California College Fee Waiver Program
Last updated 5/1/2021 at 12:39pm | View PDF
Are you aware of the California College Fee Waiver (CFW) Program, an education benefit available to the spouses and children of U.S. veterans through the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). The Fee Waiver runs through the academic year, beginning with each fall semester. Once eligibility criteria is met, dependents can get their tuition fees waived when attending any California community college, California State University or University of California campus.
So, who is eligible and what are the criteria? The state offers Plans A through D, but we will focus on Plans: A and B.
Plan A: You must be the spouse, registered domestic partner (RDP), child, or unmarried surviving spouse of a wartime veteran who is totally disabled due to a service-related illness or injury or who has died from a service-connected cause, or any dependent of a former POW or veteran who was declared MIA.
Under Plan A, there is no income limit, but the child of a veteran must be between 14 and 27 years of age (up to age 30 if the child is also a veteran). There is no age limit for a spouse or RDP. This benefit is not available to students who are also eligible for Chapter 35 VA benefits, unless the Chapter 35 benefit is waived. Additionally, surviving spouses or RDPs must not have remarried. The veteran's date of death or date of 100% disability rating has to have occurred before the child's 21st birthday.
Plan B: You must be the child of a veteran who has a permanent service-related disability or who had a service-related disability at the time of death, or who died from service-related causes.
Under Plan B, there is no age limit, but the child's income plus the value of parental support must not exceed the federal poverty level of $13,465 (this figure may be adjusted annually). The academic year benefit is based on the previous year's annual income.
This benefit can be used in conjunction with Chapter 35 benefits – wartime service is not a requirement – and the benefit is only available to the children of a veteran. To document the child's income, you may use either a copy of the current year's income tax return (either the 1040 or the 540) or a letter of non-filing provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS usually starts issuing these letters after June 15 of each year. Be advised that without all the requirements, we cannot process the request.
Applications are available here in the office or you can download it from http://www.tchhsa.org/vso and follow the California Fee Waiver link. Once completed, just return the application to us, along with proof of income (if enrolling under Plan B) and proof of your relationship to the veteran (such as a copy of your birth, marriage or domestic partnership certificate). Once the CVSO receives all the required information, a benefit letter will be mailed to you and to the appropriate school within two weeks.
Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at KCruicks@tularehhsa.org.