VA Course Withdrawal Policy

This policy applies to any student utilizing the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) educational assistance benefits at Thomas Edison State University.  If a student withdraws from a course, the date of the student’s last participation in the course is the effective withdraw date.  If a student is administratively withdrawn or stops attending without officially withdrawing (i.e. lack of participation and progress), the date of last participation in the course is the effective withdraw date and will be reported to the VA by the school certifying official (SCO).  Following are some of the methods used to determine the last actual date of participation: attendance records, grading reports, last date posting an assignment on a discussion board, last date on which examinations or other assignments are posted, and the last day of activity according to assigned mentor’s records.  If a student completes the term with an “-F-” and/or a non-punitive grade (i.e. “-W-”), the SCO must determine and report the actual last date of participation for each course and, if required, terminate the student for unsatisfactory progress.

If a student withdraws after the University’s drop period and a non-punitive grade is assigned, mitigating circumstances are an issue.  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.  Examples of mitigating circumstances include:  illness or death in the student’s immediate family, illness or injury afflicting the student during the enrollment period, an unavoidable change in the students conditions of employment, and 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, and unanticipated difficulties with childcare arrangements the student has made for the period during which he or she is attending classes.  The student must provide the SCO documentation of mitigating circumstances and it must be retained with the student’s file.  If mitigating circumstances are needed and adequate evidence is not received, the VA will not pay for the course (s) in question.  If the student has already been paid for the course (s) the VA will create an overpayment and will recoup the money from the student for the entire term.

The VA automatically grants mitigating circumstances for up to 6 credits the first time a student withdraws and mitigating circumstances must be considered.  This automatic grant is called the 6-Credit Hour Exclusion.  The exclusion is a one-time grant made the first time mitigating circumstances must be considered for the student.  Up to 6 credits can be excluded if the student has been awarded benefits for the credit.  The 6-Credit Hour Exclusion cannot be granted if the student completes the term and receives non-punitive grades.

Note: Please keep in mind that regardless of whether or not a student withdraws based on mitigating circumstances, the VA will only pay benefits based on the pro-rated number of days the student was enrolled in the course up to 60% of the term. The VA will typically pay for the entire term if 60% or more of the term was completed. For example, if a student withdraws on day 40 of an undergraduate term at TESU, the VA will pay benefits for 40/83 days or about 48% of the benefits. Depending on which chapter a student is using, withdrawing from a course usually causes a balance due to the University for the student since the VA doesn’t cover 100% when the withdrawal occurs before the 60% point in the term.