Earlier this month the VA launched a campaign to aggressively address the GI Bill backlog and has to date processed payment for 72,000 veterans this term. That is more than half of all the claims they processed last fall, and in a lot less time.
Stated in a VA press release earlier this week, “VA is working to provide timely payments to all eligible Veterans to ensure that students are spared the financial hardships which some faced during the fall 2009 term.”
The VA has publicly committed to cutting checks by the end of this month for all 103,000 veterans who had their paperwork completed by January 19th. Any veteran, whose paperwork was completed after January 19th, should be prepared to wait a couple weeks before they receive their first GI Bill check, maybe longer. As we stated in our last GI Bill Wire posting, “Intel for Next Semester” veterans should hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
The VA’s goal to process GI Bill payments faster than last term is partially dependent on colleges submitting enrollment certifications in a timely and accurate manner. “Prompt submission of information from schools each term helps avoid delays in tuition and fee payments to schools and, in turn, applicable payments to our veterans,” wrote VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Although last year’s backlog was not caused by late school submissions, the VA claims that this term they are ready to process school paperwork as fast as they can receive them.
Earlier this month the VA engaged school officials, local governments, veterans groups and other key stake holders to help build a “concerted effort” to get good information out and enrollment certifications in. As part of this campaign, the VA released a new “Post 9/11 GI Bill Hip Pocket Guide” for students, a lessons learned summary for school certifying officials and a checklist for returning students. We have incorporated these new VA resources into our own “Getting Started” checklist which has already helped thousands of veterans sign up for their GI Bill benefits.
Some of the key lessons learned included:
- Early submission of enrollment certifications is essential to timely payment.
- Schools don’t need to wait to see a veteran’s Certificate of Eligibility to submit the enrollment certification.
- It is critical to VA’s processing that students are correctly identified as chapter 33 participants to prevent misrouting of claims.
- Correct direct deposit information, for the veteran and the school is essential for accurate payment routing.
IAVA will continue to monitor the situation and keep you up-to-date.