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e-CFR data is current as of March 3, 2021

Title 38Chapter IPart 17 → Subject Group


Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
PART 17—MEDICAL


VA Health Professional Scholarship Program

Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7601-7619, 7633, 7634, and 7636.

§17.600   Purpose.

The purpose of §§17.600 through 17.612 is to establish the requirements for the award of scholarships under the VA Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) to students pursuing a course of study leading to a degree in certain health care occupations, listed in 38 U.S.C. 7401(1) and (3), to assist in providing an adequate supply of such personnel for VA. The HPSP allows VA to provide scholarship awards to facilitate recruitment and retention of employees in several hard-to-fill health care occupations.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7601(b))

[78 FR 51069, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.601   Definitions.

The following definitions apply to §§17.600 through 17.636:

Acceptable level of academic standing means the level at which a participant may continue to attend school under the standards and practices of the school at which a participant is enrolled in a course of study for which an HPSP or VIOMPSP scholarship was awarded.

Acceptance agreement means a signed legal document between VA and a participant of the HPSP or VIOMPSP that specifies the obligations of VA and the participant upon acceptance to the HPSP or VIOMPSP. An acceptance agreement must incorporate by reference, and cannot be inconsistent with, §§17.600 through 17.612 (for HPSP agreements) or §§17.626 through 17.636 (for VIOMPSP agreements), and must include:

(1) A mobility agreement.

(2) Agreement to accept payment of the scholarship.

(3) Agreement to perform obligated service.

(4) Agreement to maintain enrollment and attendance in the course of study for which the scholarship was awarded, and to maintain an acceptable level of academic standing.

Affiliation agreement means a legal document that enables the clinical education of trainees at a VA or non-VA medical facility. An affiliation agreement is required for all education or training that involves direct patient contact, or contact with patient information, by trainees from a non-VA institution.

Citizen of the United States means any person born, or lawfully naturalized, in the United States, subject to its jurisdiction and protection, and owing allegiance thereto.

Credential means the licensure, registration, certification, required education, relevant training and experience, and current competence necessary to meet VA's qualification standards for employment in certain health care occupations.

Degree represents the successful completion of the course of study for which a scholarship was awarded.

(1) HPSP. For the purposes of the HPSP, VA recognizes the following degrees: a doctor of medicine; doctor of osteopathy; doctor of dentistry; doctor of optometry; doctor of podiatry; or an associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctorate degree in another health care discipline needed by VA.

(2) VIOMPSP. For the purposes of the VIOMPSP, VA recognizes a bachelor's, master's, education specialist or doctorate that meets the core curriculum and supervised practice requirements in visual impairment and blindness.

Full-time student means an individual who meets the requirements for full time attendance as defined by the school in which they are enrolled.

HPSP means the VA Health Professional Scholarship Program authorized by 38 U.S.C. 7601 through 7619.

Mobility agreement means a signed legal document between VA and a participant of the HPSP or VIOMPSP, in which the participant agrees to accept assignment at a VA facility selected by VA where he or she will fulfill the obligated service requirement. A mobility agreement must be included in the participant's acceptance agreement. Relocation to another geographic location may be required.

Obligated service means the period of time during which the HPSP or VIOMPSP participant must be employed by VA in a full-time clinical occupation for which the degree prepared the participant as a requirement of the acceptance agreement.

Part-time student—(1) HPSP. For the purposes of the HPSP, part-time student means an individual who is a VA employee, and who has been accepted for enrollment or enrolled for study leading to a degree on a less than full-time basis but no less than half-time basis.

(2) VIOMPSP. For the purposes of the VIOMPSP, part-time student means an individual who has been accepted for enrollment or enrolled for study leading to a degree on a less than full-time basis but no less than half-time basis.

Participant or scholarship program participant means an individual whose application to the HPSP or VIOMPSP has been approved, whose acceptance agreement has been consummated by VA, and who has yet to complete the period of obligated service or otherwise satisfy the obligation or financial liabilities of such agreement.

Required fees means those fees which are charged by the school to all students pursuing a similar curriculum in the same school.

