Tester Pushes to Save Taxpayer Dollars, Cut Debt for Veterans

Senator Calls on VA to Take Preventive Measures After Student Veterans Wrongly Charged for Education Benefits

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is using his powerful position on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to save taxpayers money and cut debt for veterans.

In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Tester is calling on the VA to reform its administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill after reports surfaced that student veterans were being overcharged for their education benefits because of miscommunication between their schools and the VA.

“I am very concerned by the rate of improper payments being made to veterans receiving education benefits,” Tester wrote. “Overpayments are a serious matter. They cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year and the way they are clawed back from veterans creates nothing but confusion and financial hardship. Veterans should not be left holding the bill for programmatic mistakes for a benefit they have earned, and it’s past time for further action from the VA to reform this process.”

Last October, the Government Accountability Office reported that the VA made $416 million worth of inaccurate Post-9/11 GI Bill payments in 2014. This waste of taxpayer money has left approximately one out of every four student veterans who use the program holding the bill for mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

According to the Government Accountability Office, schools were reporting veterans’ enrollment status to the VA before enrollment deadlines, so many student veterans changed their course load after their enrollment status was already reported to the VA. This resulted in schools charging the VA for classes veterans did not take. When the VA realized this mistake, it fell upon student veterans to pay back the difference.

The VA has previously agreed with the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations to reform this process, but has yet to take any action to implement them. Tester is pushing Shulkin to inform student veterans and schools about the cause and ramifications of overpayments, improve reporting methods, and alleviate the financial burden on veterans.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA has issued $66 billion in education benefits to over 1.6 million veterans and beneficiaries.

The report was released by the Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan congressional watchdog service that studies how the government is using taxpayer money.

Tester’s letter can be viewed HERE.