WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it has provided certificates of eligibility to nearly 200,000 applicants for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Over 61,000 payments totaling over $50 million to schools and students have been issued since the August 1, 2009, implementation of the new program.
“Our top priority is providing our students and schools with accurate and timely benefit payments so Veterans can focus all of their energy on studies,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Patrick W. Dunne.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill authorizes the most extensive educational assistance opportunity since the passage of the original GI Bill in 1944. The maximum benefit allows every eligible Veteran, Servicemember, Reservist, and National Guard member an opportunity to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public institution at no cost.
Since VA began accepting Veterans’ applications on May 1, 2009 and school enrollment certifications on July 6, 2009, approximately 277,000 applications for eligibility determinations and/or school enrollment certifications have been received for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
During this same period, VA received over 603,000 applications for other education benefit programs, such as the Montgomery GI Bill; processed more than 503,000 of those applications; and authorized payments to students totaling over $1 billion.
VA’s current average claims processing time for Post-9/11 GI Bill claims is 35 days. This number temporarily increases during the fall term as most Veterans begin their school year. Moving forward, VA’s goal is to process Veterans’ initial claims in less than 25 days and re-enrollments in subsequent terms in an average of 10 days.
VA has over 900 personnel processing education claims. To address the large fall enrollment workload, employees are working overtime, and VA has rehired retired claims processors to provide additional processing support.
VA also contacted schools directly to address questions or concerns about the new program, and sent letters to schools to keep them updated on VA’s progress in implementing the new program.
“We appreciate the cooperation we are receiving from Veterans and educational institutions as we implement this new and complex program,” added Under Secretary Dunne.
Post-9/11 GI Bill students should be aware that a full housing allowance payment will not be issued until after the first full month of enrollment. Students beginning school in August will receive a pro-rated housing payment in September, and a full payment beginning October 1, 2009.
Additional information about VA education benefits can be found at www.GIBILL.VA.gov or by calling 1-888-GIBILL-1, where over 100 call agents are standing by to assist Veterans’ with their questions and concerns.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs