VA plans to recoup emergency GI Bill payments
02-16-2010 05:39 PM
About 122,000 people now have received word from the Veterans Affairs Department that they must start paying back the $3,000 advance payments of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits they received late last year.
A second warning letter will come this week, officials said.
The advance payments were made beginning Oct. 2, when it became clear VA would be late paying living stipends and book allowances to students using the new program for the fall term.
Applications for the emergency payments ceased on Feb. 8, and VA officials said they see no need to offer them for the spring term because there are no similar delays in benefits payouts.
Those who are receiving spring term GI Bill benefits will be given the option of having payments recouped at a rate of $750 a month from the monthly living stipends, which means the advance pay received during the fall term would be repaid in four months. Under that option, deductions would begin April 1.
If they are not receiving GI Bill living stipends for the spring term, those who received the $3,000 will have to make alternative payment plans.
Generally, VA wants the $3,000 back, interest free, within one year, and requires a monthly payment plan, which would mean monthly payments of $250.
The names of anyone who does not respond to VA’s request for recoupment will be turned over the Treasury Offset Program, which can garnish salaries or tax refunds to collect money owed the federal government.
Debt waivers will be considered, VA officials said, using standard procedures that require filling out a financial status report and making a written appeal that collecting the debt would be unfair or create a financial hardship.
As of Feb. 5, VA received spring semester Post-9/11 GI Bill enrollments from 167,000 student veterans and already has paid more than 147,000 students. That includes everyone whose application was received by Jan. 19, officials said.
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