Veterans Must Wait for College Benefits Decision

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Early estimates suggest thousands of military veterans who are currently attending colleges in Ohio will not receive the benefits they need to pay tuition, housing and book fees on time due to an error caused when some of their records were temporarily lost by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans in colleges in Ohio and West Virginia, including private, public and for-profit institutions, are still working to identify how many of their students will see their Post 9/11 GI Educational Benefits delayed. Many schools are also making special no-interest loans available to those veterans to cover housing and book expenses until they are paid.

“We’re still getting numbers in,” said Kim Norris, spokeswoman for the Ohio Board of Regents. “Some of the numbers that we have would indicate it’s at least a couple thousand.”

No new information was available from the VA, which on Aug. 31 said the issue potentially affected 300 veterans in Ohio and West Virginia, and would be resolved within 10 days. Adding that no claims were permanently lost, the VA explained that a “system programming error” affected the eligibility certifications for veterans with pending enrollments received between July 24 and Aug. 9. The error occurred while the records were being electronically transferred to Missouri from New York as the VA realigned one of its four Education Regional Processing Offices. The VA did not respond to a request for additional information.

The Ohio Department of Veterans Services said as many as 22,000 veterans and their family members could be affected. The department had not received any updated from the VA as of Thursday, but spokesman Mike McKinney said he is confident the VA is working on the issue and will get it resolved.

Ohio Chancellor Jim Petro, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colonel Thomas Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, called on every Ohio college to hold veterans harmless as the VA addresses the lost records and backlog of claims.

Area public and private universities already have programs established to allow veterans to remain enrolled in classes even if their payments are delayed by the VA. Miami, Wright State and Ohio State universities made additional no-interest loans available.

Miami expects 75 to 100 student veterans on campus will be affected by the delay. Wright State and Clark State Community College both estimated 90. Norris said the University of Cincinnati reported to the regents that an estimated 293 veterans will be impacted, Cleveland State said 240 and Bowling Green reported 118.

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