VA Enrollment Information

Full-Time Status Requirements

(Non-Chapter 33 training time is reported to VA based on VA guidelines. For specific information, contact the appropriate School Certifying Official.)

Fall/Spring– 12 hours
Summer– 9 hours
Interterms– 3 hours

Fall/Spring– 9 hours
Summer– 6 hours
Interterms– 3 hours

M.S. in Data Science
Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer– 9 hours

Eh.D. (Counseling and Dispute Resolution only):
Fall/Spring/Summer– 9 hours
Jan Term/ May Term– 3 hours

Law (Professional):
Fall/Spring/Summer– 9 hours
May Term– 3 hours

Law (Masters):

Fall/Spring/Summer– 8 hours
May Term– 3 hours

Less than Full-Time Status

Chapter 30, 35, 1606

If you enroll less than half-time, your education benefit rates will be reduced proportionality and paid as a lump sum. You would receive reimbursement of the actual charges for tuition and fees or the established maximum, whichever is less. See VA’s rate tables for more information.

Chapter 33

You must be registered for at least one credit more than half-time in order to receive your Monthly Housing Allowance (e.g. 7-11 undergraduate or 5-8 graduate credits). Your MHA will be based on the prorated monthly rate of payment. If you are enrolled half-time or less, you are not eligible to receive a MHA.

Non-Standard Term Enrollment

SMU has many shorter session summer terms in addition to its standard summer term. If you plan to take classes during the shorter summer sessions, your full-time status will be different and your benefits will vary based on your program, the number of credits you take, and the length of your classes. Please contact one of the VA Certifying Officials with questions about non-standard enrollment.

Course Applicability

Only courses that meet degree requirements can be certified for VA purposes. If you enroll in a course that does not fulfill a degree requirement, the course and its corresponding tuition and fees will not be certified to VA. Excessive free electives, for example, cannot be certified. Audited courses cannot be certified.

Repeating Courses

If you withdraw or do not receive a passing grade, the VA will pay for you to repeat the course until you receive a passing grade. If you pass a course but want to try for a better grade (example: you received a C but you want to get an A), the VA will not pay for you to repeat it. However, VA will pay for repeats if a course requires a minimum grade to meet a requirement and that minimum grade was not met.

Major Declaration

Students cannot be certified beyond their sophomore year unless a major is declared. Only UC-required courses can be certified prior to the declaration of a major.

Rounding Out

You may round out a schedule with non-required courses to bring your course load up to full-time in your last term only. This allows you to receive benefits at the full-time rate even though fewer credits are required to complete the program. In rounding out, you can use any credit hour subject, including a subject that has been successfully completed. This procedure can only be done once per program.

Study Abroad

VA will only pay educational fees for a study abroad program if you are required to study abroad as part of that program. VA will never pay for airfare, travel, or boarding costs. If you want to study abroad, but it is not required by your program, your benefits will pay up to the equivalent cost of taking those courses on campus.

Supplemental and Concurrent Enrollments

VA can pay benefits for courses taken at other institutions as long as the courses apply to your degree. Approval to take coursework elsewhere must be obtained before our office will supply a Primary School Letter to the other institution’s School Certifying Official. To obtain approval, you must complete a Petition for Advanced Approval of Transfer Work. Please contact a VA Certifying Official for more information.


If you drop a course or withdraw from the university, notify us immediately. All changes to enrollment must be reported to VA in a timely manner. You will be responsible for paying back any debt associated with the drop/withdrawal to VA. Please see VA debt for additional information about VA debt and repayment.


Students are able to drop courses online via their Student Center in my.SMU by the published deadline. Deadlines are found on the University's Academic Calendar.

Effective fall 2017, SMU students are allowed to drop a course after the 5th class day up through the 10th class day. During that time, the dropped course will be removed from the transcript; however, tuition charges will remain the same. VA certification with tuition and fees occurs after the 10th class day and SMU only reports degree-required courses that appear on the transcript and the corresponding tuition/fees only. Therefore, if you drop a course between the 5th and 10th class day, students using VA benefits may incur a tuition charge that is not covered by VA. It is in your best interest to simply adhere to the add/drop deadline of the 5th class day, to avoid incurring personal charges.


Students desiring to withdraw from the University must initiate a Student Petition for Withdrawal / Cancellation form (visit academic school of record office for form), secure approval from their academic dean, then the academic dean submits the form to the University Registrar. The effective date of the withdrawal is the date the Student Petition for Withdrawal is processed in the University Registrar’s Office. Discontinuance of class attendance or notification to the instructors of intention to withdraw does not constitute an official withdrawal. Students who reside in University housing must secure clearance from the Office of Residence Life and Student Housing.

Medical withdrawals provide a pro rata refund of tuition and fees, and have conditions that must be met prior to re-enrollment at SMU. Medical withdrawals can only be authorized by a licensed physician or psychologist/ counselor in the SMU Health Center. The University does not grant retroactive medical withdrawals. The last day a student can request a medical withdrawal is the last day of class instruction of the semester/term the student is requesting to withdraw from. Withdrawing students living in SMU housing must check out of the residence halls with Residence Life and Student Housing per established procedures. Contact the SMU Health Center for specific information regarding medical withdrawals.

Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating circumstances are circumstances beyond the student’s control that prevent the student from continuing in school or that cause the student to reduce credits. VA will reduce benefits effective the first day of the term unless mitigating circumstances are found. You must provide documentation to our office in order for us to report mitigating circumstances to VA.

Examples are:

  • An illness or death in the student’s immediate family.

  • An illness or injury afflicting the student during the enrollment period.

  • An unavoidable change in the student’s conditions of employment.

  • An unavoidable geographical transfer resulting from the student’s employment.

  • Immediate family or financial obligations beyond the control of the claimant that require him or her to suspend pursuit of the program of education to obtain employment.

  • Discontinuance of the course by the school.

  • Unanticipated active military service, including active duty for training.

  • Unanticipated difficulties with childcare arrangements the student has made for the period during which he or she is attending classes.

If mitigating circumstances are needed and adequate evidence of mitigating circumstances isn’t received, VA will not pay for the course(s) in question.

Grade of F

If you receive a grade of F, our office will determine whether or not you received the F due to non-attendance. Grades of F due to non-attendance must be reported to VA and may result in the creation of a debt with VA.

Academic Probation/Suspension

VA uses the same progress standards as Southern Methodist University. If your low grades lead to an academic probation or suspension, it will be reported to the VA.

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