After Clerical Errors Led to Suspension, Howard Reapplies for G.I. Benefits, Awaits Answer

Howard University temporarily lost its GI Bill status for any new students on June 15 after "a pattern of clerical errors" impacted student veterans, reports military.com. The school is now nearing the end of an allocated 60-day window to fix its eligibility issues to avoid a longer and harsher suspension. 

According to an investigation by military.com, "Howard repeatedly mishandled veteran education benefits" for at least the past year, with veterans reporting disappearing or incorrect paperwork. For example, one student, Tiahna Pantovich, told military.com that she didn't receive her housing stipend, which can amount to roughly $2,000 per month in the D.C. area, after Howard misreported her degree program. Several other students shared similar stories to military.com, with some saying they were never warned of the school's suspension.

The District of Columbia's State Approving Agency (D.C. SAA) is the agency responsible for revoking Howard's GI eligibility. That a state agency would take such action is rare, explained military.com, which reported that such moves usually reserved for predatory schools, not elite universities such as Howard, which is known for being one of the nation's most prestigious historically Black colleges.

In a statement to military.com, a VA spokesperson said that the D.C. SAA suspended the school to afford time to "correct GI Bill approval deficiencies." Howard spokesman Frank Tramble told military.com that new rules created by the D.C. SAA "caught the school off guard" when it submitted its paperwork on March 22, though Tramble did not point to any "specific bureaucratic changes Howard had missed," noted the news service.

Howard has resubmitted its application to the D.C. SAA and is awaiting a final decision that's expected to come by the end of the weekend. Should the school fail to secure eligibility, Tramble told military.com that Howard is considering creating a stipend program for impacted veterans.

Meanwhile, President of Veterans Education Success Carrie Wofford told military.com that although Howard has had issues with processing veteran benefits, the university's troubles are minimal when compared predatory actions taken by fraudulent schools.

"It would be a disgrace if VA were to cut off Howard for paperwork compliance but not do anything about the known fraudsters," Wofford told military.com. "VA and the D.C. SAA should help Howard figure out the paperwork issues and resolve it. Howard is arguably the most important historically Black college in the country and provides a great education. VA should be helping great schools and focusing any punishment on fraudsters."