The Virginia Commissioned Officer Tuition and Fee Waiver (VACO), established in Title 23.1 of the Code of Virginia, provides commissioned officers of the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force a waiver of tuition and mandatory fees at any Virginia public institution of higher education for a period of ten (10) months for soldiers enrolled in programs of "[...] military science, emergency management, emergency services, public safety, and disaster management." Please see Code of Virginia for specific provisions.
Any Virginia public institution of higher education waives required tuition and mandatory fees1 for commissioned officers enrolled in an eligible program for a period not to exceed ten (10) months. Tuition and mandatory fees exclude housing, dining, books, supplies, and other additional charge categories.2
1 Tuition and Fees: Waiver applies to tuition and mandatory fees. The waiver excludes additional charge categories such as Housing and Dining. See more tuition and fees information at https://sfs.virginia.edu/tuition-billing/tuition-fees.
2 Other Charges: Housing, meals/dining, books, and supplies will not be waived. See more Other Charge Category and tuition and fees information at https://sfs.virginia.edu/tuition-billing/tuition-fees.
- Must be enrolled in an eligible program.
- Must be a commissioned officer in the VA National Guard or Virginia Defense Force.
- Must remain in a verified commissioned status for the 10-month period in which the waiver may apply.
- Eligible Programs: Eligible academic programs includes instruction in the departments of military science, emergency management, emergency services, public safety, and disaster management. Qualifying programs are determined by the institution.
- Waiver Period: Tuition and mandatory fees may be waived for a period not to exceed ten (10) months. The waiver remains effective during the 10-month enrollment period that the student is active. Ten (10) months generally covers a standard fall and spring term (and J-Term depending on the program and whether the student enrolls in the 2-week program while they're covered under the waiver). Waiver benefits apply to the full term and covers a full standard term regardless of the individual course dates.
Commissioned Officers are eligible for the waiver under the following conditions:
- Verify Academic Program: Prospective student soldiers need to verify with their admissions office at the school of enrollment whether their program is eligible according to the statute conditions. See above for eligible academic programs.
- Apply for the Academic Program: If the program is eligible, prospective student soldiers must meet standard admissions requirements for the program.
- Obtain Waiver Verification: Prospective student soldiers ask their commanding officer to complete the VACO waiver verification form. This form is used to validate the prospective student soldier's commissioned status and dates. The commissioned dates must cover the ten (10) month period of the program for the waiver to apply to all months.
- This form validates commissioned status and dates with VA National Guard or Defense Force through the ten (10) month period of the eligible academic program.
- Submit Waiver Documentation: If the prospective student soldier meets the eligibility criteria outlined above, submit completed waiver to SFS by email to [email protected]. Once received, we will review and follow up with an update within 5-15 business days of receipt.
Provided all eligibility requirements are met, SFS will apply the tuition and fee waiver to the student account. The waiver remains effective during the ten (10) month enrollment period that the student is active.
Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence must submit a new VACO waiver verification form to verify their commissioned status and dates of commission before the waiver is applied.
If my commissioned status is less than ten (10) months, how is that handled?
If your commissioned status remains active after the start of the term, you remain eligible for the waiver. For example, a term starts on 8/25, your commissioned status remains active through 8/26, you would receive the wavier benefit for that term. Subsequent terms would no longer be eligible for the waiver.
Will the waiver impact my financial aid?
As a state benefit, VACO will be included as a financial resource in your financial aid offer and may reduce state grants, University grants, federal loans and work study, and private loans. Each financial aid offer type is different, so the benefit may affect each person's offer differently.
Can the waiver be applied to a previous term?
UVA does not apply waivers retroactively. Eligible waivers are applied to current and/or future term(s).
What happens if I drop a course, withdraw, or take a leave of absence?
If a student withdraws during a term, the waiver will remain effective for that period. Waivers are not prorated. The waiver is considered "used" for that term. They may use the remaining months of their waiver eligibility for future terms provided they remain commissioned. If a student leaves for a term (leave of absence), they may return to utilize the remaining months of the waiver benefit provided they remain in an eligible commissioned status.
- For questions related to the waiver process, please contact Student Financial Services at [email protected].
- For questions related to commissioned status and other military benefits, please contact the Virginia Department of Military Affairs at [email protected].