Veteran Survey Results
I'm urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to review the manner in which education benefits are delivered to veterans to ensure that they are received in a timely manner. As a growing number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are taking advantage of federal education benefits, some are reporting delays in receiving them as well as additional hardships.
Recently, our statewide Veterans Work Group along with my office have noticed an increase in the number of student veterans around Colorado reporting difficulties associated with GI Bill payment delays. In an effort to take a more comprehensive look at the issue, we conducted a survey of student veterans at Colorado universities. The survey found that two out of three respondents have reported an issue with education benefit payments – 84 percent of which have experienced payment delays. Our survey provides insightful quantitative data that supports the reports we've heard as well as a recent query by two Colorado veterans of VA work-study students in several states. Their query found that 48 percent of student vets said it usually takes two to four weeks to get their checks. Nearly 13 percent said it took more than a month.
Many student veterans are rightfully counting on the benefits they earned to support their living and education expenses. We have a responsibility to make sure they get their benefits on time and I look forward to working with the VA to ensure we get this right.
- Generally, people rate their overall experience with VA education benefits as positive, with an average response of 4.49 (out of 1-7 scale)
- Of all respondents, 68% reported having a problem with VA education benefit payments
- Of those who had had a problem, 84% reported experiencing payment delays
- 83% of those experiencing payment delays had delays of more than 30 days(30% experienced delays of more than 60 days)
- Of those who had had a problem, 72% reported experiencing emotional distress because of the delay
Of those who responded yes...
Of those who indicated experiencing a "Payment Delay"...
Of those who indicated experiencing a problem with VA education benefits...
Sign my letter to Secretary Shinseki to address this issue:
Dear Secretary Shinseki,
I write to share recent concerns I have heard from student veterans in Colorado regarding delays in GI Bill benefits.
Most recently, my office has seen an increase in the number of student veterans in Colorado reporting delays in GI Bill benefits. In response, my office sent out a survey to Colorado universities asking student veterans whether they encountered any difficulties with their GI Bill benefits. We heard from over 260 student veterans across the state. Although this sample is small relative to the significant size of the student veteran population of Colorado, it illustrates the common challenges that many student veterans face. For instance, more than 2 out of 3 respondents experienced issues with education benefit payments, and of those, 84 percent specifically reported experiencing payment delays. The majority of the student veterans from whom I have heard rely on the Post 9/11 GI Bill to cover much, if not all, of the costs of attending college such as tuition, housing, books. Delays in the receipt of GI Bill benefits hurt their ability to pay their bills and stay in school.
With over 24,000 student veterans across the state, Colorado has one of the highest concentrations of student veterans in the nation, and this number is expected to triple in the next five years. It is my hope that we can work together so that student veterans in Colorado and throughout the nation receive the benefits to which they are entitled in a timely manner.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to working you.
Senator Michael Bennet