By American Forces Press ServiceSeptember 29, 2009
WASHINGTON (Sept. 28, 2009) -- Checks for up to $3,000 soon will be available to students who have applied for Veterans Affairs educational benefits and who have not yet received their government payment.
The checks will be distributed to eligible students at VA regional benefits offices across the country starting Oct. 2, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced Sept. 25.
"Students should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial difficulties," Shinseki said. "Education creates life-expanding opportunities for our veterans."
Starting Oct. 2, students can go to one of VA's 57 regional benefit offices with photo identification, a course schedule and an eligibility certificate to request advance payment of their housing and book allowance. Because some students don't live near one of those offices, officials said, VA expects to send representatives to schools with large veteran-student bodies to work with veteran service groups in helping students with transportation needs.
A list of VA regional offices is available at http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/offices.asp.
"I'm asking our people to get out their road maps and determine how we can reach the largest number of college students who can't reach us," said Patrick Dunne, VA's undersecretary for benefits. "Not everyone has a car. Not everyone can walk to a VA benefits office."
Although VA officials said they don't know how many students will request emergency funds, about 25,000 claims are pending that may result in payments to students.
The funds VA will give to students now are advance payments of the earned benefits for housing and books, and will be deducted from future education payments. VA officials said students should know that after this special payment, they can expect to receive education payments on the normal schedule: the beginning of the month following the period for which they are reimbursed.
"This is an extraordinary action we're taking," Shinseki said. "But it's necessary, because we recognize the hardships some of our veterans face."
More than 27,500 students already have received benefits for housing or books under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, or their schools have received their tuition payments, officials said.
(From a Department of Veterans Affairs news release)