Student veterans in Middle Tennessee have been hit by a nationwide delay with their GI Bill payments.
And, although state universities are helping students, they worry some veterans might end up dropping out. Middle Tennessee State University is one of them.
At MTSU, hundreds of student veterans were expecting their housing and book allowances in October.
But a new version of the GI Bill — signed last year to expand education benefits to veterans and family members — has forced software changes at the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. As a result, many have seen their payments delayed for weeks.
Hillary Miller is the director of MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. She worries the lack of money will make older student veterans quit school.
“They have a little bit more responsibility than the average college student that’s living in the dorm and that can keep tightening their belts if they have to," Miller said. "They have other things they need to pay for and so this is a really tough situation.”
There are 1,092 military connected families at MTSU, and Miller said most of them use the GI Bill.
Her team has been able to waive tuition fees and lift account holds so students can register while waiting for the money. Her team even prepared letters for landlords asking for a grace period.
Miller said she anticipated that the payments were going to be delayed even before the semester started — when folks at the VA were telling her about issues with the system
Terrence Hayes, a spokesman with the VA, said the department hired more people to help process the payments.
As of November 19th, more than 56,000 students across the country have yet to be paid.