In 2018, VA made a promise to make Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) payments whole for Post-9/11 GI Bill® students impacted by implementation of the Colmery Act, which mandates location-based housing payments.
VA worked closely with schools to fulfill that promise. As of December 31, 2020, VA reached a major milestone for delivering those payments.
What does this mean?
The Colmery Act mandates that GI Bill students are paid a Monthly Housing Allowance based on the physical location where they take the majority of their classes, so students will be paid according to their campus location. Between August 1, 2018, when the law went into effect, and December 1, 2019, when VA systems were updated to pay the housing allowance in accordance with the change, GI Bill students continued to be paid under the old rules.
To account for MHA payments during that time, schools were required to re-certify enrollments for any students who took classes at a campus with a different housing rate than for which they were paid. Schools were given until December 31, 2020, to re-certify – and in doing so making student payments whole.
VA worked closely with schools to re-certify students. This was a joint effort by VA and the schools. VA implemented IT updates and trained on the process, while schools made the enrollment updates based on tracking for each of the GI Bill students.
In total, VA held 17 training events and 12 focus groups, sent 41 emails to more than 53,000 School Certifying Officials, and travelled to schools across nine states during the GI Bill School Tour. Additionally, VA communicated with more than 600,000 GI Bill students about the MHA changes.
What’s the Impact?
Through these efforts, VA has positively impacted affected GI Bill students:
- Over $9.6 million was paid to more than 6,100 students who were previously underpaid.
- More than 63,000 enrollments were corrected over the eight-month timespan.
VA is dedicated to delivering GI Bill students the benefits they have earned and to continuing support for and serve Veterans in pursuit of their education and career goals.
Terry Warren is the stakeholder engagement supervisor at VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration