VA Reaching Out to Students and Schools to Speed Benefit Payments

"Shared Responsibilities" Among Schools, Students and VA

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2010) - In a coordinated effort to speed up the
processing of Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits this spring, the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it has been
reaching out to student Veterans, servicemembers, university officials
and other partners to meet its commitment to an aggressive processing
goal by Feb. 1, 2010. Feb. 1 is the first date spring payments are due
and presently VA has processed over 72,000 of the approximately 103,000
spring enrollments received. Since inception of the historic new
program last year, VA has paid over $1.3 billion in benefits to more
than 170,000 students.

"Only by VA and all of our partners working together will students be
better served," said VA's Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Mike
Walcoff. "We are making a concerted effort to reach out to everyone to
provide the timely benefits that those who served our nation deserve."

Walcoff said there are "shared responsibilities" between VA,
universities and the students to ensure the success of processing the
education benefits on time."

VA has sent letters to university presidents and school certifying
officials, state Veterans affairs directors, and notified Veteran
service organizations, congressional members and other education
stakeholders highlighting VA's emphasis on the importance of timely
submission of school enrollment information.

VA also released a "Hip Pocket" guide and checklist, with helpful tips
to assist Veterans in the application process. The guide and checklist
can be found on college campuses and VA's GI Bill Web site, <> .

VA is working to provide timely payments to all eligible Veterans to
ensure that students are spared the financial hardships which some faced
during the fall 2009 term.

To help address the high volume of claims received for the new Post-9/11
GI Bill, VA hired 530 employees, bringing the total number of education
claims processors to 1,200. Employees have been working mandatory
overtime since August 2009. Additionally, the department awarded a
temporary contract to assist with education claims processing.

Veterans, servicemembers, reservists, and members of the National Guard
who served on active duty since September 11, 2001 are potentially
eligible for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. It provides payments for
tuition and fees, as well as a housing allowance and stipend for books
and supplies for many participants.

Under the new GI Bill, some members of the armed forces may transfer
benefits to a spouse or dependent children.

Information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as VA's other
educational benefit programs, is available at VA's Web site, <> , or by calling
1-888-GIBILL-1 (or 1-888-442-4551).