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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility Professional Scholarship Program
Source: 78 FR 51071, Aug. 20, 2013, unless otherwise noted.
The purpose of §§17.625 through 17.636 is to establish the requirements for the award of scholarships under the Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility Professional Scholarship Program (VIOMPSP) to students pursuing a program of study leading to a degree in visual impairment or orientation and mobility. The scholarship is designed to increase the supply of qualified Blind Rehabilitation Specialists and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists available to VA. The scholarship will be publicized throughout educational institutions in the United States, with an emphasis on disseminating information to such institutions with high numbers of Hispanic students and to historically black colleges and universities.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7501)
For the definitions that apply to §§17.625 through 17.636, see §17.601.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501)
§17.627 Eligibility for the VIOMPSP.
(a) General. To be eligible for the VIOMPSP, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
(1) Be unconditionally accepted for enrollment or currently enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree in orientation and mobility, low vision therapy, or vision rehabilitation therapy, or a dual degree (a program in which an individual becomes certified in two of the three professional certifications offered by the Academy for Certification of Visual Rehabilitation and Education Professionals) at an accredited educational institution that is in a State;
(2) Be a citizen of the United States; and
(3) Submit an application to participate in the VIOMPSP, as described in §17.629.
(b) Obligated service to another entity. Any applicant who, at the time of application, owes a service obligation to any other entity to perform service after completion of the course of study is ineligible to receive a VIOMPSP scholarship.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7501(a), 7502(a), 7504(3))
§17.628 Availability of VIOMPSP scholarships.
VA will make awards under the VIOMPSP only when VA determines it is necessary to assist in alleviating shortages or anticipated shortages of personnel in visual impairment or orientation and mobility programs. VA's determination of the number of VIOMPSP scholarships to be awarded in a fiscal year, and the number that will be awarded to full-time and/or part-time students, is subject to the availability of appropriations.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7501(a), 7503(c)(2))
§17.629 Application for the VIOMPSP.
(a) Application-general. Each individual desiring a VIOMPSP scholarship must submit an accurate and complete application, including a signed written acceptance agreement.
(b) VA's duties. VA will notify applicants prior to acceptance in the VIOMPSP of the following information:
(1) A fair summary of the rights and liabilities of an individual whose application is approved by VA and whose acceptance agreement is consummated by VA; and
(2) Full description of the terms and conditions that apply to participation in the VIOMPSP and service in VA.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a), 7502(a)(2))
(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements in this section under control number 2900-0793.)
§17.630 Selection of VIOMPSP participants.
(a) General. In deciding which VIOMPSP applications to approve, VA will first consider applications submitted by applicants entering their final year of education or training. Applicants will be evaluated and selected using the criteria specified in paragraph (b) of this section. If there are a larger number of equally qualified applicants than there are awards to be made, then VA will first select veterans, and then use a random method as the basis for further selection.
(b) Selection criteria. In evaluating and selecting participants, VA will take into consideration those factors determined necessary to assure effective participation in the VIOMPSP. These factors will include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Academic performance;
(2) Work/volunteer experience, including prior rehabilitation or health care employment and VA employment;
(3) Faculty and employer recommendations; or
(4) Career goals.
(c) Notification of approval. VA will notify the individual in writing that his or her application has been accepted and approved. An individual becomes a participant in the program upon receipt of such approval by VA.
(d) Duration of VIOMPSP award. VA will award a VIOMPSP scholarship for a period of time equal to the number of years required to complete a program of study leading to a degree in orientation and mobility, low vision therapy, or vision rehabilitation therapy, or a dual degree. The number of years covered by an individual scholarship award will be based on the number of school years that the participant has yet to complete his or her degree at the time the VIOMPSP scholarship is awarded. Subject to the availability of funds, VA will award the VIOMPSP as follows:
(1) Full-time scholarship. A full-time scholarship is awarded for a minimum of 1 school year to a maximum of 4 school years;
(2) Part-time scholarships. A part-time scholarship is awarded for a minimum of 1 school year to a maximum of 6 school years.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7504(3))
§17.631 Award procedures.
(a) Amount of scholarship. (1) A VIOMPSP scholarship award will not exceed the total tuition and required fees for the program of study in which the applicant is enrolled. All such payments to scholarship participants are exempt from Federal taxation.
(2) The total amount of assistance provided under the VIOMPSP for an academic year to an individual who is a full-time student may not exceed $15,000.00.
(3) The total amount of assistance provided under the VIOMPSP for an academic year to a participant who is a part-time student shall bear the same ratio to the amount that would be paid under paragraph (a)(2) of this section if the participant were a full-time student as the coursework carried by the participant to full-time coursework.
(4) The total amount of assistance provided to an individual may not exceed $45,000.00.
(5) In the case of an individual enrolled in a program of study leading to a dual degree described in §17.627(a)(1), such tuition and fees will not exceed the amounts necessary for the minimum number of credit hours to achieve such dual degree.
