Jim Absher is a benefits columnist for Military.com.
Almost all GI Bill users will soon have to verify their attendance with the Department of Veterans Affairs before receiving any monthly payments.
The new rule affects more than 550,000 students, nearly 85% of the over 650,000 veterans and dependents using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The good news is that it should be a fairly painless process.
Montgomery GI users have always been required to verify their school attendance each month before payment was issued. Beginning in September 2021, Post-9/11 GI Bill users attending technical or non-college degree schools were given the same requirement, and the VA recently announced on its website that all Post-9/11 GI Bill users attending college courses that began on or after Dec. 17, 2021, are now also required to verify their attendance with the agency before the normal monthly payment will be issued. The VA posted the change to its Facebook page on Jan. 20.
That means that if you have recently enrolled in your spring semester or winter quarter, you may not get your Post-9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) on Feb. 1 if you don't verify your attendance with the VA, even if you have been getting it previously without verification. The average MHA payment is more than $1,700.
Dependents using the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) education benefit and veterans using other GI Bill programs such as the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC), Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) or the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program are not affected by this new rule.
The VA will contact all affected students either via text or email and let them know they must begin enrollment verification. VA says that students will be contacted through the phone number or email address on file with the agency.
Students who have not been contacted prior to the month's end should contact the VA's Education Call Center at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). Students can also update or verify their contact information online on VA's website.
If you fail to verify enrollment for two consecutive months, your payments will be placed on hold. In order to have your payments released, you will need to call the VA to verify your enrollment.
The VA has also created a helpful video explaining the enrollment verification process.
The VA says that those using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for programs such as flight, correspondence, on-the-job or apprenticeship training programs are not affected by the new rule at this time.
How to Verify Attendance
Text Message Verification
Most GI Bill users will be able to verify their school attendance via text message.
Prior to month's end, most students in the U.S. will receive a text message asking them to enroll in the text messaging verification system. The enrollment text should read: "Post-9/11 GI Bill housing and kicker payments now require monthly enrollment verification. Would you like to submit yours via text? Please reply YES or NO."
Once a student agrees to receive text messages from the VA they will receive a monthly text asking them to verify they attended classes for the previous month. The VA will send the verification text on the last day of the month, or the last day of the term.
If a student responds affirmatively, the monthly payment will be issued. If the student doesn't respond to the text within six days they will need to verify their attendance via telephone by calling the Education Call Center at 888-GIBILL-1. If the student responds that they are no longer in classes, their payments will be suspended awaiting information from the school.
For students who do not wish to verify by text message, are going to school outside the U.S. or are otherwise unable to verify via text, the VA will offer an email verification alternative.
On the last day of each month, or the last day of the term, the VA will send an email with the subject line: "Action Required: Verify Your Monthly Enrollment". Students should click the "YES" button, which will take them to a separate webpage that will display a confirmation message. Like the text message option, those who do not respond within 14 days will have to contact the VA via telephone to verify their attendance.
Remember that the VA will never ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, via text or email.
-- Jim Absher can be reached at Jim.Absher@monster.com.