Civ I - 57 | College Comp. - 65 | College Math - 61 | Ed. Psych - 65 | US History I - 68 | Soc Sci & History - 69 | Western Civ II - 53 | US History II - 61 | UExcel | College Writing - A | Social Psych - B | Abnormal Psych - B | Cultural Div. - B | Juvenile Delinquency - B | World Pop. - A | Psych of Adulthood & Aging - A | Straighterline | Intro to Philosophy - 75% | American Gov. - 89% | Macroecon | Microecon | Bus. Communication | Bus. Ethics | Cultural Anth. - 96% |

AAS in Intelligence Operations Studies - Graduated 2015!
BA in Social Sciences & Humanities from TESU - in progress

186 credits and counting...
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#5
Another interesting fact that I found out about the Post 9/11 with WGU while completing my Master's Degree there was that the 6 month semesters were in fact considered to be semesters by the VA and 3 courses completed in that 6 month period was considered full time online learning so I received max 1/2 BAH. So technically one could complete 3 courses in 1 or 2 months and slack off for the remaining 4 or 5 and receive full 1/2 BAH the entire time.
2014 MBA Management & Strategy - WGU
2013 BS
Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology - TESC
[SIZE=2]
2013 AS
Nuclear Engineering Technology - TESC

[/SIZE]
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#6
Leherself Wrote:I don't think they're being miscategorized - if this is how the VA has authorized them to submit their enrollment, then that's how it is. If Excelsior was falsifying their enrollment certifications, I imagine that *they* would be on the hook for it, not the students.

I highly doubt the govt will ask excelsior for reimbursement. I don't think Excelsior is falsifying anything, rather, something is getting mistranslated somewhere. All you need is ONE zealous new VA auditor looking to catch SOMETHING for their performance review. If they do, this will be seen as NOT fraud, but an administrative error. And administrative errors are corrected by placing things BACK the way they where before the mistake, so this could easily end up with you being provided a bill for overpayment. It can also be considered fraudulent on your part if you know that you are taking distance courses, but are being paid as you are taking butt in seat classes.

I knew a guy who was a little late in reporting his address change for BAH in the military. Not only did the govt get their money back, but charged him with a UCMJ violation for fraud. I know you're a veteran now and the UCMJ won't touch you, but this is just an example of how these things play out.

I'm not judging you in any way. I am merely trying to advise you to proactively SEEK clarification before the payback amount gets prohibitively large. This may be EXACTLY the way it was supposed to work and you can breathe easy and enjoy the extra cash. Being in the military and working in Federal agencies, I know how they work, and trust me, this will be on YOU to pay back, because the only one receiving a windfall is you. I'll take the $700+ bucks distance rate over the $2000 plus rate if I know it won't bite me in the rear later. Consider my advise with a grain of salt and do as you see fit.

Regardless, thank you for your service and I wish you luck in your education endeavors.
CLEPS Passed: 10 DSST Passed: 11 TECEPS: 1

PrLoko-isms
Don't waste time by trying to save time. The only sure way to complete your degree is to knock out credits quickly and efficiently.

Don't let easiness bite you in the rear. Know your endgame (where you want to be) and plan backward from there. Your education is a means to an end.

Be honest professionally, socially and academically. There are people (especially little ones) who look up to you and they're going by your example.

Be proud. Whether you're an Engineer or Fast Food worker, there is honor and dignity in hard work.

Picking on people weaker than you only proves that you are a weak person.
Reply
#7
Excelsior spells out how the MHA is supposed to be paid. Full MHA is paid only when a person takes a local butt in seat class and takes excelsior online classes full time, otherwise, its 1/2 the national average. Once again, for your own sake, please seek clarification.

Excelsior College | Veterans FAQ
CLEPS Passed: 10 DSST Passed: 11 TECEPS: 1

PrLoko-isms
Don't waste time by trying to save time. The only sure way to complete your degree is to knock out credits quickly and efficiently.

