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What Can My Brother Do to Straighten Out This Mess?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My brother is a proud vet of the Iraq freedom war. He got out of the military in 2004. He went to his first school and upon receiving his GI Bill was put down as a chapter 30, he enlisted in 2000. He then left school and worked for a couple of years. He then went to a new school, school of the arts where he was told that he would get money and he would not have to pay the school a cent. The school made an error and thought he was a Chapter 33. Though he kept telling them he was getting bills, they told him do not worry it is taken care of. He just found out that because he is a Chapter 30, he owes the school $16,000. He is devastated. I know that I have read that you do not retroactively pay back money owed, but this is NOT his fault. Something has to be done to remedy this. He has the money and is willing to switch to a Chapter 33, but he is not going to pay $16,000. I am also a vet and hope that we can figure out a solution.

A: The VA can normally retroactively pay GI Bill benefits up to one-year back. Your brother needs to contact the VA, explain what happened and see if he can switch to Chapter 33 and get his school paid before it drags out any longer. If some of what he owes is back over a year, he will most likely get stuck paying for that part of it.

I would also suggest he sees his school’s VA Certifying Official and enlist that persons help. I hope that was not the person that told him not to worry in the first place.

Sometimes the smaller Regional or even the State VA Offices are more responsive to deal with being they cover a smaller area and generally have less of a workload than the main VA office.

If the VA ends up not retroactively paying, or what your brother owes is over a year old, then your brother has little option but to switch to Chapter 33 anyway, so he doesn’t get further in debt, and end up paying what he owes to the school.

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