Student Veterans Question Compensation Changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill

Post-9/11 GI Bill

Recent changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill have generated controversy and confusion among student veterans.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has provided educational benefits for student veterans since 2009. But a recent change has some worried about their financial stability.

In August 2011, a provision that provided compensation during breaks from school was eliminated from the program. Some students only learned of the change when their first month’s pay of the 2012 spring semester was lower than usual.

The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to communicate updates to students through a public Facebook group that launched around the time the bill went into action. A recent post clarified that the reduction of interval pay may have resulted in a smaller monthly housing allowance check for February, causing a stir among student veterans.

Mixed Reactions

“Not getting break pay is really hindering myself and other vets when it comes to paying the bills when class is on break,” one student wrote. Others agreed, claiming rent payments are growing difficult to meet when school isn’t in session.

Still, others acknowledged the logistics behind the interval pay cut and urged fellow students to appreciate the many benefits they’re receiving while searching for ways to generate income. These students suggested that it’s not feasible for the government to supply educational benefits when school is in recess.

The Facebook message also indicated that some students were having trouble because either the VA had not yet certified their enrollment or their school had not yet verified the tuition costs. Students argued that excessive delays in receiving compensation were due to poor support from VA call centers and lengthy response times.

The VA acknowledged veterans’ frustrations in a statement issued by Under Secretary for Benefits Alison A. Hickey. Although there is no immediate plan to change the interval pay schedule, Hickey assured students that the VA is improving both the accessibility and efficiency of call centers during a busy enrollment season. She also encouraged feedback, indicating that processing students’ claims is still a top priority.

“Because we want to ‘get it right,’ we are implementing a plan to refine our service in order to continue to improve your experience with VA Call Centers,” Hickey wrote.

GI Bill Benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect on Aug. 1, 2009 and provides student veterans with a range of benefits, including:

  • Full tuition paid for all in-state residents attending public schools
  • Tuition up to $17,500 per academic year paid for students attending private or foreign school
  • Additional tuition reimbursement for students attending institutions of higher learning in certain states
  • A monthly housing allowance
  • Books and supplies up to $1,000 per academic year
  • A one-time benefit of $500 for students from highly rural areas

Students receiving compensation from the GI Bill program can track and organize their benefits at ebenefits.va.gov. With a premium account, users can apply for benefits, view status updates, and access documents, including the Certificate of Eligibility for VA home loan eligibility.

Photo courtesy of US Army Africa.