Colorado

Feb 3, 2010 10:09 PM by Matt Stafford

New G.I. Bill program backed up, causing problems for some

A lot of soldiers are hitting the books, many taking advantage of the G.I. Bill and the government picking up the tab.

"I wouldn't have been able to go. I wouldn't have been able to afford college," says Larry Hathaway, a Vietnam veteran using the G.I. Bill.

The new Post-9/11 part of the bill, just beginning last year, is paying the way for many soldiers. However, payments from Veterans Affairs to the schools have not been quick.

"They've been in back log mode ever since it came into existence on August 1st of last year," explains Cheri Arfsten, director of military and veterans' programs at Pikes Peak Community College.

Some schools are asking the students to cover the costs in the mean time. Pikes Peak Community College isn't one of them. There, as soon as the soldier registers, they can enroll and start class.

The Post-9/11 part of the G.I. Bill landed Aaron Bensinger money for school and a work study job. Ten hours a day, and many times more than that, is full time for Bensinger.

"In the Army, you know, we do hours like that. But that's being a soldier and I'm not a soldier no more," Bensinger says.

He's grateful for the opportunity, but tuition isn't always paid on time because of the backed up program.

"There are some hurdles to jump as far as you can expect a six month delay for your money," explains Bensinger. "Those guys that have to pay for it out of their pocket, that would be really tough. I know I couldn't do it."

However, he is getting on with his life after the military.

"I don't know, maybe I would be unemployed right now. Maybe I would be right there working. I don't know what I would be doing, but I know the G.I. Bill gave me something to do."

Along with a little help from his school, waiving the late payments and fines, he keeps going.

If you want more information on education cost assistance for the military, check out www.gibill.va.gov.

 

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