When the new GI Bill for Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was passed by Congress last year, people had high hopes. However, the reality of the situation is benefits flowing from the bill have been late arriving resulting in frustration on campuses around the country.
The program rolled out August 1 and focused on giving superior benefits to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Benefits include:
- Full tuition at most public institutions;
- Many more expensive, private school promised to make up the balance of the difference between their school and what the tuition would cost at a public institution; and
- The ability to transfer unused benefits to their dependents.
Normally, fall semesters greet students with a sense of anticipation triggered by the excitement of working toward a college degree. This fall, however, thousands of veterans were met with feelings of aggravation and annoyance as their tuition and living expenses payments were delayed by the federal government. Approximately 20,000 veterans are still waiting for their claims to be processed and their payments to be disbursed. The US Department of VA attributes the issues to:
- Challenges in being a first year program;
- An outdated processing system; and
- Delays in actually receiving paperwork.
While it is bad enough deserving veterans are not getting the money and benefits they are entitled to, some schools are considering telling veterans they will not be able to register for their next semester until funds arrive. In October, the VA authorized advance payments up to $3,000 to allow veterans to at least cover their living expenses for the semester.