Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secretary Shinseki Orders Emergency Checks to Students Awaiting Education Benefits

Secretary Shinseki Orders Thousands of Checks to Alleviate Student
Financial Burden


WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has authorized checks for up
to $3,000 to be given to students who have applied for 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, 2009. "Students
should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial
difficulties,"

Secretary Shinseki said. "Education creates life-expanding
opportunities for our Veterans." Starting Friday, Oct. 2, 2009,
students can go to one of VA's 57 regional benefit offices with a
photo ID, a course schedule and an eligibility certificate to request
advance payment of their housing and book allowance. Because not all
these offices are located near students, VA expects to send
representatives to schools with large Veteran-student bodies and work
with Veteran Service Organizations to help students with
transportation needs.

A list of those VA regional offices is available at
www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefit..s/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," VA's Under Secretary
for Benefits Patrick Dunne said. "Not everyone has a car. Not everyone
can walk to a VA benefits office." Although VA does not know how many
students will request emergency funds, it has approximately 25,000
claims 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. This money 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,"
said Shinseki. "But it's necessary because we recognize the hardships
some of our Veterans face." More than 27,500 students have already
received benefits for housing or books under the new Post-9/11 GI
Bill, or their schools received their tuition payments.

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