Don't let easiness bite you in the rear. Know your endgame (where you want to be) and plan backward from there. Your education is a means to an end.

Be honest professionally, socially and academically. There are people (especially little ones) who look up to you and they're going by your example.

Be proud. Whether you're an Engineer or Fast Food worker, there is honor and dignity in hard work.

Picking on people weaker than you only proves that you are a weak person.
Reply
#8
I must be being very unclear.

What I originally meant, and thought I'd restated more clearly, was that Excelsior reports their *exams* as *distance courses*. So if you take a full course load of just exams, you get online-rate MHA. (This is in contrast with other methods of testing - like CLEP or DSST - which count as credit but do not count toward your status as a full or part-time student when using the GI Bill. You could earn 50 credits from CLEP in a week and as far as the GI Bill is concerned you didn't do anything.)

Then, if you *also* take an *in-person, butt in seat, brick and mortar* class at the *same time* that you're taking the exams (and assuming that you've gone through the whole approval process with Excelsior advisors, etc.), *then* you can get the full MHA rate according to where you take your local class.

Therefore, by taking at least one *actual B&M class* in a semester, plus 3-4 Excelsior exams, you would get paid the same as if you were taking 4-5 actual classes (combination of B&M and online). I was excited about this when I first found out, as I find exams to be much less work and much less time consuming than online classes, which is important for me since I work full time and have other commitments.

I'm not sure how that got misconstrued as "Excelsior is telling the VA that exams are in-person classes". They aren't. That's not what I meant, and I don't think that's what I said. As far as I'm aware, Excelsior doesn't actually offer *any* on-campus courses - so the only classes that Excelsior has are online ones, so if I referred to their classes generically, that's what I meant.

I've been active duty, veteran, national guard, and DA civilian, with combined experience of about a decade at this point. I think I'm pretty aware of how the system works. I'm just *not* apparently as good at communicating my understanding to others. This is my last attempt - after that, I'm giving up, lol.
DSST | Astronomy - 68 | Anthropology - 73 | HTYH - 450 | Intro to Comp. - 454 | Religions - 459 | Lifespan Dev. - 419 | Counseling - 409 | Substance Abuse - 456 | Geography - 463 | Environment & Humanity - 463 | CLEP | A & I Lit - 75 | Humanities - 57 | Psych - 64 | Western Civ I - 57 | College Comp. - 65 | College Math - 61 | Ed. Psych - 65 | US History I - 68 | Soc Sci & History - 69 | Western Civ II - 53 | US History II - 61 | UExcel | College Writing - A | Social Psych - B | Abnormal Psych - B | Cultural Div. - B | Juvenile Delinquency - B | World Pop. - A | Psych of Adulthood & Aging - A | Straighterline | Intro to Philosophy - 75% | American Gov. - 89% | Macroecon | Microecon | Bus. Communication | Bus. Ethics | Cultural Anth. - 96% |

AAS in Intelligence Operations Studies - Graduated 2015!
BA in Social Sciences & Humanities from TESU - in progress

186 credits and counting...
Reply
#9
Leherself Wrote:I must be being very unclear.

What I originally meant, and thought I'd restated more clearly, was that Excelsior reports their *exams* as *distance courses*. So if you take a full course load of just exams, you get online-rate MHA. (This is in contrast with other methods of testing - like CLEP or DSST - which count as credit but do not count toward your status as a full or part-time student when using the GI Bill. You could earn 50 credits from CLEP in a week and as far as the GI Bill is concerned you didn't do anything.)

Then, if you *also* take an *in-person, butt in seat, brick and mortar* class at the *same time* that you're taking the exams (and assuming that you've gone through the whole approval process with Excelsior advisors, etc.), *then* you can get the full MHA rate according to where you take your local class.

Therefore, by taking at least one *actual B&M class* in a semester, plus 3-4 Excelsior exams, you would get paid the same as if you were taking 4-5 actual classes (combination of B&M and online). I was excited about this when I first found out, as I find exams to be much less work and much less time consuming than online classes, which is important for me since I work full time and have other commitments.

