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Quarterly Meeting with VA Yields Reminders, Recommendations

August 8, 2013

On July 22, members of NACUBO's VA Payments and Processes Workgroup met with Department of Veterans Affairs staff to assess the processes and systems in place for administering Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. VA explained that, starting at the end of August, it will send monthly "School AR Reports" to School Certifying Officials (SCOs) listing school debts. The new report will list students' names, file numbers, debt balances, and when debts were created and include a cover letter explaining how to return payment.

New School Certifying Official Handbook Published

VA officials noted that the new edition of the School Certifying Official Handbook was published on VA's website on June 6. A number of revisions appear on page 7 of the new handbook; the most significant addition is detailed guidance on the school overpayment and debt issue that has created confusion for institutions since the end of 2012. If not properly processed by institutions, institutional debts will be recouped by the Department of Treasury through its offset program.

Institutions Must Submit EFT Information to VA

Institutions should submit electronic funds transfer (EFT) information to VA as soon as possible in order to receive payments, including the Annual Reporting Fee, this spring. Federal agencies are required by law to make most payments electronically. Institutions not receiving payments from VA electronically may be contacted by the Treasury Department regarding noncompliance.

Last fall, VA sent letters to SCOs at institutions still receiving payments by check informing them of the requirement that all payments to institutions be made by EFT. The letters included details on how to submit EFT information to VA. If they have not done so already, business officers should contact their SCO to locate the letter and instructions. Those with questions should contact the institution's VA Education Liaison Representative (ELR), who can be identified on the VA's website.

Reminder on Overpayments

VA notes that some institutions are cutting checks payable to Department of Treasury and mailing them directly to Treasury in an attempt to refund VA for overpayment of Chapter 33 tuition, fees, and/or Yellow Ribbon program payments. This is not a valid method for returning funds to VA. Refunds made payable and sent to Treasury will cause a significant delay in applying funds to debts. This may also result in erroneous debt collection notices being mailed to institutions and possible erroneous referral of debts to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP).

To properly refund VA for excess Chapter 33 tuition, fees, and/or Yellow Ribbon program payments, institutions should:

  1. Send a check or money order to the VA Debt Management Center (DMC), made payable to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It is essential that institutions include the tear-off remittance sheet attached to the DMC Collection Notice with the payment and mail both to:

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Debt Management Center
    Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building
    P.O. Box 11930
    St Paul, MN 55111-0930

    Note: Checks made payable to Department of Treasury or any other agency and mailed to an alternate address will cause a delay in applying funds to debts and possible erroneous referral to TOP.
    Note: Do not send a photocopy of the remittance sheet. 

  2. Make payment using a major credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer from a checking or savings account. This can be done online by visiting the DMC website or by calling the DMC toll free number (800.827.0648). Institutions paying online or by phone will be required to provide details from the DMC collection notice.
  3. Send a payment to VA from any Western Union Agent location or by visiting www.westernunion.com. The Western Union Agent or the website will require a host city code, which is "VADMC." You will need the code to complete the transaction.

Additional options for returning excess tuition, fees, or Yellow Ribbon payments include:

  1. If payment of tuition, fees, and Yellow Ribbon is received in the form of a paper check issued by U.S. Department of Treasury, institutions may return the uncashed Treasury check to:

    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Financial Management Service
    P.O. Box 51318
    Philadelphia, PA 19115-6316

  2. If payment of tuition, fees, and Yellow Ribbon is received by Automated Clearing House (ACH) Direct Deposit, institutions may return the ACH payment in full. To do so, institutions should work with their financial institution and request the full amount of the payment be returned to VA using an R31 ACH Return Code.

If institutions have questions regarding how and when to repay VA, they should contact their assigned Education Liaison Representative. Questions regarding debt balances may be directed to the VA Debt Management Center.

Join the Discussion

Members are encouraged to join NACUBO's VA Processes eGroup. This community, similar to a listserv, allows members to share questions, issues, concerns, and success stores related to administering VA programs.

Contact

Bryan Dickson
Policy Analyst
202.861.2505
E-mail