Scholarship Program means the VA Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) authorized by 38 U.S.C. 7601 through 7619.

School means an academic institution that is accredited by a body or bodies recognized for accreditation by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and that meets the following requirements:

(1) For the purposes of the HPSP, offers a course of study leading to a degree in a health care service discipline needed by VA.

(2) For the purposes of the VIOMPSP, offers a course of study leading to a degree in visual impairment or orientation and mobility.

School year means for purposes of the HPSP and its stipend payment, and the VIOMPSP, all or part of the 12-month period that starts on the date the participant begins school as a full-time student.

Secretary means the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or designee.

State means one of the several States, Territories and possessions of the United States, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Under Secretary for Health means the Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs or designee.

VA means the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA employee means an individual permanently employed by VA. A VA employee does not include an individual who is employed temporarily or on a contractual basis.

VA health care facility means a VA medical center, independent outpatient clinic, domiciliary, nursing home (community living center), residential treatment program, and any of a variety of community based clinics (including community based outpatient clinics, rural health resource centers, primary care telehealth clinics, and Vet Centers), consolidated mail outpatient pharmacies, and research centers.

VIOMPSP means the Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility Professional Scholarship Program authorized by 38 U.S.C. 7501 through 7505.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 301, 7501(a)(1), 7504, 7602(a), 7604(1)(B), 7633)

[78 FR 51069, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.602   Eligibility.

(a) To be eligible for a scholarship under this program an applicant must—

(1) Be unconditionally accepted for enrollment or be enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited school located in a State;

(2) Be pursuing a degree annually designated by the Secretary for participation in the Scholarship Program;

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7602(a)(1), 7612(b)(1))

(3) Be in a discipline or program annually designated by the Secretary for participation in the Scholarship Program;

(4) Be a citizen of the United States; and

(5) Submit an application to participate in the Scholarship Program together with a signed contract.

(6) Clinical tours. An applicant for a scholarship under the HPSP must agree to perform clinical tours while enrolled in the course of education or training for which the scholarship is provided. VA will determine the assignments and locations of the clinical tour.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7618(b))

(b) To be eligible for a scholarship as a part-time student under this program, an applicant must satisfy requirements of paragraph (a) of this section and in addition must—

(1) Be a full-time VA employee permanently assigned to a VA health care facility at the time of application and on the date when the scholarship is awarded;

(2) Remain a VA employee for the duration of the scholarship award.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7612(c)(3)(B))

(c) 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 scholarship under the Department of Veterans Affairs Scholarship Program.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7602(b))

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 2900-0352)

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982, as amended at 48 FR 37399, Aug. 18, 1983; 54 FR 28674, July 7, 1989; 78 FR 51070, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.603   Availability of HPSP scholarships.

(a) General. A HPSP scholarship will be awarded only when necessary to assist VA in alleviating shortages or anticipated shortages of personnel in the health professions stated in paragraph (b) of this section. VA will determine the existence of shortage of personnel in accordance with specific criteria for each health care profession. VA has the authority to establish the number of scholarships to be awarded in a fiscal year, and the number that will be awarded to full-time and part-time students.

(b) Qualifying fields of education—(1) Physicians and dentists—(i) VA will award not less than 50 HPSP scholarships each year to individuals who are accepted for enrollment or are enrolled in a program of education or training leading to employment as a physician or dentist until such date as VA determines that the staffing shortage of physicians and dentists in VA is less than 500.

(ii) Once the staffing shortage of physicians and dentists is less than 500, VA will award HPSP scholarships to individuals in an amount equal to not less than ten percent of the staffing shortage of physicians and dentists in VA.

(2) Other health care professions. VA will grant HPSP scholarships in a course of study in those disciplines or programs other than physician or dentist where recruitment is necessary for the improvement of health care of veterans as listed in 38 U.S.C. 7401(1) and (3).

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7401(1), (3), 7612(b)(2), 7612(b)(4), and 7603(b)(1))

[78 FR 51070, Aug. 20, 2013, as amended at 85 FR 13053, Mar. 6, 2020]

§17.604   Application for the HPSP.

