Military Advantage

Shift in VA Recoupment Policy May Hurt Vets

According to an article by the American Council on Education, the Department of Veterans Affairs may soon change their debt collecting practices in a way that could cause harm to veterans.

Currently, the VA only collects debts from veterans for housing and other payments that go directly to the veteran (like book stipends, and monthly Montgomery GI Bill benefits). Any Post-9/11 GI Bill debts for tuition and fees, which are normally paid directly by the schools, are currently being offset.

However, the VA is considering changing the policy, making veterans responsible to repay any tuition and fee related debts no matter who directly received the original payments.

ACE reports that the higher education association community—led by the National Association of College and University Business Officers—has asked VA to reconsider the shift in policy. In a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Shinseki, NACUBO President, John Walda, wrote that the policy would potentially violate “the faith and intent of the enrollment certification process.” Most colleges and universities allow veterans to register and attend classes while waiting for the tuition and fee payment to arrive from VA.  This policy change could force schools to rethink that practice if they can no longer count on the VA benefits. 

Walda also said that VA’s history of poor communications with schools and students will likely “exacerbate” the problem.

Veterans should be aware of this proposal because the indebtedness process can cause delays in future benefit payments, block class enrollments, and result in insufficient benefits to cover the cost of their educations. In addition, the financial impact could force veterans to consider dropping out entirely. Walda writes that if a veteran withdraws as a result of this policy, he or she, will also incur debt from the school.

You can read the ACE report and the original letter sent by the National Association of College and University Business Officers on the American Council on Education website.

Source: American Council on Education

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