New protections in place for Veterans using GI Bill

Eric Dehm
September 07, 2018 - 9:09 pm

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ginnie Lee

As college students return to campuses across the country this week, some vets going to school on the GI Bill are noticing they're receiving too much, or too little, pay. During an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show to discuss the current issues surrounding the over or underpayment of the GI Bill living stipends during the current semester, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Associate Director for National Legislative Services Pat Murray says there is a "silver lining" to the situation, at least for those who are overpaid.

The payment discrepancies are due to an issue with the VA incorrectly processing the zip codes of students. While the zip code of your home address was the previous basis for the living stipend, which is the equivalent of E-5 with dependents BAH payments, beginning this year it's based on the zip code of the school you attend. This has led to incorrect rates being assigned to the students in regards to their living stipends, with some receiving more, and some receiving less. 

If a student receives more, Murray says those expecting the VA to come calling for their money back will be pleasantly surprised.

"In a hearing last month, the head of VA education services said that any overpayment due to VA's miscalculation of the zip code, whatever it might be, they're not going to be coming and collecting for any students that were overpaid due to the zip code issue," Murray said. "So that is something to kind of manage anyone's fears, you're not going to be getting a debt collection notice if there was a mispayment to the zip codes."

This might come as a shock to vets used to the DoD coming to recoup any mistaken extra pay immediately, but Murray says the VA is on record saying it, and the VFW will hold them accountable. Still, this is just for this specific issue, and he is quick to point out the importance of making sure you don't end up on the wrong side of those debt collectors due to something else.

"We recommend all the folks get in, talk to your school, talk to the veteran office, talk to your school certifying official and make sure you're doing everything right so you're not on the hook for anything in the future."

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