VA Says August 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill

VA Says Aug 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill

VA Says Aug. 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill  

By Debbie Gregory

A major expansion of veterans’ education benefits under the new “Forever GI Bill” is set to go into effect on August 1st.

While there are a few IT glitches expected regarding housing allowances, most of the 34 changes to veterans’ education benefits are ready for prime time.

“This is a complex, heavy-lift effort,” retired Maj. Gen. Robert Worley II, director of VA education services, told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subpanel on economic opportunity. “We made very good progress to date. We didn’t get to the (July 16) date we were hoping for, we need to slip that about a month and that’s where we are. We have a handful of defects left.”

Worley and Lloyd Thrower, deputy chief information officer at the VA’s Office of Information & Technology, said they expect the hiccup with the housing allowance to be cleared up within a few weeks of the launch.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, dubbed the “Forever” GI Bill, ends a 15-year limit on education benefits for veterans whose last discharge or release from active duty came on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Advocates have called it the most sweeping expansion of veterans education benefits in a decade

By late last year, Worley said the VA was in the process of hiring 200 temporary employees who would process claims by hand until the IT system was improved with a 40- to 50-person team that would be responsible for deciding which veterans would be eligible for increased aid for STEM degrees.

“We expect a wave of enrollments to come in between now and the early part of the fall, so that will be an increased workload, and that’s why we have more people and overtime scheduled and those kinds of things,” he said. “We will need to do some reworks for enrollments that come in between now and mid-August.”