An applicant for the HPSP must submit an accurate and complete application, including a signed written acceptance agreement.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7612(c)(1)(B))

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements in this section under control number 2900-0793.)

[78 FR 51070, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.605   Selection of participants.

(a) General. In deciding which HPSP application to approve, VA will first consider applications submitted by applicants entering their final year of education or training and applicants who previously received HPSP scholarships and who meet the conditions of paragraph (f) of this section. Except for paragraph (f) of this section, 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. In selecting participants to receive awards as part-time students, VA may, at VA's discretion—

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7612(b)(5))

(1) Award scholarships geographically to part-time students so that available scholarships may be distributed on a relatively equal basis to students working throughout the VA health care system, and/or

(2) Award scholarships on the basis of retention needs within the VA health care system.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7603(d))

(b) Selection. In evaluating and selecting participants, the Secretary will take into consideration those factors determined necessary to assure effective participation in the Scholarship Program. The factors may include, but not be limited to—

(1) Work/volunteer experience, including prior health care employment and Department of Veterans Affairs employment;

(2) Faculty and employer recommendations;

(3) Academic performance; and

(4) Career goals.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7633)

(c) Selection of part-time students. Factors in addition to those specified in paragraph (b) of this section, which may be considered in awarding scholarships to part-time students may include, but are not limited to:

(1) Length of service of a VA employee in a health care facility;

(2) Honors and awards received from VA, and other sources;

(3) VA work performance evaluation;

(4) A recommendation for selection for a part-time scholarship from a VA Medical District.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7452(d)(1))

(d) 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.

(e) Duration of scholarship award. Subject to the availability of funds for the Scholarship Program, the Secretary will award a participant a full-time scholarship under these regulations for a period of from 1 to 4 school years and a participant of a part-time scholarship for a period of 1 to 6 school years.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7612(c)(1)(A) and 7614(3))

(f) Continuation awards. Subject to the availability of funds for the Scholarship Program and selection, the Secretary will award a continuation scholarship for completion of the degree for which the scholarship was awarded if—

(1) The award will not extend the total period of Scholarship Program support beyond 4 years for a full-time scholarship, and beyond 6 years for a part-time scholarship; and

(2) The participant remains eligible for continued participation in the Scholarship Program.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7603(d))

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 2900-0352)

[48 FR 37399, Aug. 18, 1983, as amended at 54 FR 28674, July 7, 1989; 78 FR 51070, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.606   Award procedures.

(a) Amount of scholarship. (1) A scholarship award will consist of (i) tuition and required fees, (ii) other educational expenses, including books and laboratory equipment, and (iii) except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, a monthly stipend, for the duration of the scholarship award. All such payments to scholarship participants are exempt from Federal taxation.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7636)

(2) No stipend may be paid to a participant who is a full-time VA employee.

(3) The Secretary may determine the amount of the stipend paid to participants, whether part-time students or full-time students, but that amount may not exceed the maximum amount provided for in 38 U.S.C. 7613(b).

(4) In the case of a part-time student who is a part-time employee, the maximum stipend, if more than a nominal stipend is paid, will be reduced in accordance with the proportion that the number of credit hours carried by such participant bears to the number of credit hours required to be carried by a full-time student in the course of training being pursued by the participant.

(5) A full stipend may be paid only for the months the part-time student is attending classes.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7614(2))

(6) The Secretary may make arrangements with the school in which the participant is enrolled for the direct payment of the amount of tuition and/or reasonable educational expenses on the participant's behalf.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7613(c))

(7) A participant's eligibility for a stipend ends at the close of the month in which degree requirements are met.

