Change in procedure leaves some student vets waiting for funds

Though student veteran financial aid will be done being processed by early next week, some student veterans at the University are still in a state of financial limbo caused by a procedure change suggested by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Elizabeth Ambros, junior in AHS, entered college in her mid-twenties due to her six years of service in the U.S. Navy. Ambros has a “house full of furniture” and “legitimate car payments” due every month, but because her usual stipend did not come through in January, she had to dip into savings to pay some bills.

“I’m probably going to have to take out a student loan, but why?” Ambros said.

Patricia Starks, junior in LAS, said loans were not a part of her financial aid plan.

“The word loan itself is something I don’t want to get involved in,” she said. “That’s one of the big things about joining the military is you know your education benefits, so you can avoid certain things like loans.”

Through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, or Chapter 33, Ambros and other student veterans who served at least 90 days after Sept. 10, 2001, have their tuition and fees paid for by the VA. The bill also covers textbook expenses and housing costs when classes are in session.

Last semester, when many student veterans covered by the bill dropped classes without notifying the Office of Student Financial Aid, the office was audited and it was found to have owed the VA the extra money from dropped classes. Financial Aid decided to heed the VA’s advice and not process student veteran financial aid until the end of the 10-day drop period, according to Dan Mann, director of student financial aid.

This caused a delay in the usual payments to student veterans, especially to those who receive other grants and aid and receive a surplus in addition to stipends.

Many veterans rely on these funds to pay bills for things such as cars, groceries, credit cards or housing.

Though Financial Aid had known about the change, Mann said he was unaware of the full effect it would have on this small part of the student population. The office did not notify student veterans about the processing change.

“We didn’t know that there was going to be negative side effects,” Mann said. “If we could have understood that a little bit better, then we would have definitely tried to inform students more upfront.”