As the result of advocacy efforts by NACUBO and several other higher education associations, on March 18, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will extend its 85/15 reporting deadline through June 30, 2022, to provide institutions additional time to submit enrollment ratios, a new requirement for many schools.
The 85/15 rule states that no more than 85 percent of students enrolled in a program can be “supported”—by receiving payments from VA or having tuition, fees, or other charges paid by the institution. A recent policy reset by the VA has resulted in all institutions being required to submit their 85/15 ratios.
A coalition of higher education associations including NACUBO met regularly with the VA to share concerns from schools about their challenges navigating VA’s reporting requirements.
Between now and June 30, the VA plans to review all of its training materials—websites, the School Certifying Official (SCO) Handbook, and others—on 85/15 reporting and make sure they are up to date to reflect the reporting extension and clarifications. The VA plans to include several FAQs to assist institutions in their reporting and will produce new online training sessions for school certifying officials (SCOs).
Additionally, the VA has addressed the higher education community’s concerns with the physical form SCOs need to complete to submit the 85/15 data to the agency. The VA’s first version of the form required institutions to manually enter—or copy and paste—data into a PDF. Institutions will now be able to complete part of the report utilizing spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel. Instructions for institutions are provided in the VA’s announcement.
While these changes are welcomed, NACUBO and several higher education associations will continue to ask the VA for relief regarding the reset to its 35-percent exemption policy. The reset requires institutions to provide 85/15 calculations every two years, even if the institution meets the 35-percent exemption.
The 85/15 rule is designed to ensure that a minimum number of students, who are not receiving VA funds, are willing to pay for the full cost of a program. The rule does this by prohibiting the payment of VA benefits to students enrolling in a program when more than 85 percent of the students enrolled in that program are having any portion of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid for them by their institution or the VA. If the ratio of supported students to non-supported students exceeds 85 percent, only students maintaining continuous enrollment may receive benefits for that program.