Earning & Learning

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News March 2014

The VA Work-Study Allowance program allows students to "earn while they learn."

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Question: I’m a recently discharged and disabled veteran planning to attend school. Is there a program that can boost my income while I’m going to school, along with helping other veterans?

Answer: Veterans enrolled full- or ¾-time and studying a Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) accredited college degree program or in a professional or vocational program, can “earn while they learn” by participating in the VA Work-Study Allowance program. 

Eligibility Requirements

The VA Work-Study Allowance program is available to veterans training in the following programs:

-    Montgomery GI Bill -— Active Duty (38 U.S.C. Chapter 30)

-    Montgomery GI Bill — Selected Reserve (10 U.S.C. Chapter 1606)

-    Post 9/11 GI Bill (38 U.S.C. Chapter 33)

-    Veterans participating in Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)

-    Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Educational Assistance Program (38 U.S.C. Chapter 32)

-    National Call to Service Participants

-    Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program —(38 U.S.C. Chapter 31)

-    Dependents Educational Assistance Program (38 U.S.C. Chapter 35)

The VA will select students for the Work-Study Allowance based on various factors, including:

-    Ability of veterans to complete their work-study contracts before the ending date of their eligibility to education benefits

-    Veterans’ disabilities

-    Availability to work a VA-assigned job within normal commuting distance

-    Percentage of VA disability. The VA will award priority to veterans who have service-connected disabilities rated at 30% or higher for work-study allowance positions.

-    The number of veterans chosen will depend on availability of VA-related work at VA facilities locally or at attending colleges.

** Veterans who are enrolled in a veterans retraining assistance program (VRAP) aren’t eligible for the VA Work-Study Program.

How Much Can Vets Earn?

Veterans earn their state’s minimum wage or what is equal to the federal minimum wage, whichever one proves greater.

If a vet is working in a work-study program at a university or college, the school can pay the difference between amounts the VA pays and the amount the schools pay their work-study students performing the same job. 

Veterans can elect to receive advance payments for 40% of the number of hours in their work study, or for 50 hours, whichever proves less.  Veterans must keep in mind that the 50 hours advance pay they receive must be worked off before another VA paycheck can be issued.

This means if veterans receive an advance payment, they’ll have to work 100 hours before they receive another VA work-study paycheck.

There are options available with the program of working between or during one’s enrollment. Veterans will not be allowed to work 25 times the number of weeks in an enrollment period. This will ensure that one isn’t overwhelming himself or herself with work and school assignments.

What Type of Work is Available in the Program?

Veterans can perform the following types of VA-related jobs:

-    VA Medical Centers (Paperwork, patient transport, volunteer services, etc.)

-    VA Cemeteries (Paperwork, telephone work, etc.)

-    VA Outreach Clinic (Paperwork, telephone work, etc.)

-    VA sponsored college programs (Working with VA advisors, veterans service coordinators, etc.)

-    Department of Defense facilities (MGIB-SR or REAP recipients only)

How to Apply   

Apply by completing VA Form 22-8691 (Application for Work-Study Allowance).

For information and forms, veterans can contact one or more of the following offices for assistance:

-    Local VA regional office

-    Local veteran centers

-    Local Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) service officers

-    Incentive officers and reserve education officers

For more information, contact your local PVA National Service Officer.


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