Local School Hard Hit by Delay in Checks for Veterans

Keke Collins bio | email

Charleston, SC (WCSC) - Friday the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs started issuing emergency payments to vets going to college.

According to VA spokesperson Laurie Tranter 24,000 veterans throughout the United States have received money for tuition and expenses for this school year.

However, Tranter said the government is still processing checks for 25,000 veterans nationwide.

This has been a problem for hundreds of veterans enrolled at Trident Technical College.

The school boasts the highest number of enrolled veterans in the Southeast.

Trident Tech has stepped in for the government, paying over a million dollars this year in tuition fees for its veterans.

"The school has basically fronted the tuition for all those students, and that's something we told the VA that we were going to do...and that we were willing to do because we want to ensure that they can go to school, and not miss out on anything," said Trident Tech Financial Aid Director Ellen Green.

Disbursement of the government money was delayed because not enough people were hired to help process the checks.

Tranter said the VA recently hired an additional 760 workers to expedite the distribution of checks to veterans.

"I'm not going out as much or I don't really need cable...I'm just being a penny pincher now.  I actually went and got a roommate just to split the rent," said Steven Johnson, a Trident Tech student and veteran.

Johnson, who served eight months in Afghanistan, said he has been waiting on the government to send his money since August.

"I know some people didn't save up before they got out and so they're struggling...their credit cards are getting maxed out and they're clearing out their bank account," added Johnson.

As of Friday, veterans can pick up their emergency payments for tuition and housing at the VA's regional office in Columbia.

The agency will also provide transportation for veterans to collect their checks.

The VA is urging veterans to check their bank accounts and the mail before making the trip.

For veterans who would rather not travel, applications are being accepted on-line at www.va.gov.

Tranter said veterans applying via the web should receive their checks in the mail within about a week.

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