GW veterans’ tuition payments delayed

GW has yet to receive tuition payments for the approximately 300 veterans on campus that were promised to the University under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, said Linda Brown, GW’s manager of University Cashier Services.

Promised payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs for tuition and housing are currently missing and have left at least three student veterans scrambling to get emergency loans from GW’s Office of Student Financial Assistance or the federal government, said Andrew Sonn, director of the Student Academic and Student Services Customer Service Initiatives.

“At this point in time we haven’t received any checks,” Brown said.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the Department of Veterans Affairs has received more applications than expected, leaving more than 90 percent of veterans who submitted claims without checks to cover the cost of tuition or housing.

Brian Hawthorne, president and co-founder of the GW Veterans, said that he and his peers were made aware of the problems with tuition payouts and were told by University officials not to worry.

“We’re late on tuition, we all are,” Hawthorne said. “GW has already said, ‘don’t worry about it.’ “

The University also made exceptions for students’ tuition deadlines when a loan agency dropped nearly 200 students mid-year during last fall’s credit crisis. To cope with the delays, both GW and the VA have offered student service members emergency loans based on future benefits to cover the short-term costs of housing.

“We’re going to work with them,” Sonn said. “Emergency loans is certainly an option that some students have taken advantage of.”

According to The Washington Post, the VA will offer $3,000 emergency loans at its regional offices to cover housing and book allowances beginning Oct. 2.

In a message sent yesterday to all GW veterans from the coordinators of GW Veteran Services, students were given more information on how to apply for the VA’s loans and an assurance of the office’s support.

“Please contact GW’s Office of Veteran Services if you have a financial issue associated with your educational benefits and/or living expenses,” the letter said. “We can discuss your situation in person or by phone or email. We are here to support you.”

Hawthorne said the delays in national payouts have a direct impact on the community of veterans at GW. He added that since many of GW’s veterans live off campus, the issues plaguing the payout process can go beyond GW’s efforts to help students keep their housing.

“The real issue is that students who don’t live in GW Housing have to answer to landlords,” Hawthorne said.

Despite all of the administrative issues, Sonn is confident that the housing and tuition checks will be administered in the future.

“Although there are delays, the VA benefits will come – that’s for sure,” Sonn said. “The question is not if, but when. That’s something I wish I had more control over.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: (Oct. 1, 2009)

The Hatchet erroneously attributed that three student veterans received emergency loans to Linda Brown. Andrew Sonn provided the information.

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