NAICU Washington Update

Frustration and Confusion Mount as Delay in GI Bill Update Continues

October 01, 2018

Major systems errors at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have delayed the implementation of the Forever GI Bill, which was enacted last year.  Expected to be implemented by August 1, the delay is causing headaches on campus for veteran students and administrators.

The updates to the Post-9/11 GI Bill were intended to have schools report enrollment in classes by ZIP code of where the class takes place, so veteran students could receive the appropriate benefit amount based on the local cost of living.  It also requires veterans’ monthly housing allowance to be calculated based on the ZIP code of where the veteran physically attends most classes, rather than the ZIP code of the main school location. The system to report and match ZIP codes has been down more than a month past the implementation deadline and is causing confusion and improper payments.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, in which private colleges provide additional tuition assistance to veterans, is also affected by the system failure. Due to the errors, private, colleges cannot update their tuition and fee amounts for the Yellow Ribbon Program, causing delays in posting tuition, certifying enrollment, and paying student benefits. Some students are being provided last year’s costs, thus receiving less than they need to pay current tuition.

The intent of the ZIP code update was to target for-profit colleges headquartered in expensive urban areas advertising that veterans could pocket more of their benefits by taking their classes in lower-cost locations.

The VA has indicated the problem will be solved soon and that “discrepancies” will be corrected.  School certifying officials can log-in to see the official notice from the VA about the problem on VA-ONCE, the online certification enrollment system.

Fifteen veterans groups sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie voicing their concern with the “ongoing issues impacting GI Bill students’ Monthly Housing Allowance.”

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