You've earned the right to a higher education through your service in the U.S. Armed Forces. But how do you use your GI Bill benefits? Which version is right for you? The Legion can help answer questions about state and/or federal education benefits, who can use them, and how long.
In a coordinated effort to speed up the processing of Post-9/11 GI Bill payments this spring, VA announced this week that it has been reaching out to student veterans, servicemembers, university officials and other partners to meet its commitment to a processing goal of Feb. 1 - the first date of spring payments. Presently, VA has processed over 72,000 of the approximately 103,000 spring enrollments received. Since implementing the historic legislation last year, VA has paid over $1.3 billion in benefits to more than 170,000 students.
"Only by VA and all of our partners working together will students be better served," said Mike Walcoff, VA's acting under secretary for benefits. "We are making a concerted effort to reach out to everyone to provide the timely benefits that those who served our nation deserve."
Walcoff said there are "shared responsibilities" among VA, universities and students to ensure education benefits are processed on time. VA has said that enrollment certifications that were received by Jan. 19 will be paid by the Feb. 1 deadline.
VA reports that it has sent letters to university presidents and school certifying officials, state veterans affairs directors, and notified veteran service organizations, congressional members and other education stakeholders highlighting VA's emphasis on the importance of timely submission of school enrollment information.
VA has also released a checklist that guides student veterans through the GI Bill application process, and a pamphlet that provides important reminders and answers frequently asked questions once they are enrolled.
Currently, VA says its working to provide timely payments to all eligible student veterans to ensure they are spared the financial hardships that some faced during the fall term, when a backlog of claims denied some of them their payments.
To help address the high volume of claims it has received, VA reports it has hired 530 employees, bringing the total number of education claims processors to 1,200. Employees have been working mandatory overtime since August 2009. Additionally, the department awarded a temporary contract to assist with education claims processing.
VA's pamphlet for second-semester students can be found here: http://www.legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/gibill_spring_pamphlet.pdf
The checklist is available here: http://www.legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/gibill_checklist.pdf