MAILROOM: VRAP – What Have You Experienced?

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VRAP Veterans Retraining Assistance Program

I got an email yesterday from Curtis Coy, the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity at VA.

The email was intended to inform veterans about the VRAP program with a focus on the fact that its funding will cut off on March 31, 2914.

For those unaware of what VRAP is, the program was created under President Obama’s VOW program.

VRAP was designed for veterans who were not qualified for any other VA training program. The veteran needed to be unemployed, at between the ages of 35 to 60. The goal of VRAP was to provide training to qualified veterans to help them find work. The training was to be technical in nature. And, the veteran would receive a stipend of around $1,500 per month.

Sounds like a good deal on the surface.

Despite this, I have been hearing mixed reviews about the program. So, my purpose in writing about it is to encourage veterans to speak up about what they are experiencing.

Program enrollment ended on October 1, 2013. I am not hopeful that they will open up enrollment in the future in light of the economic issues faced by the country.

VA claims that 140,000 unemployed veterans applied. Around 125,000 unemployed veterans were approved. However, only 70,500 veterans enrolled in a training program.

To me, these numbers are somewhat curious. Only 60 percent of veterans who were approved were actually able to enroll in school.

Of that number, VA does not give any indication of the number of veterans who completed a training program. It also did not provide the number of veterans who found employment later. I hope the program was not a total wash.

Veterans on the web have been talking about VRAP periodically. The consensus seems to be that finding a suitable program for training is tricky given certain constraints.

If you had an experience with VRAP, please tell us about it here.

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7 Comments

  1. While I wasn’t a recipient of VRAP, I have and continue to work with many of the Veterans who applied for the program. I do need to clarify something first, VRAP does not cover tuition, only provides the stipend which was to be used for this purpose if possible. Most schools require upfront financing before acceptance into the program. This forced many veterans into taking out student loans and applications for grants. In this case many veterans found themselves unable to attend training because of previous outstanding student loans.

    As the program begins winding down,I and my counterparts in this area, receive listings of veterans who have supposedly completed training. I am finding that many are still in training due to changing fields, or because they entered a program which is longer than one year. Some veterans applied, yet did not follow thru with training either because they found employment, couldn’t obtain financing, or simply because they could not deal with the academics (remember some of these vets have been out of school for 30 or more years). And then there are the ones who applied simply for the stipend only to find out that it comes with a price and are unable to comply.

    All of this said, There are a number of veterans who took advantage of the program in the right way. Several I’ve been in contact recently, have found employment or are in active job search. The program has seen a number of positive results, but there are also negatives as well in the form of the debt many veterans had to incur.

  2. I am one of the veterans who was qualified for the program, but chose not to participate. I applied for financial aid, and was approved for a $5500.00 grant, and began looking for a program and school to attend. An ideal situation, would have been online training, as I do not live within commuting distance of any state college. The first thing I discovered, was, online programs are not supported by VRAP. I looked into the possibility of relocating, to live in closer proximity to a school that would work with the VA and VRAP, but, their tuition was so high, I would have had to take out student loans to participate in their program. The online training I found, would have only cost me $800.00, and I could have completed it in 6 months. The VRAP stipend would have been most welcome, and certainly would have made a huge difference in quality of life,

    I think, most schools, that were approved by the VA to participate in this program, knew exactly how much money was being offered to veterans for living expenses, and they adjusted their tuition costs accordingly. If the VA ever comes up with a training program that will actually cover tuition and living expenses, and enable a person to complete a course of study in a timely manner, I would be very interested. I am left feeling that the VA wasted my time, and that their only purpose in offering this ‘retraining’ program, was to further bloat an out of control cottage industry aimed at providing ‘technical training’ of dubious worth to people who can least afford to be taken advantage of.

  3. The single greatest economic issue facing our country is SPENDING.

    Each taxpaying veteran now has a federal-debt liability of $1.1 Million.

    Can a veteran afford to pay off their share of what progressive politicians have forced upon them?

    While VRAP might have helped some veterans to secure a job with a living wage, there are millions of other veterans that are being forced from the middle-class into poverty.