(b) Leave-of-absence, repeated course work. The Secretary may suspend scholarship payments to or on behalf of a participant if the school (1) approves a leave-of-absence for the participant for health, personal, or other reasons, or (2) requires the participant to repeat course work for which the Secretary previously has made payments under the Scholarship Program. Additional costs relating to the repeated course work will not be paid under this program. Any scholarship payments suspended under this section will be resumed by the Secretary upon notification by the school that the participant has returned from the leave-of-absense or has satisfactorily completed the repeated course work and is proceeding as a full-time student in the course of study for which the scholarship was awarded.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7633)

[48 FR 37400, Aug. 18, 1983, as amended at 55 FR 40170, Oct. 2, 1990]

§17.607   Obligated service.

(a) General. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, each participant is obligated to provide service as a Department of Veterans Affairs employee in full-time clinical practice in the participant's discipline in an assignment or location determined by the Secretary.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(a))

(b) Beginning of service. (1)(i) Date of employment. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a participant's obligated service will begin on the date VA appoints the participant as a full-time VA employee in a clinical occupation 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 becomes licensed in a State or becomes certified, whichever is later. VA will actively assist and monitor participants to ensure State licenses or certificates are obtained in a minimal amount of time following graduation. If a participant fails to obtain his or her degree, or fails to become licensed in a State or become certified no later than 180 days after receiving the degree, the participant is considered to be in breach of the acceptance agreement.

(ii) Notification. VA will notify the participant of the work assignment and its location no later than 60 days before the date on which the participant must begin work.

(iii) VA mentor. VA will ensure that the participant is assigned a mentor who is employed at the same facility where the participant performs his or her obligated service at the commencement of such service.

(2) Obligated service shall begin on the degree completion date for a participant who, on that date, is a full-time VA employee working in a capacity for which the degree program prepared the participant.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b), 7616(c), 7618(a))

(c) Duration of service—(1) Full-time student—(i) Physician or dentist. A participant who attended school as a full-time student will agree to serve as a full-time physician or dentist in the Veterans Health Administration for 18 months for each school year or part thereof for which a scholarship was awarded.

(ii) Other health care profession. A participant who attended school as a full-time student in a health care profession other than physician or dentist will agree to serve as a full-time clinical employee in the Veterans Health Administration for 1 calendar year for each school year or part thereof for which a scholarship was awarded, but for no less than 2 years.

(2) Part-time student. Obligated service to VA for a participant who attended school as a part-time student must be satisfied by full-time clinical employment. The period of obligated service will be reduced from that which a full-time student must serve under paragraph (c)(1) of this section in accordance with the proportion that the number of credit hours carried by the part-time student in any school year bears to the number of credit hours required to be carried by a full-time student who is pursuing the same degree; however, the period of obligated service will not be for less than 1 year.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7612(c)(1)(B), 7612(c)(3)(A), 7618(c))

(d) Location for service. VA reserves the right to make final decisions on the location for service obligation. A participant who receives a scholarship as a full-time student must be willing to relocate to another geographic location to carry out his or her service obligation according to the participant's mobility agreement. A participant who received a scholarship as a part-time student may be allowed to serve the period of obligated service at the health care facility where the individual was assigned when the scholarship was authorized, if there is a vacant position which will satisfy the individual's mobility agreement at that facility.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(a))

(e) Creditability of advanced clinical training. No period of advanced clinical training will be credited toward satisfying the period of obligated service incurred under the Scholarship Program.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b)(3)(A)(ii)

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982, as amended at 48 FR 37400, Aug. 18, 1983; 54 FR 28675, July 7, 1989; 78 FR 51070, Aug. 20, 2013; 85 FR 13053, Mar. 6, 2020]

§17.608   Deferment of obligated service.

(a) Request for deferment. A participant receiving a degree from a school of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, optometry, or podiatry, may request deferment of obligated service to complete an approved program of advanced clinical training. The Secretary may defer the beginning date of the obligated service to allow the participant to complete the advanced clinical training program. The period of this deferment will be the time designated for the specialty training.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b)(3)(A)(i))

(b) Deferment requirements. Any participant whose period of obligated service is deferred shall be required to take all or part of the advanced clinical training in an accredited program in an educational institution having an Affiliation Agreement with a Department of Veterans Affairs health care facility, and such training will be undertaken in a Department of Veterans Affairs health-care facility.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b)(4))

