Uncertainty about G.I. Bill compensation leaves paying for living expenses, tuition in the air for student veterans

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Many veteran students have reasons to worry about paying for school this semester as thousands of G.I. Bill recipients have been waiting for the Veterans Affairs Office to process and pay for both their tuition and housing allowances.

For many veterans these payments are how they pay for their living expenses while in school full time. The payments for many students have either been delayed or not received at all during the semester.

“Usually in the fall semester it comes a little bit late, which is expected, so you have to have a month’s worth of money saved up for rent, bills, etc.,” Justin Colby, junior in finance, said. “I was not paid until late October this year [when] I was supposed to be paid in August, and that was just for housing allowance.”

The problems originated in the VA office when they began to implement the Forever G.I. Bill that was signed into law in 2017. The office had planned to have everything migrated over to this new system by August, but technology problems have pushed the implementations further and further back, currently set back to December 2019.

Kansas State has a number of veteran students and other dependent recipients that utilize these benefits.

About 1,700 students are using or have used G.I. Bill benefits. About 900 are actively using their benefits, David Brooks, financial aid specialist, said.

“It’s hard to give an exact number of students that were affected,” Brooks said. “The reason why is because students turn in their forms at different timelines, they have different benefits, there were different conditions they could have affected the process.”

The Veterans Affairs office on campus, located in Anderson Hall, handles the school’s side of processing the applications for G.I. Bill benefits.

Some students have turned to other means to help pay for their living expenses and tuition, taking these setbacks in stride as they continue their college careers. Options for covering tuition costs are available at the Office of Financial Aid.

“I’ll figure it out, life on hard-mode,” Colby said.

While the VA has had their issues implementing the Forever G.I. Bill this year, it has reported that the issues are being corrected retroactively.

“I want to make clear that each and every post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiary will be made 100 percent whole, retroactively if need be, for their housing benefits for this academic year based on Forever GI Bill rates,” Robert Wilkie, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, said in a news release posted on Nov. 29.

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