Some KU students affected by delayed GI Bill payments, but university is working to minimize impact

photo by: Associated Press

In this Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012, file photo, soldiers salute the U.S. flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at a welcome home ceremony for soldiers returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, at Fort. Carson, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Some University of Kansas students are still waiting for the check in the mail from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to pay tuition and living expenses for the semester which is days away from ending.

April Blackmon Strange, director of KU’s Military-Affiliated Student Center, noted that the delay was frustrating for students and said, “We won’t kick a student out; we are doing our best to work with them.”

The GI Bill is designed to help eligible veterans cover the cost of an education. Several different kinds of GI Bills exist, and out of the 600 students enrolled at KU under the Post/9-11 GI Bill, Blackmon Strange said, about 20 have reported problems.

Blackmon Strange’s office became aware of the situation in early October when national news outlets reported that the Veterans Affairs office was experiencing delays in sending benefits for hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country.

Troubles began with “information technology problems,” as the VA changed the way monthly housing allowance payments were calculated, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported on its webpage.

“We have reached out to GI Bill users,” Blackmon Strange said. Student problems have ranged from not receiving any payments to receiving one payment and not another the next month, while others are being underpaid.

Staff at KU’s Military-Affiliated Student Center went through all applicants’ paperwork to make certain the files were complete and in good order.

Meanwhile, the university is confident that at some point the money will arrive, Blackmon Strange said.

“We will make sure students are not negatively impacted,” she said.

Any hold on a student’s account was lifted so he or she could enroll for spring semester. Plus, KU Endowment has agreed to offer zero percent interest loans for 90 days to cover the housing allowance students should have received.

“I’m glad we could put things in place to alleviate some of the stress,” Blackmon Strange said.

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