(c) Additional service obligation. A participant who has requested and received deferment for approved advanced clinical training may, at the time of approval of such deferment and at the discretion of the Secretary and upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health, incur an additional period of obligated service—

(1) At the rate of one-half of a calendar year for each year of approved clinical training (or a proportionate ratio thereof) if the training is in a specialty determined to be necessary to meet health care requirements of the Veterans Health Administration; Department of Veterans Affairs; or

(2) At the rate of three-quarters of a calendar year for each year of approved graduate training (or a proportionate ratio thereof) if the training is in a medical specialty determined not to be necessary to meet the health care requirements of the Veterans Health Administration. Specialties necessary to meet the health care requirements of the Veterans Health Administration will be prescribed periodically by the Secretary when, and if, this provision for an additional period of obligated service is to be used.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b)(4)(B))

(d) Altering deferment. Before altering the length or type of approved advanced clinical training for which the period of obligated service was deferred under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this section, the participant must request and obtain the Secretary's written approval of the alteration.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7633)

(e) Beginning of service after deferment. Any participant whose period of obligated service has been deferred under paragraph (a) or (b) of this section must begin the obligated service effective on the date of appointment under title 38 in full-time clinical practice in an assignment or location in a Department of Veterans Affairs health care facility as determined by the Secretary. The assignment will be made by the Secretary within 120 days prior to or no later than 30 days following the completion of the requested graduate training for which the deferment was granted. Travel and relocation regulations will apply.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7616(b)(2))

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982; 47 FR 13523, Mar. 31, 1982, as amended at 54 FR 28675, July 7, 1989; 61 FR 21969, May 13, 1996; 79 FR 54616, Sept. 12, 2014]

§17.609   Pay during period of obligated service.

The initial appointment of physicians for obligated service will be made in a grade commensurate with qualifications as determined in 38 U.S.C. 7404(b) A physician serving a period of obligated service is not eligible for incentive special pay during the first three years of such obligated service. A physician may be paid primary special pay at the discretion of the Secretary upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7431-7433)

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982, as amended at 54 FR 28676, July 7, 1989; 61 FR 21969, May 13, 1996; 79 FR 54616, Sept. 12, 2014]

§17.610   Failure to comply with terms and conditions of participation.

(a) If a participant, other than one described in paragraph (b) of this section fails to accept payment or instructs the school not to accept payment of the scholarship provided by the Secretary, the participant must, in addition to any service or other obligation incurred under the contract, pay to the United States the amount of $1,500 liquidated damages. Payment of this amount must be made within 90 days of the date on which the participant fails to accept payment of the scholarship award or instructs the school not to accept payment.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7617(a))

(b) If a participant:

(1) Fails to maintain an acceptable level of academic standing;

(2) Is dismissed from the school for disciplinary reasons;

(3) Voluntarily terminates the course of study or program for which the scholarship was awarded including in the case of a full-time student, a reduction of course load from full-time to part-time before completing the course of study or program;

(4) Who is enrolled in a program or education or training leading to employment as a physician, fails to successfully complete post-graduate training leading to eligibility for board certification in a specialty.

(5) Fails to become licensed to practice in the discipline for which the degree program prepared the participant, if applicable, in a State within 1 year from the date such person becomes eligible to apply for State licensure; or

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7617(b)(4))

(6) Is a part-time student and fails to maintain employment in a permanent assignment in a VA health care facility while enrolled in the course of training being pursued; the participant must instead of performing any service obligation, pay to the United States an amount equal to all scholarship funds awarded under the written contract executed in accordance with §17.602. Payment of this amount must be made within 1 year from the date academic training terminates unless a longer period is necessary to avoid hardship. No interest will be charged on any part of this indebtedness.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7617(b))

(c) Participants who breach their contracts by failing to begin or complete their service obligation (for any reason) other than as provided for under paragraph (b) of this section are liable to repay the amount of all scholarship funds paid to them and to the school on their behalf, plus interest, multiplied by three, minus months of service obligation satisfied, as determined by the following formula:

eCFR graphic er25se06.021.gif

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in which:

‘A’ is the amount the United States is entitled to recover;

‘φ’ is the sum of the amounts paid to or on behalf of the applicant and the interest on such amounts which would be payable if, at the time the amounts were paid, they were loans bearing interest at the maximum legal prevailing rate, as determined by the Treasurer of the United States;

‘t’ is the total number of months in the applicant's period of obligated service; and

‘s’ is the number of months of the period of obligated service served by the participant.

