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Education and Training

Information About GI Bill Overpayments and Debts

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IHL Debt Information

Student - Debt

What causes debt with VA Education Programs?

If you decrease your training time (i.e. drop classes, leave school, etc.) and we have already processed a payment for tuition and fees, an overpayment will occur. When the School Certifying Official (SCO) notifies us of a change, a debt is created against your account. The school wil issue any refunds in accordance with their internal policy, which may not fully cover the debt with the VA. If the amount refunded by the school does not satisfy the debt, you are responsible for the remainder.

● If the school refunds money directly to the VA, we will credit your account any amount the school refunds.
● If they refund money directly to you, you must clear the debt with us.

A decrease in your credit hours could also result in changes to your housing allowance and books & supplies stipend. If VA has already issued you a payment for the term a debt will be created on your account.

You are responsible for keeping track of your tuition and fee account balance and payments. Vist your schools' financial office regularly to review your account, ensure the charges are correct and that payments and refunds are processed correctly, contact your SCO to ensure the certification information they send to us matches your schedule.

Please contact the Debt Management Center if you receive a debt notification from the VA. The Debt Management Center is the authoritative source of debt collection information. You can reach them at 800 827-0648 or e-mail them atdmc.ops@va.gov.

Why do I have a debt with the VA over tuition & fees paid to my school? 

When you enroll in school and take classes, you enter into an agreement with the school to pay for your classes and the associated fees. VA pays the tuition and fees to the school on your behalf when the School Certifying Official (SCO) certifies that you are enrolled in classes. By law, you are responsible for any debt incurred while receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. VA is required by law to recoup any debt.

You are responsible for keeping track of your tuition and fee account balance. Visit your school's financial office regularly to review your account, ensure the charges are correct and that payments and refunds are processed correctly. Contact your SCO to make sure the certification sent to the VA matches your schedule. Please contact the Debt Management Center (DMC) when you receive a debt letter in order to make arrangements to pay the debt or discuss options if repaying the debt will cause a financial hardship.

The Debt Management Center may be contacted at 800-827-0648 or 612-713-6415 for international callers, or email at dmc.ops@va.gov

If you have questions about where the debt came from or how VA processed your education benefits, please call 1-888-442-4551.

What steps does the VA take to collect a debt under any GI Bill education program? 

When an account has an overpayment or debt you can expect us to take the following steps to collect the debt:

  1. The Regional Processing Office (RPO) that processed your payment will send a letter to you and/or your school explaining the debt and amount. The letter also indicates that you will receive further communication from the Debt Management Center (DMC) Note: Make sure the address we have for you is up-to-date;
  2. Debt payments processed at RPOs are electronically transmitted to the DMC for the collection process. It generally takes 30 days for DMC to establish an account receivable in your name. Note: After you receive a debt notification letter from  DMC, all payments should be sent to DMC;
  3. You will receive an initial debt notification letter including your rights and obligations regarding the debt. You have 30 days to contact DMC and repay the entire debt, establish a repayment plan or request a waiver of debt. If you haven't contacted DMC within 30 days, we will begin to offset the debt amounts from future GI Bill payments. Note: If you did not contact DMC within 30 days of receiving the initial letter, additional notification letters will be sent from DMC explaining collection efforts and what will be expected;
  4. Credit reporting agencies are notified approximately 90 days after initial notification of the debtif appropriate arrangements are not made;
  5. Debt is referred to the Department of the Treasury Cross Servicing approximately 90 days after initial notification of the debt if appropriate arrangements are not made;
  6. Debt is referred to Department of the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) 120 days after initial notification of the debt if appropriate arrangements are not made.

If at any time during this process, you contact DMC to dispute the debt, request a waiver, or fulfill your debt obligation, the steps listed above are either suspended or amended.

How can I transfer debts between programs?

You can elect to use benefits under another benefit program for which you are eligible even if you have a debt under your current benefit program.

If you are set up on a payment plan under your current benefit program, the payment plan only applies to the debt under that benefit. Once you elect to receive benefits under another program, the debt will be recouped from your last payment under your current benefit program, up to the full amount of your last payment (in other words, there's no deduction amount from the last payment, the last payment is completely recouped unless an amount lesser than the amount of the last payment pays the debt in full).

If the debt is not completely paid, we will transfer the remaining amount of the debt to the new benefit program and the payments under the new benefit program will be reduced until the debt is paid in full.

Once any remaining amount of debt is transferred over to your new benefit program, you may contact VA's Debt Management Center (DMC) to make payment arrangements under your new benefit program.

What are mitigating circumstances?

If a student drops a course or withdraws from school after the drop period and receives a non punitive grade, VA will reduce benefits effective the first day of the term unless mitigating circumstances are found. Mitigating circumstances are circumstances beyond the student's control that prevent the student from continuing in school or that cause the student to reduce credits.

Examples are:

  • An illness or injury afflicting the student during the enrollment period.
  • An illness or death in the student’s immediate family.
  • An unavoidable change in the student’s conditions of employment.
  • An unavoidable geographical transfer resulting from the student’s employment.
  • Immediate family or financial obligations beyond the control of the claimant that require him or her to suspend pursuit of the program of education to obtain employment.
  • Discontinuance of the course by the school.
  • Unanticipated active military service, including active duty for training.
  • Unanticipated difficulties with childcare arrangements the student has made for the period during which he or she is attending classes.

When a student terminates or reduces after the drop period and a non punitive grade is assigned, mitigating circumstances are an issue. If mitigating circumstances are needed and adequate evidence of mitigating circumstances is not received with the Notice of Change in Student Status; VA will not pay for the course or courses in question.

If the student has already been paid for the course or courses, VA will create an overpayment (subject to the 6-credit hour exclusion) from the beginning of the term, quarter, or semester. If you know what the student’s mitigating circumstance is, concisely describe the circumstance in remarks.