The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is considering a policy that would alter the way it collects prior debts owed by veterans, a change that could have a significant impact on both veterans and colleges and universities.
If implemented, the policy would allow VA to recoup debts owed by veterans from the tuition and fees payments that are made to institutions under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Currently, the VA recoups debts from housing and other payments that go directly to the veteran but not from tuition and fee payments that go directly to institutions.
The higher education association community—led by the National Association of College and University Business Officers—has asked VA to reconsider, saying the policy would potentially violate “the faith and intent of the enrollment certification process.” Most colleges and universities allow veterans to register and attend classes while waiting for the tuition and fee payment to arrive.
The groups also are concerned that if the policy moves forward, veterans could find themselves with insufficient benefits to cover the cost of their educations.
“If [a] veteran decides to withdraw because of problems related to a tuition and fee offset, he or she has incurred additional debt to the school, or depending on the timing, to both VA and the school,” the groups wrote. “If the veteran completes the term, but does not have the funds to pay the outstanding tuition balance, his or her debt simply shifts from VA to the institution. Since few institutions will allow a student with an outstanding debt to register for the next term, the veteran’s ability to continue his or her education is then in jeopardy.”
To read the letter, click here.
Veterans' Debt Collectors
Inside Higher Ed