Funds normally guaranteed for some military personnel may be postponed due to the federal government shutdown.
In an email sent this week, President Tony Frank confirmed there may be delays in payment resulting from the shutdown, including student veterans and active-duty military personnel.
“Processing and certification still works at this moment and we should not expect a delay on military benefits,” said Marc Barker, manager of veteran and tuition assistance benefits, who works out of the Office of Veterans Benefits, which has been working overtime for the past couple of days to figure out how students will be impacted by the shutdown.
While the shutdown is only temporary and payouts are still occurring, some of the effects have yet to take place or be seen.
“The ‘Right Now Web’ where students can log in and ask a question about their benefits, and the national call centers including the hot line for school certifying officials, will be shut down as of close of business Thursday,” Barker said.
As of today, Oct. 3, when veterans have a problem, there will be no one on the other end of the communication lines to help them at the national level, according to Barker.
The select few people that happen to have problems, such as CSU student and veteran Katrina Bishop, should contact the Office of Veterans Benefits at CSU (970-491-6340; GI_Bill@colostate.edu) for assistance. Bishop works as a staff member at the Adult Learner and Veteran Student center.
“I really hope it doesn’t last that long,” Bishop said. “They haven’t been able to come to an agreement yet so who’s to say they’re going to figure it out in the next couple of weeks.”
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs distributes a monthly stipend, Bachelor Assisted Housing (BAH), to veteran and military assistance students on top of paying for their tuition each semester.
“I have received my BAH but they have not paid for my tuition yet,” said Bishop, who registered for benefits in May. “It’s really bad because a lot of people are counting on this money to go to school — I know if I don’t get the money then I can’t go. I don’t have that kind of cash.”
Education benefits are promised to veterans throughout their career. With the shutdown, those benefits may not come through.
“It’s one of the reasons why people signed up for the military in the first place — they guaranteed us the GI Bill,” Bishop said.
It’s one thing to say that benefits haven’t been paid out, but it’s a complete other thing when lack of benefits are causing financial hardship and problems, according to Barker. And that’s what the Office of Veterans Benefits is there for and can help with.
Sources said this may be the start of a slippery slope for many receiving benefits at CSU, depending on how long it takes for Congress to pass a federal budget measure. For the moment, they said, everything is still working with payouts.
CSU veteran staffers are working directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“There is a bit of angst on our end,” Barker said.
Collegian Reporter Scott Fromberg can be reached at email@example.com.