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How Does That Work When the VA Says I Owe Them Money?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I had signed up for school, but didn’t get a chance to complete either semester, and had signed up for my GI Bill, but now they are saying that I owe them money…how does that usually work?

A: The way it works is when the VA pays for your schooling, they expect you to finish the term they paid for. Yes, I know they are “your” benefits, but the VA is paying the bill, so you play by their rules.

The VA is very generous in that they have a one-time/first-time policy where you can drop or not finish up to six credits one-time and they will not ask any questions as to why and you will not have to pay them back.

In your case, you used up you one-time/first-time plus you didn’t finish a second semester, which is more than likely where your VA debt is coming from. After your first-time/one-time has been used up and you don’t finish a second semester, then the VA will want to know why.

If the reason you dropped was due to mitigating circumstances (circumstances beyond your control), then you would not have to pay back anything. However, if your circumstances were non-mitigating (as they obviously were in your case), then they will require you to pay them back before they will make any more of “your” GI Bill payments to you.

The purpose to the GI Bill is to train you in a career. The VA is the watchdog to ensure you don’t squander away your GI Bill benefits and end up not having anything to show for them. With two strikes already, it looks like you are one that needs that oversight.

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