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Why Isn’t College Housing Expenses Considered a Fee?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My tuition is fully paid, but my housing isn’t. Isn’t housing a fee? Why isn’t it covered? I know I will be getting BAH, but the housing fees will take all of it. Is there some other program I should look into?

Also my BAH comes after my bill and the financial service lady says my classes will be dropped if not paid by the date even though she knows it’s coming. Isn’t there a waiver?!! I am stressing out about this. I thought it was all taken care of. I wasn’t aware that I would have to spend around $10,000 for school. Please tell me some good news.

A: Eligible fees paid by the VA are fees that are mandatory – fees that all students, or students in a particular degree program, pay. Because you are not required to live in a college dorm, and many students do not, room and board is not a covered fee.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is meant to pay for housing, so if you are in a dorm and paying both room and board, I’m not surprised your housing allowance is not covering all of your room and board; it was only designed to cover rent.

As far as the timing of when you receive your housing allowance, the way the payment process is structured, you are always a month behind in getting paid. While most rent is due around the first of each month, you don’t get your housing allowance until the first or second week of each month.

The point is you need some funds up front to cover your expenses. When you get your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, you can use that money to replenish your funds. The Post 9/11 GI bill is a very good educational assistance program, but that is all it was ever meant to be – an assistance program. It was never designed to pay for everything up front.

As far as a waiver – there isn’t any, however, most schools are flexible with your payment schedule if they know you (and they) will get paid by the GI Bill, but they don’t have to make special arrangements for you. As I said, you should have enough funds available to pay your bills on time and then use your Post 9/11 GI Bill money to replenish your funds.

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