WHO WE ARE:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) monitors all legislation affecting veterans, alerts VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and actively lobbies Congress and the administration on veterans issues. With VFW’s own priority goals in mind, combined with the support of 2 million members of VFW and its auxiliaries, our voice on “the Hill” cannot be ignored!





Friday, February 10, 2012

VFW Builds Coalition to Support Student-Veteran Success

VFW staff in Washington have been busy over the last month, building a robust coalition, pushing for student-veteran success in higher education. The coalition, comprised of 10 organizations vested in supporting student-veterans, recently sent a series of letters to leaders in the House, Senate, and the Obama Administration, calling for improved consumer education for potential student-veterans and a streamlined method of recourse for veterans who feel they were victims of fraud, waste or abuse while using their benefits.


The VFW first scored a major victory for student-veterans in 2008, pushing for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which now offers unprecedented educational opportunities to veterans of the current conflicts and the dependents of career service members. Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that some of today’s newest student-veterans may lose their benefits by enrolling in schools that fail to confer relevant educational credentials.

While some continue to point fingers at certain sectors of higher education, the VFW has chosen to look at the root causes of the problem – a potentially uninformed consumer inundated with bad information and no process for recovery. Over the last few months, the VFW has learned that enough quality information is available for veterans to make informed decisions about how to best use their education benefits, and both the Department of Education and VA have already taken steps to collect more. Unfortunately, most of this information never reaches student-veterans. Plus, if veterans feel they have been victims of fraud, waste or abuse, conflicts are resolved on an ad-hoc basis, with little knowledge or interaction from VA.

Under Chapter 36 of the G.I. Bill, VA is obligated to make educational and vocational counseling available to service members, potential student-veterans, and dependents eligible for any chapter of the G.I. Bill. Unfortunately, very few student-veterans are aware that this benefit exists, and even fewer choose to take advantage of it. In its current form, veterans must first discover that such counseling is available, fill out the requisite paperwork, mail it to their nearest VA regional office and wait for a response. This labor-intensive “opt-in” process resulted in only 6,400 veterans receiving counseling in 2011, compared to more than 800,000 veterans utilizing G.I. Bill benefits.

With so much at stake for these future leaders, the coalition has asked for an overhaul to VA’s educational counseling procedures, mandating VA to actively contact veterans eligible for such counseling, asking those who wish to waive the benefit to “opt-out.” On the back end, the coalition has asked that VA leverage its resources to create a formal complaint process to address student-veteran issues, allowing VA and other agencies responsible for student-veteran programs to take action.

In addition to the VFW, the coalition includes some of the nation’s leading veterans’ advocates, including the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Student Veterans of America; as well as a diverse group of advocates in non-profit and for-profit education including American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, American Council of Education, Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association of State Approving Agencies, and the University of Phoenix.

The VFW believes that by ensuring veterans understand their benefits and can take action when a school breaks the rules, student-veterans will be able to use their G.I. Bill effectively, molding the next generation of American leaders, as we intended. Check back regularly with this blog for updates.

(Image: Coalition letter recently sent to House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Ranking Member Bob Filner, D-Calif., asking for improved consumer education and recourse for student-veterans.)

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1 comment:

  1. So I had a very interesting phone call to the VA today about my Post 9/11 GI Bill and University of Phoenix

    I was told by my ground campus advisor that as of Aug the VA was no longer paying break pay and as of OCT the VA would start paying 1/2 the national average (672 I think) BAH to online students. Now seeing that every campus class I was taking, I was only in class for 4 weeks, I stood to only get paid for 4 of every 5 weeks. For my area BAH is low, so I would only lose about $150 - $200 per month. This would save me gas and time so I thought it would be well worth it.

    I stayed out of class from mid Aug to Oct 4th and started online classes. When I started getting my GI Bill again it was only $500 ish. I was sure that this was only because it was a partial month. Because of a mix up on my paperwork that transferred me to online from ground campus, I didn't get another payment until a week ago. The paid me back pay as well, again only $500 ish per class/month. I called the UoP GI center and was told:

    "To be considered full time student, we have to report you classes as 4 weeks. If we sent over the 5 weeks then the VA would say you are 3/4 time student and you would receive even less pay."

    Sounded fishy to me, so I called the VA GI center and asked them the same question. I was told:

    "The UoP does report only 4 week classes, I don't know why they do it. Other schools that have the same class length report 5 week classes and the students get paid for the full month. All the UoP has to do is certify you guys for the full 5 weeks and you would get the full amount."

    2 different companies, 2 different stories. I called another VA rep, waited another 25 minutes on hold. He told me almost word for word what the first one told me. Now I am the type of person that likes to check my naughty and nice list three times. I called back to VA and asked a third rep. Only 15 minutes on hold this time. Same story, UoP should report 5 week classes, we do go 5 weeks, if we only go 4 then I want to know why I have to make attendance post 5 weeks. This rep said that as students we should all write in to UoP and make them change it.

    Dont take my word for it. Call the VA. Here is the direct number to the GI Bill center (888-442-4551 Select 1 for touch tone phone, Select 2 for Post 9/11 GI Bill, then Select 0 for a Rep) Wait the 5, 10, 20 minutes to talk to them. Get the facts for yourself and join me. I have already sent in 3 letters and intend to not stop till they certify the truth to the VA.

    We go 5 weeks, pay us for 5 weeks please!

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