    These same unemployed, low-income veterans will need to fight tooth and nail, figuratively, to find a way to put food in the mouths of their family, in the very near future.

    http://rare.us/story/your-share-of-the-national-debt-is-now-1-1-million/

  4. Found this page via the search phrase “vrap vets now in debt.” This is my guess as to the “fall out” regarding this poorly conceived program. My first impression was that it was a hollow, posturing gesture from Obama.

    The major drawback, here in the Information Age, was that online programs weren’t approved. A joke on applicants. You can imagine how I felt to learn that even web design courses had to be taken “on site”…. Where you have to go to the school and take their courses; ONLINE!!! Joke’s on me.

    Now, this is what I was lead to believe; by them. Lo and behold, some VA rep emails me seven months later – after pulling my hair out in searches and enduring their online application process FOUR times (each time taking up to six hours!!) – saying there are approved Online programs. They do have a limited array of IT programs specific for vrap.

    However, they complicated this issue (as well) by offering the courses as bundles. Meaning you had to choose between prearranged packages as to personalized or streamlined choices. The one I wanted was (thus) over $7k.

    As we know, there’s no tuition aide. So, in essence, what’s the point? I am single, no major habits, no spurious spending etc. Even here tho, I need about 1300 to get by each month – where nothing else happens like with the car etc etc. They dole just over 1500 a month. I simply couldn’t commit.

    Another course was 10k. Some were just under 4k but again, they let me on to this After I had already shot my bolt attempting to hook up with three consecutive schools. In any case, I’m not even prepared to take on a 3k debt in this economic climate. The 3k bundle was for pc tech training for the A+ (and Network +) btw, which I got back in the 90’s. No one hired me.

    I’d love to know how many completed their course, avoided serious debt and got hired. This is akin to “A Bridge Too Far” me thinks. But I’m sure some got through and maybe the VA will spread their stories around for all to hear.

    Don’t know how the other poster was allotted over 5k in grants as I was only eligible for 2k.

    Although unrelated to vrap directly, due to one of these school’s politically correct witch hunt on all things well, politically incorrect, I wound up in jail for 50 days. While matriculating I told an offhand joke which they thought otherwise. So I’ve endured some stressful times due to this vrap illusion.

  5. I was a recipient of vrap, I’m in school but, I may not be able to continue due financial difficulty. The V.A should allow current students to continue funding successful students. through vrap or other means. If there’s any program that I can take advantage of please let me know? I would make a big difference in my life. Please contact me [email protected] or 810-610-4869.

  6. Well, considering I have had studied much but gee I think that guy from Texas bankrupted Texas? HOMEWORK?
    I have which could be a bachelors degree. Yet no jobs in my field. Terrible counselor for us who are like disabled and gee five notes? WTH? Did the doctor need to teach a disability counselor? He wrote simple language? Yet I had tons of credits, but life sucks when MY BACK INJURED IN THE DAMN NAVY AND IF YOU HAVE A SLOW HAMSTER WHO TAKES FREQUENT BREAKS? ( FORGET ABOUT CORRECT UNDERSTANDING AND UNDERSTAND MONEY IS “PRORATED.” SO TO START SCHOOL CASH UP FRONT PLEASE?” ALSO MEANT ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL ONE WEEK OF A CHECK. AS MUCH AS I DENY MY DAMN BODY TAKING ME DOWN? SO NOT WORRY, I OWE THEM? YES AND NOW “THEY OWE ME BIG.” YES OZ SHE HAS A DAMN BRAIN AND IF IT KNOWS REALITIES IT IS ONE STORY THAT THAT NATURAL TAKE THE FOCUS OF ME AND MAKE A FRIEND BECAUSE I DETEST SLOPPY MEDICINE! QUESTIONS? ASK BEN!

  7. Bad experience with vrap while studying under the program i became total and Permanently Disabled (TPD). And after filing TPD for my past college loans 149,000$ yes thats right 149K were forgiven by the U.S. Dept of education (i have a masters as well as two 4 year undrgrad degrees)

    Yes all those loans were forgiven except one… can you guess which one?

    Yep, the Vrap loan… and they are very mean spirited when it comes to collections they even went so far as to try and garnish my 100 percent disabled vet service connected pay benefit.

    stay very clear of this program

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