Student Veterans of America is recommending that people who must give back their $3,000 GI Bill advances quickly assess their finances to determine the best way to repay the money.
The Veterans Affairs Department has announced it will start reducing living stipents, beginning April 1, by $750 per month to recoup the fall advance payments.
Brian Hawthorne, legislative director for the student group, said people who cannot afford to have that much reduced from their monthly checks need to make other arrangements.
"We are advising our members to look at their personal finances and ensure that they can afford that amount," Hawthorne said. “We are suggesting that if this amount will negatively impact their bottom line or their family situation, they should call right away.
“It has been made very clear to us by VA that if it is too aggressive, they are willing to work with the student veterans that need to adjust the pace,” Hawthorne said.
His comments come as Rep. Glenn Nye, D-Va., a member of the House armed services and veterans’ affairs committees, is pressing VA to revise its recoupment plans. Nye says he worries that $750 per month could prove too much for some veterans.
Hawthorne said he doesn’t want veterans to be alarmed. “It is important for vets to realize that this is not a one-size-fits-all plan, and that they are in control of it, if they choose to be by calling VA debt management.”
The automatic repayment applies only to those who received the $3,000 advance payments last fall and are receiving spring payments under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Anyone who received the pay advances who is not now drawing a monthly living stipend must make separate arrangements with VA to pay back the money.
Flexible repayment terms have been promised by VA officials as long as the $3,000 is recouped within 12 months.
VA officials said the more than 122,000 people who received the $3,000 advance payments have received at least one notice about repayment, and they are about to receive a second that will include details on how to contact VA to arrange a payment schedule.