U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - 810 Vermont Avenue, NW - Washington, DC 20420January 18, 2013
The following information must be submitted by Veterans, Servicepersons, Reservists, and Eligible Dependents to assist VA to evaluate their intended program of education.
NOTE: Independent study (distance learning) courses must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting association. In the alternative, the course may be approved under the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program.
This document provides general information about the approval of programs of education at foreign schools. It also provides specific information for veterans, servicepersons, reservists, and eligible dependents who are planning to pursue training at a foreign school.
IMPORTANT: If the program of education you intend to pursue has not yet been approved for VA benefits, you should contact an official from the foreign school and request they apply for approval. Only an official of the foreign school may apply for approval of a program; you cannot submit the request on the school’s behalf.
IMPORTANT: If your program of education has not already been approved, you may experience delays while VA evaluates whether your program can be approved for VA benefits. If approval of your program of education is denied by VA, you will still be responsible to your school for all charges, including tuition and fees.
If you are training in Puerto Rico or the U. S. Virgin Islands, your claim will be handled by the Atlanta Regional Processing Office (in Decatur, Georgia).
If you are training in the Republic of the Philippines, American Samoa, Guam, Midway, Wake Island, any of the islands in the Federated States of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau, your claim will be handled by the Muskogee Regional Processing Office.
If you are training in any other foreign country or area, your claim will be handled by the Buffalo Regional Processing Office.
Normally, foreign schools certify their students for the complete academic year. If you plan to attend a foreign school for more than one year, within 120 days of your reenrollment you should notify the school of your intention to reenroll and have the appropriate certifying official submit an enrollment certification for your reenrollment. If your school does not have a supply of the enrollment certifications, the school should request a supply of forms from the Buffalo Regional Office and they will be mailed directly to the school. You should keep the school advised of your plans for continuing enrollment in order to avoid any delay in receiving your benefits.
Information concerning the approval status of a program at a foreign school may be obtained by contacting VA using the Submit A Question section of our website.
Written requests for information should be submitted to:Foreign School Approval Group (22-ESU)
When submitting an inquiry or application, you should clearly indicate your school and your planned program of education as precisely as possible. VA will then advise you of the program’s approval status and thus enable you to contact your school without undue delay to initiate any approval procedures that may be necessary.
The law provides that VA beneficiaries may not pursue programs of education at schools outside of the United States unless they are pursuing approved programs leading to a standard college degree, or the equivalent, at approved institutions of higher learning. The only exception is for persons eligible for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35) who may receive VA benefits while pursuing approved postsecondary non-college degree programs at training establishments in the Philippines.
The term “institution of higher learning” means a college or university offering programs of instruction leading to an associate degree or higher, or its equivalent. The programs must be recognized as being comparable to a degree granted by accredited U. S. colleges and universities. VA will accept degrees granted by public colleges and universities in foreign countries as being comparable to degrees granted by accredited U. S. colleges and universities. Degrees, or their equivalent, granted by private colleges and universities in foreign countries must be comparable to degrees granted by public colleges and universities in the same country. Degree or equivalent programs must have the same entrance requirements as the degree programs offered by public colleges and universities in the same country.
Programs offered by schools in the Philippines are subject to approval by the Director of the Manila Regional Office. Programs offered by all other foreign schools are subject to approval by the Director of the Buffalo Regional Office. If a veteran, serviceperson, reservist, or eligible dependent wishes to enroll in a program of education that has not already been approved, he or she should ask the school to request approval of the program he or she intends to pursue. VA can take no action until a request for approval is received from a school official
IMPORTANT: Some schools located in the United States offer courses in a foreign country under contract with the Department of Defense. These courses are not considered foreign training. Similarly, “Junior Year Abroad” programs and similar programs offered by schools in the United States are not considered foreign training.
For applications and further information, the following offices or representatives will be glad to assist you:
Within all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, call VA’s customer service toll-free for information about education benefits: 1-888-GI BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). For toll-free TDD service, call 1-800-829-4833. For information about all other VA benefits, call toll-free 1-800-827-1000.
You may send us an email inquiry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by using the Submit A Question section of our website. You will generally receive a response within 3 to 5 business days.
During business hours, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, Students and School Certifying Officials calling from outside the United States may call the Buffalo Regional Office at 716-857-3196 or 716-857-3197. Once connected, the caller can immediately enter "option 1" to be placed in a special priority queue. This is not a toll-free number but the caller will be routed to the next available Customer Service Representative for priority service.