RD268 - 2012 Annual Report on the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program

Executive Summary:

Under the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP), tuition and required fees are waived at Virginia public colleges and universities for the qualified survivors and dependents of certain military service members. Through the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Fund (VMSDEF), a stipend is provided to offset the costs of room, board, books, and supplies. The amount of the stipend is determined by the Virginia General Assembly, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), and the availability of Commonwealth general funds.

A qualified survivor and dependent is defined as the spouse, or child between the ages of 16 and 29, of a military service member who, while serving as an active duty member in the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserves, the Virginia National Guard, or Virginia National Guard Reserve, during military operations against terrorism, on a peacekeeping mission, as a result of a terrorist act, or in any armed conflict subsequent to December 6, 1941, was killed or is missing in action or is a prisoner of war, or of a veteran who, due to such service, has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as totally and permanently disabled or at least 90 percent disabled, and has been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. Domiciliary requirements also apply and are detailed in the Code of Virginia.

As required by the Code, the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services must report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly on the agency’s policies and strategies relating to dissemination of information about the Program. The report must include the number of current beneficiaries, the educational institutions attended by beneficiaries, and the completion rate of the beneficiaries.

Information Dissemination

As in the past, DVS continued to review all new rating decisions for Virginia veterans promulgated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) Roanoke Regional Office. In Fiscal Year 2012, approximately 1,522 veterans were identified whose period of service and level of disability met VMSDEP requirements, making their spouse and qualifying children potentially eligible for VMSDEP and VMSDEF benefits. DVS has notified the veterans and offered assistance with the VMSDEP application process.

Current Beneficiaries and Institutions Attended

A total of 994 unique students used VMSDEP benefits during the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters. This represents a 2.7 percent increase over the number of unique students using VMSDEP benefits in 2010-11. Of these 1,004 students, 399 (40 percent) attended a four-year institution, while 605 (60 percent) attended a two-year college or community college.

Of the four-year institutions, Old Dominion University had the highest participation (83 students), followed by Virginia Commonwealth University with 64 students. Tidewater Community College led all schools with 187 students. Thomas Nelson Community College was second among community colleges with 50 students.

Eighteen students used VMSDEP benefits during the 2011 Summer session. Nine attended Old Dominion University, five attended Norfolk State University, and the remaining students attended James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Radford University, and Virginia Tech.

Detailed information is presented in Appendix A. A comparison of participants during 2010-11 and 2011-12 is presented in Appendix B.

Completion Rates

The Department of Veterans Services continues to work with the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) to track each student’s eligibility and use of benefits. Students, as well as institutions, are advised accordingly. DVS continues to provide SCHEV with updated eligibility reports