Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Helping Veterans Get Textbooks

After hearing that there is a long wait for our students who are veterans to get their educational benefits from the federal government, we decided to evaluate whether there was anything we coul do to help, at least in the short term for now. Our colleges and universities already allow veterans attending school to defer their tuition payments until after they receive their check for educational benefits. However, there is also a living allowance that is a part of those benefits as well, and we want to make sure that the long wait for a check is not keeping veterans from being able to attend school.

Obviously textbooks are an integral part of learning in the classroom, and they are expensive to buy, especially if you are still waiting for financial aid, or in the case of veterans, for educational benefits you've earned. There is a system guideline that instructs campuses to allow students who are awaiting federal aid to also have their textbook costs deferred. However, when we asked about whether the cost of textbooks was being deferred for veterans on campuses, it seemed that very few campuses were doing so. We contacted the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Office of the Chancellor about this issue, and pointed out our belief that veterans with tuition deferments should be covered under this policy, and they agreed.

Information should be going out to all campuses instructing them to defer textbook costs for veterans until they receive their educational benefits and are able to pay for their books. While this is certainly far from solving the larger issue, which is the length of time it takes for veterans to receive their educational benefits, we hope that it does help those attending school this fall and in the future by ensuring access to the textbooks they need.

MSUSA plans to continue to evaluate other steps that can be taken to assist veterans attending our colleges and universities. If you or someone you know is a veteran and can help us identify problems and barriers to your education, please contact us. You can call 651.224.1518 or email smoore@msusa.org.

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