VA recouping GI Bill pay too fast, Nye says
02-22-2010 05:47 PM
A Virginia lawmaker says the Veterans Affairs Department is not giving student-veterans enough time to repay the $3,000 GI Bill advance payments given out last fall when VA was having problems processing claims.
VA officials announced last week their intention to deduct $750 a month from the living stipends of student veterans who received GI Bill advances last year and are still using the Post-9/11-GI bill in the spring term.
Rep. Glenn Nye, D-Va., called the $750 payment “too much, too fast,” and is asking the VA to reconsider.
In a Monday letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Nye proposed that VA cap repayments at 20 percent of the living stipend, which would be as low as $132 a month for veterans in low-cost areas.
“Asking our veterans to repay $750 a month is too much, too fast, especially when many veterans are struggling to get back on their feet after their benefit payments were delayed last fall,” Nye said in a statement.
“The idea of this program is to help our veterans get ahead, not to bury them in debt and paperwork. VA should implement a realistic repayment plan that eases the burden on our veterans so they can focus on getting a college education.”
VA had no immediate response to Nye’s suggestion, but VA’s announcement last week about recoupment said that the $750 deductions for living stipends could be modified on a case-by-case basis if students had particular hardships.
The $3,000 payments were made last year to about 122,000 people after VA had problems processing initial Post-9/11 GI Bill claims. Advances were made to students to cover living stipends that were delayed for a month or more.
VA officials said last week that they would begin recouping the money through deductions in living stipends for those attending spring term classes, with the first deduction scheduled for April 1.
For people who received the $3,000 but are not receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill living stipends for the spring term, VA officials said they expect individual repayment plans to be set so that the $3,000 is repaid to the VA within 12 months.
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