Starting this month, all students receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits must verify their school enrollment each month or risk forfeiting their housing allowance.

The change has been planned for months and was already required for some students since last fall. But the new mandate also has the potential to be a costly mistake for some individuals if they overlook the new monthly messages from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“If you fail to verify enrollment for two consecutive months, your [housing] payments will be placed on hold,” department officials warned in a message explaining the verification requirement. “By regularly verifying your enrollment, you protect your GI Bill entitlement by preventing charges for classes or training you did not attend.”

As many colleges begin their spring semesters this month, some students could be seeing the verification messages for the first time — or potentially ignoring them as unwanted spam.

VA plans to send the messages out on the last day of each month, and give students several days to respond before deactivating the links.

Department officials have been encouraging students to sign up for text message verification or email alerts for months, in the hopes that no one would be caught off guard by the new requirement.

Late last month, as part of that campaign, VA officials also released a new video on how to sign up for text message alerts.

The housing stipend linked to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is designed to help students avoid the need for an after-school job to pay for rent and groceries cost.

Since payouts are based on the location of the student and the school, the stipend can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000 a month in the most costly cities. Losing that money could have serious financial consequences for students and their families.

About 360,000 students are attending classes on the Post-9/11 GI Bill this year. Of that total, about half will be affected by the new verification changes.

Students with additional questions on the new verification requirements can visit the department’s website for more information.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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