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Data transfer hinders 165 Ohio State student veterans

They served their country. They enlisted in the military, and after at least 90 days of service, they earned the right to have their college tuition paid for. The government has promised them this in the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
But the money doesn’t come until after they’ve had to worry about how they’re going to pay for housing and books.
For hundreds of thousands of student veterans across the United States, this is the reality of dealing with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And this year, there have been even greater delays than usual because of a switch to move the records of student veterans attending college in Ohio and West Virginia from the Buffalo, N.Y., regional office, to the St. Louis, Mo., office.
The records were moved in an attempt to lessen the load of the Buffalo office, and in turn, speed up tuition payments and eliminate most delays, said Mike Carrell, assistant provost and director of the office of military and veteran services at Ohio State.
“In general and in the long run, (the move is) a wonderful thing, (because the office will be less busy),” Carrell said. “But they had to transfer both physical and electronic files, some of which didn’t get to St. Louis.”
According to a university release, records of some students’ eligibility suffered a “temporary loss” during the transfer. Those students were offered emergency no-interest loans to cover their expenses and to prevent them from needing to drop classes or pay late fees.
The transfer affected records belonging to Ohio and West Virginia veterans with pending enrollments, received between July 24 and August 9.
According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, the VA issued a statement saying only 300 students from the two states might have been affected.
There are about 2,000 students at OSU who are either veterans or are using the benefits of a spouse or guardian. Of these, 165 students were confirmed to have been affected by the transition issues, Carrell said.
“Fortunately, because of my student veteran full-time status, I am allowed unemployment until my benefits run out,” said Allison Whitaker, a first-year in agricultural communication, in an email. “It helps, but not enough to pay my rent and other expenses.”
For many students, this delay is just another in a series of problems they’ve had with the VA.
“Even before this switch … I’d have to tell all of my professors, ‘Don’t kick me out of the class, it’s coming,'” said Josh Haller, a second-year in exploration. “It kind of sucks but I just suck it up and deal with it.”
According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, a letter from Thomas Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, and Jim Petro, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, expressed fear that students would be forced out of classes due to the records delay.
Tyler Tomlin, a third-year in history, said in an email that his GI Bill benefits have consistently been processed late each year.
“It’s frustrating, because I never know for sure if I’m going to get any of the money I need to supplement the income from my part-time job,” he said.
OSU implemented a policy about six months ago saying that OSU would not hold students accountable for delays on the part of Veterans Affairs, Carrell said. This means that the students will not be dropped from classes if they have late payments.
However, considering the VA also pays for books and housing, the delay this fall left some students scrambling to get the money. To help, OSU has offered them “zero interest short-term loans to cover those stipends,” Carrell said
Each student affected has the option to take out a loan of about $2,000, which provides for books, a partial housing allowance for August (because OSU was not in classes all month), and a full allowance for September. Carrell said this money is coming from the university treasury fund.
“The VA told us within 10 days to 2 weeks (it would be fixed), but students are covered through September,” Carrell said.
Not every student is taking advantage of the university’s offer, though.
“I try my hardest not to take any loans out,” Haller said.
Erin Monaco, a second-year in microbiology using her husband, Michael Monaco’s, GI Bill benefits, is also not taking out one of the short-term loans.
“We had to take out student loans (last year) which I really didn’t want to do because now I’ll be left with this huge chunk before I graduate,” Erin Monaco said.
For officials at OSU, one of the biggest problems was figuring out that there would be a delay in students receiving funding, since the VA didn’t tell anyone there were transition delays until after the payments were already late.
“We may have been a little slow, but that’s because the VA didn’t tell us they had a problem,” said Michael Forrest, director of veterans transition services at OSU. “We could’ve been more (up front) if the VA, if we would’ve had more notice on what was going on.”

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