Streamline college aid for vets
Although delayed claims to veterans have appeared to become a thing of the past, there are still a substantial amount of veterans who are continuing to wait for their educational benefits as they face eviction and become deeper in debt. There have been countless individuals who have stood up to this, but not much has changed.
There still seems to be a miscommunication between some universities and the Department of Veterans Affairs that can delay payments, and the VA is still too understaffed to handle the influx of claims. It is understandable that an organization may have difficulty managing claims; however, with budget cuts looming, millions of veterans are left wondering if they are at risk for being left in the dark.
On many occasions the miscommunication between universities and the VA has created unnecessary delays. This will typically occur when an individual is not entirely clear on what his position entails, and then becomes incapable of providing the best service to the veteran. This can be rectified by training those who will be handling veterans’ paperwork at colleges and universities. This ensures that all processors are well-versed in their roles.
Although finances appear to be the major concern for the government, it would behoove the colleges and universities to ensure that their employees are capable of performing their job to the best of their ability. Many veteran certifiers are given their position as an addition to their normal role within the school, which is not conducive to that individual having the ability to manage all the student veterans’ needs. A well-trained veteran certifier can substantially increase a school’s military friendliness rating, which in return can increase veteran enrollment, and guaranteed funding.
Many governmental entities are attempting to survive budget cuts and attempting to do more with less. However, it appears the administration that processes claims has always had less. The creation of an online system where a student can track the status of his claim would allow for the veteran to have a clear understanding without having to call and attempt to connect with the consistently busy hot line. Most of the frustration is the unknown, due to the fact that one problem can receive multiple answers.
Along with a need to track a claim, it would be beneficial to all involved if the process was simplified. Applying for financial aid can be fairly simple for many, because financial aid departments at colleges and universities work cohesively with the federal student aid department. By creating a system where the VA has the ability to work within the same capacity — for example, submitting eligibility letters electronically, and directly to the college or university — could eliminate much of the delay many student veterans are seeing.
There needs to be more done to ensure that we do not continue on the path we are on. In order to create solutions those with the power to do so need to communicate with the individuals who will have to deal with their decisions. Financial stress can be one of the most difficult stressors to endure, and having to choose between dropping out of school and finding a job appears to go against the original mission of the GI Bill. As time progresses the number of individuals needing benefits will increase and, unless the VA can streamline its process, this will become an even greater headache.
Marlene J. Julye