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VA reminds vets about spring school payments

By Ed O'Keefe

The Department of Veterans Affairs has paid more than $1.3 billion in education benefits to more than 170,000 students eligible for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, the department said Wednesday.

Officials released the figures as they issued an early call asking eligible service members veterans, spouses and children to submit spring semester information before Feb. 10. VA already has processed more than 72,000 of the approximately 103,000 spring enrollments received, the department said.

That's a good start, but officials said universities and students need to start thinking earlier about submitting enrollment information to the department in order to avoid the embarrassing backlogs that occurred last fall as the program began.

“We are making a concerted effort to reach out to everyone to provide the timely benefits that those who served our nation deserve," said VA Acting Undersecretary for Benefits Mike Walcoff. He said VA, universities and the students have "shared responsibilities" to ensure the timely processing of educational benefits.

Veterans, servicemembers, reservists, and National Guard members who have served on active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are eligible for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The program provides payments for tuition and fees, housing allowances and book and supplies money to eligible service members and some spouses or children.

The department has hired 530 employees -- both contractors and federal workers -- since the program launched last summer. More than 1,200 VA staffers have been working to process claims with mandatory overtime since last August, VA said.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 21, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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