WASHINGTON, D. C. — The Veterans Affairs Department launched new online tools this week to make it easier for veterans, service members and family members to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and learn more about VA’s approved colleges, universities and other education and training programs across the country, as well as to provide feedback or file a complaint regarding problems that may arise in dealing with educational institutions.
“We are pleased that Post-9/11 veterans are taking advantage of this significant benefit program,” said Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits. “The new GI Bill Comparison Tool will help future beneficiaries as they make decisions about what education or training program best fits their needs.”
The GI Bill Comparison Tool provides key information about college affordability and brings together information from more than 17 different online sources and three federal agencies, including the number of students receiving VA education benefits at each school. It is one item in a series of resources VA is launching in response to President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13607, which directs agencies to implement and promote “Principles of Excellence” for education institutions that interact with veterans, service members and their families, and to ensure beneficiaries have the information they need to make educated choices about VA education benefits and approved programs, VA officials said.
Recently, VA also instituted a GI Bill online complaint system, designed to collect feedback from veterans, service members and their families who are experiencing problems with educational institutions receiving funding from federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits programs provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Defense Department’s military tuition assistance program.
Students can submit a complaint if they believe their school is failing to follow the Principles of Excellence, (i.e. unfair recruiting practices, credit transfer or change in degree requirements) through the centralized online reporting system. When feedback is received, agencies will contact the school on behalf of the student and work toward a resolution. Complaints and their resolution will be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network, accessible by over 650 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for use in enhancing and coordinating law enforcement investigations.
The executive order, signed April 27, 2012, directs federal agencies to provide meaningful cost and quality information on schools, prevent deceptive recruiting practices and provide high-quality academic and student support services. VA works closely with partner institutions to ensure the GI Bill beneficiaries’ needs are met, officials said, noting that more than 5,000 education institutions have agreed to the Principles of Excellence.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a comprehensive education benefit created by Congress in 2008. In general, veterans and service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001, are eligible. Since 2009, VA has distributed more than $30 billion in the form of tuition and other education-related payments to more than 1 million veterans, service members and their families, as well as to the universities, colleges and trade schools they attend.
More information regarding the GI Bill feedback systems can be found at www.benefits.va.gov.