NAICU Washington Update

VA Delays GI Bill Implementation Until 2020

December 03, 2018

After four months of delays and confusion, the Department of Veterans Affairs officially postponed the implementation of the “Forever GI Bill” housing allowance provision until the spring 2020 enrollment process for student veterans. The VA has been unable to overcome technical hurdles, including outdated software, IT failures, and staff shortages, to properly process student veteran claims for their housing allowance. This has resulted in veterans receiving late housing payments, incorrect housing payments, or no payments at all.

At issue is the updated GI Bill, enacted in 2017, that changes the calculation for the housing allowance to reflect where the student takes classes, rather than where the student lives. The new calculation was supposed to be in effect on August 1, 2018. The VA had told institutions to wait to process claims until August, which resulted in a rush of claims that has to be overcome.  In August, the backlog was more than 200,000 claims, which is now down to about 45,000.

Until the November 28 announcement, the VA had been communicating how it was working round-the-clock to remedy the problem and assured Congress that the system would be functional soon.  In November, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held its second oversight hearing to look into the problem with GI Bill payment delays.  Leaders at the VA testified about efforts to upgrade the IT systems related to the payment changes, but did not offer a target date for completion. In advance of the hearing, the higher education community submitted a letter for the record noting concerns with the situation for student veterans, and asking the VA to prominently post claims processing updates on the GI Bill website to keep veterans informed.  

Institutions with veteran populations should stay in touch with veteran students to ensure they can stay in school and with VA representatives to stay up to date on the state of processing claims.

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