Under current VA regulations, the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is generally tied to the zip code of the school’s location. However, in many cases, a school may have several satellite locations, but each of those locations do not have a separately registered facility code with the VA, so instead, the housing allowance is based on the registered location of the school headquarters.
What was happening at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Wilsonville campus was housing costs were much higher than at their school headquarters in Klamath Falls, so Wilsonville students were getting the same housing amount as their Klamath Falls brethren, but paying significantly higher housing costs.
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) sent a letter to the VA urging them to make changes to this policy last week. And surprising so, and in record time I might add, OIT recently announced that the VA had in fact granted the Wilsonville campus their own facility code in an exception to policy that will now allow Wilsonville students a Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance more in line with their actual housing costs.
This VA decision could have far-reaching implications as it now “opens the door” for other universities to also petition the VA for facility codes for their current unregistered satellite campuses. The signing Oregon legislative members also urged the VA to make more systemic changes that would make the program fairer for veterans nationwide.
Wyden said in an interview “The VA’s metric for deciding how much veterans going to school on the (Post 9/11) GI Bill receive in their monthly housing allowance does not take into account the higher cost of housing at some satellite campuses. This means many veterans are being shortchanged for choosing to study in more expensive urban areas. While it seems the VA is fixing this on a case-by-case basis at the moment, I will continue to work with my colleagues and the VA to push for a more systemic fix to the problem. It is good to see the VA willing to take a look at ways to make their housing allowance fairer for veterans taking advantage of the (Post 9/11) GI Bill.”