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Post 9/11 GI Bill Overpayment Issues

GI BILL

By Debbie Gregory.

When separating from the military, service members have a number of options. For many, the best option is cashing in on their veteran education benefits via the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Unfortunately, for a number of veterans, failure to place safeguards in place can result in indebtedness to the Veteran Administration (VA).

There are several situations in which you may find yourself owing the VA for Post 9/11 GI Bill overpayments. In order to avoid these pitfalls, here are a number of important points to be aware of:

  • Dropping a Class – If you drop a class of leave school, it decreases your training time. If the VA has already processed a payment for tuition and fees, an overpayment will occur and a debt is created against your account.
  • Change of EnrollmentMake note of your school’s drop/add deadline for classes. This change of enrollment can impact the amount of money paid to the school. If you drop a class, you will have to pay back any Post 9/11 GI Bill money you received for that class including tuition and fees, your monthly housing allowance, your book stipend, and any kicker or college fund money. This might be based on needing to attend a minimum of hours too.
  • Proper Record Keeping – The Veterans Administration states that you are responsible for keeping track of your tuition and fee account balance and payments. Checking in regularly with your school’s finance department is a good way to make sure that the charges are correct and that payments and refunds are processed correctly.

If you end up owing money back to the VA for your Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. First and foremost, determine who pays the money back, you or your school.

The VA will collect from the school if you never attended any classes for which you were certified, regardless of the reason for non-attendance, or you completely withdrew on or before the first day of the term.

The VA will collect from you if you totally withdraw after the first day of the term, or you dropped classes resulting in a reduced training time.

If you have mitigating circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from continuing in your veteran school education or that cause you to reduce credits, the VA may forgive the debt.

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • An illness or injury affecting the student during the enrollment period;
  • An illness or death in the student’s immediate family
  • Financial obligations that demand the student obtains immediate employment
  • Unanticipated active military service, including active duty for training.

Mitigating circumstances will provide the VA a one-time only opportunity to forgive up to six (6) credits the first time you drop a class or classes outside of the drop/add period.

If you receive a debt notification from the VA, address the situation immediately by contacting the Debt Management Center at 800-827-0648 or e-mail them at [email protected]

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Are For-Profit Colleges the Best Choice for Veteran Education?

for profit schools

By Debbie Gregory.

A number of for-profit colleges have been characterized as preying on those seeing to use their veteran education benefits. These schools are often guilty of inflated job promises and under-delivering on education. With more than 1 million veterans and their families taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend college, are for-profit school the best choice?

It’s no secret that the for-profit sector has aggressively aimed its marketing to members of the military. A 2014 Senate report found that eight for-profit college companies received $2.9 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill veteran benefits, approximately one quarter of all the funds spent on GI Bill benefits in 2012-2013.

Further, due to a loophole in current law, veteran education students are unusually attractive to for-profit colleges. First, veterans eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offer for-profit colleges a guaranteed stream of federal revenue but, unlike the students attending the colleges with federal student loans, do not present a risk of subsequent default.

In addition, the Higher Education Act requires that all proprietary (for-profit) colleges demonstrate compliance with the “90/10 rule” meaning that at least ten percent of revenues must come from sources other than federal financial aid funds authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. However, as currently written, federal military educational benefits including Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are not counted as federal financial aid and in fact are counted on the “10” side of the revenue calculation.

What makes for-profit schools so attractive to this audience, given the fact that on average, for-profit schools cost twice as much as educating veterans at public colleges?

First off, as previously stated, for-profit schools are the ones targeting and courting these potential students. They make for easy acceptance and easy enrollment in order to cash in on veteran resources.

Traditional colleges and universities should be doing much more to reach out to help those who served reach their education goals. These nontraditional students often come out of the military with unique skill sets. These schools need to let veterans know that they are not only welcome, but they are accepted and valued. Becoming a “Veteran Friendly” or Yellow Ribbon School would go a long way to that end.

Also, transition resources should focus on giving advice to those who want to further their education. Providing more guidance and knowledge on how to make that transition is crucial: when to apply; what kind of credentials schools are looking for; how to package yourself as an applicant. If a veteran needs to beef up their academic credentials, then attending a community college is a great alternative.

The bottom line is that not-for-profit schools need to market their veteran education value. In the long run, it will greatly benefit the schools , the veterans, and the tax payers.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.