Why Student Vets Using The GI Bill Aren't Immune To Debt

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Thome

Knowing yourself is a deliberate and critical step toward becoming a GI Bill expert. It means opening and maintaining the lines of communication with your GI Bill with school personnel. Most importantly, it means admitting you are responsible for knowing the debts you incur while using the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

How and why to avoid the debt trap.

The greatest danger to your success in higher education is failure to follow through with a class. I’m not talking about failing a class — even I did that a couple times — but withdrawing after the Department of Veterans Affairs has paid the school the GI Bill tuition and fees on your behalf.

Related: How to be a GI bill expert: Know your payment »

I’ve seen students attend an expensive private school only to leave mid-semester saddled with debt in the five-figure range. The frustration is understandable, but the reality of who’s responsible for the debt doesn’t change.

Debt can be avoided if you carefully consider how many credit hours you can afford to take through proper time management. Debt under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is not to be trifled with; it can be collected through future monthly housing payments, disability payments, and even your tax refund. There are mitigating circumstances when something tragic or inopportune happens that’s outside of your control. VA even has a policy to account for failing grades that’s advantageous to you.

Always keep your school certifying official informed of your enrollment.

The school certifying official, or SCO, is the individual responsible for transmitting your enrollment information to VA. Doing so triggers a payment to be processed on your behalf. Your official should be your battle buddy. He or she should know how long you served on active duty, what benefit program you’re using, and have a copy of your academic plan. A SCO who fails to learn this information about you should be a cause for concern; however, you also need to make an effort to keep this person informed. For example, your SCO may not know you have a kicker or college fund contract from your service. In this case, provide a copy and send a separate copy to VA using our secure email system.

Related: How to be a GI bill expert: Know your surroundings »

Knowing yourself may be the hardest lesson to learn. It takes time to master yourself especially if you’re going to college for the first time with the GI Bill. Recognize before you start classes that you are responsible for any debt incurred while studying. Find your SCO and become his or her ally. Do these and you’ll become a GI Bill expert.

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army aviation officials have launched an effort to restore full air assault capability to the 101st Airborne Division — a capability the Screaming Eagles have been without since 2015.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump belittled his former defense secretary, James Mattis, by characterizing him as the "world's most overrated general," according to a Washington Post report published Wednesday.

The account from numerous officials came during an afternoon closed door meeting with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Wednesday. In the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly brought up dissenting views towards the president's decision to withdraw the vast majority of roughly 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria.

Read More Show Less

Retired two-star Navy. Adm. Joe Sestak is the highest ranking — and perhaps, least known — veteran who is trying to clinch the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Sestak has decades of military experience, but he is not getting nearly as much media attention as fellow veterans Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Another veteran, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has dropped out of the race.

Read More Show Less

After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.

But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.

Read More Show Less