Student Veterans Can Apply for Aid Online

By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thousands of student veterans who have not yet received tuition, housing and book payments under the Post-9/11 GI Bill may apply online for emergency aid beginning Friday, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday.

The agency announced last week that students struggling to pay their bills could receive a maximum $3,000 advance on earned educational benefits, but said that veterans could claim the aid only by going in person to one of 57 regional offices. Officials decided to offer the online option because many veterans would have had to travel a considerable distance to get to an office -- including one student at Northern Michigan University whose round trip to the nearest office in Ann Arbor would have taken 15 hours, said Student Veterans of America Executive Director Derek Blumke.

Students may apply online by going to Applicants would receive their checks in the mail.

Veterans without their own transportation who wish to visit a regional office may request free van service by calling their nearest VA medical center.

As of last week, less than 10 percent of the 251,000 veterans who had applied for the benefit had actually received checks, forcing thousands to live off of savings, take out personal loans or run up credit card bills, according to veterans and groups that advocate on their behalf.

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