Housing stipends for tens of thousands of student veterans and dependents will be delayed by several days after Veterans Affairs officials late Thursday announced a processing mistake had halted all of the payments.
The error means that millions of dollars expected to be paid out to beneficiaries on Friday will instead take several more days to transmit. Department leaders in a statement said they expect all electronic payments to be sent out by April 3 and paper checks to be mailed that same day.
While the department promised that the money will eventually be delivered, the delay could cause significant financial problems for individuals with rent payments due April 1. In a statement, VA leaders said that staff is “working to reconstruct the pay file to deliver to the Treasury” as soon as possible, but offered no other explanation for the mistake.
“We are mindful of the stress this may create for our student veterans and their families,” they said in a statement. “VA is preparing electronic communications to inform veterans and provide them with a letter, which they can share with their creditors in the event this delay impacts their ability to meet personal financial obligations.”
The issue affects all students receiving housing payments through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. More than 500,000 veterans and dependents are receiving some funding from the program this school year, although not all qualify for full housing benefits. VA officials did not say how many individuals will be impacted by the late payment.
More than $8 billion in education benefits will be paid out to veterans, qualified spouses and qualified dependents through the Post-9/11 GI Bill program this fiscal year.
Along with money for regular tuition costs, qualified recipients are also given monthly housing stipends to cover things like rent and utilities. Depending on where individuals live, those stipends can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $4,000.
Department officials are also contacting colleges and universities “to ensure they are aware of the situation and are prepared to provide any additional support that may be needed.”
VA leadership promised more updates on what caused the problem and what fixes are being made in coming days.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.