Back to School = Back to GI Bill Benefits Claims
It’s as predictable as the rise and set of the sun: After the school bell rings, the registrar office doors close, and the last freshman finds their class, GI Bill benefits claim forms begin to pour into the VA offices everywhere in a torrential storm. This is not a bad thing, mind you, but the resulting administrative logjam – and delay in payment – always comes as an unhappy surprise to many applicants. Don’t let that be you. Here are a few tips we’ve gleaned from VA employees and students that might help you get your claim processed faster. Or at least it will give you something to read (besides your homework) while you wait.
There are a few things you can do to help your claim get processed:
- Find out who your school’s Veterans certifying official is, and contact him or her directly. Ask if they plan to send your paperwork after the add/drop deadline (the VA receives most claims after) or if they send it as soon as your enrollment is complete. Encourage your VCO to send it as quickly as possible.
- If you add or drop classes – you MUST update your VCO. Changes can affect your payment – especially if you drop below full time status.
- Find out what benefits your school offers to Veterans. Some schools offer scholarships and/or interest-free tuition deferment for Veterans. In some states, Departments of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Service Organizations offer Veterans financial assistance (rent/ bills) if you get behind.
- Go straight to the source. If you know that your school has submitted your paperwork, and you haven’t heard a peep from anyone about your claim, call 1-888-GIBILL-1. Before you call, expect two things: You will have to schedule a call-back appointment. You will have to call them a number of times.
- Take advantage of Twitter. Tweet your questions with #askVBA during their twitter chat session on Thursday, Sept 13 from 3:30 – 4:30 EST.
- Use the VBA Facebook page as a resource – it is regularly updated with tips and information.
Last fall it took an average of 23 days for a GI Bill claim to be processed. According to one VA blogger, the VA hired more than 700 new employees to help process GI Bill claims before the fall 2012 semester in hopes of expediting the process time. The good news is – more Veterans are using their education benefits and pursuing their education goals. The downside is that it might take a little while to get paperwork pushed, I’s dotted and t’s crossed.
In the meantime, get to class, with our thanks.
If you have any other tips, please tell us in the comments below.