With the advent of the New GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and other expanded educational support for the military, 2009 saw an unprecedented backlog of requests at the Veteran Affairs education services.
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Is the New GI Bill Overextended?

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In the fall of 2009, 82,000 military students were enrolled to receive benefits under the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, over 30,000 had not yet received their first payment by late 2009, and many military students were left worrying about making their tuition and housing payments on time.

NEW GI BILL HAS OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

With the advent of the New GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program and other expanded educational support for the military, 2009 saw an unprecedented backlog of requests at the Veteran Affairs education services, resulting in a backlog of 70,000 claims as of August 1, 2009, when the new GI Bill went into effect. Over 277,000 additional claims for GI Bill benefits were received after August.

With the backlog for receiving the GI Bill support they were counting on, many military servicemembers and veterans were worried about being able to make their tuition and housing payments on time.

To simplify application processing, the VA instituted an automated computer system, but this system is not scheduled to be fully functioning until December 2010.

However, Keith Wilson, director of education services at the VA, assured military servicemembers that the VA was doing all it could to help, including directly contacting colleges and universities to gain their agreement to wait for pending GI Bill tuition payments from the VA offices.

ARE YOUR GI BILL ALLOWANCES DELAYED?

By August 2009, about 52,000 military students and qualified family members received GI Bill allowances for books, housing, and tuition. But thousands of enrolled military and veteran students were still waiting to receive their payments for books and housing.

According to Wilson, living expenses were sent to military students in batches every few days starting October 1, expediting the payment for living expenses even while students waited for other claims such as tuition to be processed.

WHAT TO DO WHILE AWAITING YOUR GI BILL BENEFITS

If you are a military servicemember still waiting for your GI Bill stipends, there is positive action you can take to hold you over financially.

Many colleges and universities offer interest-free loans or special grants for veterans in need, such as the Pell Grant. Colleges may even be willing to create a grant to support your needs.

The important thing is not to stay silent; talk to your financial aid advisor about supporting your military needs through any delay in receiving your GI Bill funds. Your college or educational institution, like the VA itself, wants to support your education.



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