(6) Financial assistance may be provided to an individual under the VIOMPSP to supplement other educational assistance to the extent that the total amount of educational assistance received by the individual during an academic year does not exceed the total tuition and fees for such academic year.
(7) VA will make arrangements with the school in which the participant is enrolled to issue direct payment for the amount of tuition or fees on behalf of the participant.
(b) Repeated course work. Additional costs relating to the repeated course work will not be paid under this program. VA will resume any scholarship payments suspended under this section upon notification by the school that the participant has returned from the leave-of-absence or has satisfactorily completed the repeated course work and is pursuing the course of study for which the VIOMPSP was awarded.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7503, 7504(3))
§17.632 Obligated service.
(a) General provision. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, each participant is obligated to provide service as a full-time clinical VA employee in the rehabilitation practice of the participant's discipline in an assignment or location determined by VA.
(b) Beginning of service. A participant's obligated service will begin on the date on which the participant obtains any required applicable credentials and when appointed as a full-time clinical VA employee in a position for which the degree prepared the participant. VA will appoint the participant to such position as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days after the date that the participant receives his or her degree, or the date the participant obtains any required applicable credentials, whichever is later. If a participant fails to obtain his or her degree, or fails to obtain any required applicable credentials within 180 days after receiving the degree, the participant is considered to be in breach of the acceptance agreement.
(c) Duration of service. The participant will agree to serve as a full-time clinical VA employee for 3 calendar years which must be completed no later than 6 years after the participant has completed the program for which the scholarship was awarded and received a degree referenced in §17.627(a)(1).
(d) Location and assignment of obligated service. VA reserves the right to make final decisions on the location and assignment of the obligated service. A participant who receives a scholarship must agree as part of the participant's mobility agreement that he or she is willing to accept the location and assignment where VA assigns the obligated service. Geographic relocation may be required.
(e) Creditability of advanced clinical training. No period of advanced clinical training will be credited towards satisfying the period of obligated service incurred under the VIOMPSP.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7504(2)(D), 7504(3))
§17.633 Deferment of obligated service.
Deferment of obligated service under the VIOMPSP is treated in the same manner as deferment of obligated service under the HPSP under §17.608.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7504(3))
§17.634 Failure to comply with terms and conditions of participation.
(a) Participant refuses to accept payment of the VIOMPSP. If a participant, other than one described in paragraph (b) of this section, refuses to accept payment or instructs the school not to accept payment of the VIOMPSP scholarship provided by VA, the participant must, in addition to any obligation incurred under the agreement, pay to the United States the amount of $1,500 in liquidated damages. Payment of this amount must be made no later than 90 days from the date that the participant fails to accept payment of the VIOMPSP or instructs the school not to accept payment.
(b) Participant fails to complete course of study or does not obtain certification. A participant described in paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section must, instead of otherwise fulfilling the terms of his or her acceptance agreement, pay to the United States an amount equal to all VIOMPSP funds awarded under the acceptance agreement. Payment of this amount must be made no later than 1 year after the date that the participant meets any of the criteria described in paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section, unless VA determines that a longer period is necessary to avoid hardship. No interest will be charged on any part of this indebtedness. A participant will pay such amount if one of the following criteria is met:
(1) The participant fails to maintain an acceptable level of academic standing;
(2) The participant is dismissed from the school for disciplinary reasons;
(3) The participant, for any reason, voluntarily terminates the course of study or program for which the scholarship was awarded including a reduction of course load from full-time to part-time before completing the course of study or program; or
(4) The participant fails to become certified in the discipline for which the degree prepared the participant, if applicable, no later than 180 days after the date such person becomes eligible to apply for certification.
(c) Participant fails to perform all or any part of their service obligation. (1) Participants who breach their agreements by failing to begin or complete their service obligation, for any reason, including the loss, revocation, suspension, restriction, or limitation of required certification, and other than provided for under paragraph (b) of this section, must repay the portion of all VIOMPSP funds paid to or on behalf of the participant, adjusted for the service that they provided. To calculate the unearned portion of VIOMPSP funds, subtract the number of months of obligated service rendered from the total months of obligated service owed, divide the remaining months by the total obligated service, then multiply by the total amount of VIOMPSP funds paid to or on behalf of the participant. The following formula may be used in determining the unearned portion:
A = P((t-s)/t) in which
“A” is the amount the United States is entitled to recover;
“P” is the amounts paid under the VIOMPSP, to or on behalf of the participant;
“t” is the total number of months in the participant's period of obligated service; and
“s” is the number of months of obligated service rendered.
(2) The amount that the United States is entitled to recover will be paid no later than 1 year after the date the applicant failed to begin or complete the period of obligated service, as determined by VA.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7505(a), 7505(b))
Bankruptcy under the VIOMPSP is treated in the same manner as bankruptcy for the HPSP under §17.611.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7505(c), 7505(d))
§17.636 Cancellation, waiver, or suspension of obligation.
Cancellation, waiver, or suspension procedures under the VIOMPSP are the same as those procedures for the HPSP under §17.612.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7505(c))