I'm not sure how that got misconstrued as "Excelsior is telling the VA that exams are in-person classes". They aren't. That's not what I meant, and I don't think that's what I said. As far as I'm aware, Excelsior doesn't actually offer *any* on-campus courses - so the only classes that Excelsior has are online ones, so if I referred to their classes generically, that's what I meant.

I've been active duty, veteran, national guard, and DA civilian, with combined experience of about a decade at this point. I think I'm pretty aware of how the system works. I'm just *not* apparently as good at communicating my understanding to others. This is my last attempt - after that, I'm giving up, lol.

I don't think it will work. Just check with the VA, you don't want them trying to collect their money back.
A.A.S. IN RESPIRATORY CARE (LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE): 2007
A.A. IN SOCIAL SCIENCE (LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE): 2015
B.S.A.S.T IN RESPIRATORY CARE (TESC) 2015
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#10
Leherself Wrote:I must be being very unclear.

What I originally meant, and thought I'd restated more clearly, was that Excelsior reports their *exams* as *distance courses*. So if you take a full course load of just exams, you get online-rate MHA. (This is in contrast with other methods of testing - like CLEP or DSST - which count as credit but do not count toward your status as a full or part-time student when using the GI Bill. You could earn 50 credits from CLEP in a week and as far as the GI Bill is concerned you didn't do anything.)

Then, if you *also* take an *in-person, butt in seat, brick and mortar* class at the *same time* that you're taking the exams (and assuming that you've gone through the whole approval process with Excelsior advisors, etc.), *then* you can get the full MHA rate according to where you take your local class.

Therefore, by taking at least one *actual B&M class* in a semester, plus 3-4 Excelsior exams, you would get paid the same as if you were taking 4-5 actual classes (combination of B&M and online). I was excited about this when I first found out, as I find exams to be much less work and much less time consuming than online classes, which is important for me since I work full time and have other commitments.

I'm not sure how that got misconstrued as "Excelsior is telling the VA that exams are in-person classes". They aren't. That's not what I meant, and I don't think that's what I said. As far as I'm aware, Excelsior doesn't actually offer *any* on-campus courses - so the only classes that Excelsior has are online ones, so if I referred to their classes generically, that's what I meant.

I've been active duty, veteran, national guard, and DA civilian, with combined experience of about a decade at this point. I think I'm pretty aware of how the system works. I'm just *not* apparently as good at communicating my understanding to others. This is my last attempt - after that, I'm giving up, lol.

This post I can agree with. It is well known that the VA will pay full MHA for a full semester course load with AT LEAST one butt in seat class as you stated. The way your original post construed made it sound as if VA was treating EC exams as butt in seat classes. The main reason this interpretation was extrapolated by me, was your mention of your local MHA rate and that you are receiving $2K per month without you making reference of taking ANY in-person courses.

I now understand that you were merely trying to convey that EC exams can be used to gain FT status with the VA. I want to re-iterate again, I was just trying to look out for you and any lurker who may come on this site and see your OP as, hey, EC exams will get you full MHA.

I always try to look out for fellow vets. I'm feeling a little extra emotional about it today because I saw a hearse on the highway with a US Flag draped coffin inside. Again, I wish you the best in your education. Thanks for clarifying, and please continue to share new info and ideas.
CLEPS Passed: 10 DSST Passed: 11 TECEPS: 1

PrLoko-isms
Don't waste time by trying to save time. The only sure way to complete your degree is to knock out credits quickly and efficiently.

Don't let easiness bite you in the rear. Know your endgame (where you want to be) and plan backward from there. Your education is a means to an end.

Be honest professionally, socially and academically. There are people (especially little ones) who look up to you and they're going by your example.

Be proud. Whether you're an Engineer or Fast Food worker, there is honor and dignity in hard work.

Picking on people weaker than you only proves that you are a weak person.
Reply


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