Students See Delay in GI Bill College Benefits

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

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By Jill Kasparie

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Some Iowa college students are seeing a hold-up in their GI benefits after serving overseas.

Members of the military members choose to serve for a number of reasons. Some are motivated by the benefits that come with it, such as getting a free college education.

Iowa Watch, an independent, non-profit news organization with the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, published a new report, digging into delays behind GI Bill Benefits. It shows some veterans who served after 9/11 are struggling to get money for college expenses. The expected wait can be up to 60 days at some places.

Daniel Merwin, 29, and Ariela Myers, 26, have only been married for few months. The Army duo met while in Iraq.

"I served active duty from 2007 to 2011. And I am -- that's where I met my wife too,” Merwin said.

They're enjoying their classes, but say it's proving to be a little more difficult than expected to pay the bills. The promise of getting their college education paid in full with their GI Bill benefits isn't running as smoothly as planned.

"It's really frustrating that, you know, you feel like you've done what you should do, and you've been told that you would be able to have it taken care of and then you realize you can't do that,” Myers said.

The post 9/11 GI bill provides veterans with financial support for education, housing and books. Merwin and Myers said from month to month the money comes on time, but at the beginning of each semester they struggle to get the funds. Both remember waiting about two months for that first payment when they started school in the fall of 2011.

"My wife and I have had instances where we've been cutting it close, and we've thought you know what, we need to sell the car,” Merwin said.

"I have a work study job, which really is not enough, so I'm looking of other jobs outside in the community,” Myers said.

This army couple says it's not the end of the world to see delays once in a while, but these veterans simply wish they could get what was promised to them for their service.

"This full-time student thing that we're doing right now might not work out as conveniently as we thought it might and such as life goes,” Merwin said.

The Department of Veterans said the current national average to process benefits is six days for students and 24 days for new students. VA representatives added that the department is under-going a change from a paper to an electronic process to cut down on time.

http://iowawatch.org/2013/04/06/getting-g-i-benefits-is-a-challenge-for-iowas-veterans-in-college/

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