The amount which the United States is entitled to recover shall be paid within 1 year of the date on which the applicant failed to begin or complete the period of obligated service, as determined by the Secretary.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7617(c)(1)(2))

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 2900-0352)

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982; 47 FR 13523, Mar. 31, 1982, as amended at 48 FR 37400, Aug. 18, 1983; 54 FR 28676, July 7, 1989; 54 FR 46611, Nov. 6, 1989; 61 FR 24237, May 14, 1996; 85 FR 13053, Mar. 6, 2020]

§17.611   Bankruptcy.

Any payment obligation incurred may not be discharged in bankruptcy under title 11 U.S.C. until 5 years after the date on which the payment obligation is due. This section applies to participants in the HPSP and the VIOMPSP.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7505(d), 7634(c))

[78 FR 51071, Aug. 20, 2013]

§17.612   Cancellation, waiver, or suspension of obligation.

(a) General. (1) This section applies to participants in the HPSP or the VIOMPSP.

(2) Any obligation of a participant for service or payment will be cancelled upon the death of the participant.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7634(a))

(b) Waivers or suspensions. (1) A participant may seek a waiver or suspension of the obligated service or payment obligation incurred under this program by submitting a written request to VA setting forth the basis, circumstances, and causes which support the requested action. Requests for waivers or suspensions must be submitted to VA no later than 1 year after the date VA notifies the participant that he or she is in breach of his or her acceptance agreement. A participant seeking a waiver or suspension must comply with requests for additional information from VA no later than 30 days after the date of any such request.

(i) Waivers. A waiver is a permanent release by VA of the obligation either to repay any scholarship funds that have already been paid to or on behalf of the participant, or to fulfill any other acceptance agreement requirement. If a waiver is granted, then the waived amount of scholarship funds may be considered taxable income.

(ii) Suspensions. VA may approve an initial request for a suspension for a period of up to 1 year. A suspension may be extended for one additional year, after which time the participant will be in breach of his or her acceptance agreement. If a suspension is approved:

(A) VA will temporarily discontinue providing any scholarship funds to or on behalf of the participant while the participant's scholarship is in a suspended status; or

(B) VA will temporarily delay the enforcement of acceptance agreement requirements.

(2) The Secretary may waive or suspend any service or payment obligation incurred by a participant whenever compliance by the participant (i) is impossible, due to circumstances beyond the control of the participant or (ii) whenever the Secretary concludes that a waiver or suspension of compliance would be in the best interest of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7634(b))

(c) Compliance by a participant with a service or payment obligation will be considered impossible due to circumstances beyond the control of the participant if the Secretary determines, on the basis of such information and documentation as may be required, that the participant suffers from a physical or mental disability resulting in permanent inability to perform the service or other activities which would be necessary to comply with the obligation.

(d) Waivers or suspensions of service or payment obligations, when not related to paragraph (c) of this section, and when considered in the best interest of the Department of Veterans Affairs, will be determined by the Secretary on an individual basis.

(e) Eligibility to reapply for award. Any previous participant of any federally sponsored scholarship program who breached his or her acceptance agreement or similar agreement in such scholarship program is not eligible to apply for a HPSP or VIOMPSP. This includes participants who previously applied for, and received, a waiver under this section.

(f) Finality of decisions. Decisions to approve or disapprove waiver requests are final and binding determinations. Such determinations are not subject to reconsideration or appeal.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7505(c), 7634(a), 7634(b))

[47 FR 10810, Mar. 12, 1982, as amended at 78 FR 51071, Aug. 20, 2013]

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