Colleges asked to cover any VA holdup on payments
The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch/MCT
Ohio officials asked college and university presidents yesterday to keep their military-veteran students enrolled while the federal Department of Veterans Affairs resolves a possible delay with GI Bill benefit payments.
The fear is that the schools might drop the students for not paying tuition, according to a letter from Jim Petro, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, and Thomas N. Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
“The affected student veterans need to be held harmless in this situation,” the letter said.Gov. John Kasich also released a statement yesterday asking the schools to “show flexibility and patience so we can ensure the education of our student veterans isn’t disrupted.”
It wasn’t clear yesterday how many, if any, of those students in Ohio had lost their enrollment. Ohio State University, Franklin University and Ohio Dominican University said that their students either hadn’t been affected by the problem or hadn’t been dropped.
A version of the GI Bill was implemented in 2009 for veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001. It pays full college tuition in many cases, along with stipends for books and living expenses.
The Military Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that electronic records for some Ohio and West Virginia student veterans were temporarily lost during a transfer between Department of Veterans Affairs offices in Buffalo, N.Y., and St. Louis.
The department had backup records, but the problem could cause delays for students whose GI Bill eligibility forms were received between July 24 and Aug. 9.
The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement saying that only 300 Ohio and West Virginia students might have been affected.But Ohio State alone estimates that 250 of its 2,000 student veterans could have problems, and Bowling Green State University’s president wrote a letter to Kasich saying that the “vast majority” of the school’s 284?student veterans would experience delays.
Wayne Carlson, Ohio State’s vice president for undergraduate studies and director of undergraduate education, said that the university had recently noted an increase in delays.He said school officials didn’t know the cause until the VA disclosed the loss of records this week.
The university already had in place a mechanism so that student veterans aren’t penalized for federal problems, Carlson said.
Ohio State is going further with this most-recent delay and giving no-interest loans to veteran students whose stipends for living expenses and books are held up. When the money from the GI Bill finally comes through, the university will get reimbursed.
Bowling Green State University announced that it is offering similar financial help. Carlson said he expects other Ohio schools to do the same.
The VA estimates that the claims will be resolved within 10 days, but Carlson said that it could be October or November.
Distributed by MCT Information Services