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IBNN NEWS will be contacting Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN) office (who is veteran friendly) to see if they can get an answer on how to fix the VA Work Study Program for veterans, which has become more trouble then it’s work for local colleges to administer especially with most colleges not being veteran friendly – but quick to take VA benefits to pay for veterans going to college. Read the VA Work Study Guide 2009 (PDF)
Fast Tube by Casper
By Donald W.R. Allen, II (Veteran), Editor in Chief/The Independent Business News Network
Minneapolis, MN (IBNN NEWS/VA Work Study Program/June 18, 2012)..Ask any veteran who has participated in the VA Work-Study program and they’ll tell you it’s more trouble then it’s worth. IBNN NEWS spoke with several veterans in Minnesota and other states who went to either 2 or 4-year colleges and took part in what should have been a great opportunity to work and study on campus for a paycheck outside of benefits.
Editors note: Veterans interviewed in this story asked IBNN not to be identified by name due to the fear of retaliation that might affect their service-connected benefits, Vocational Re-Rehabilitation and Post 9/11 educational opportunities.
Colleges across the United States have various forms of Work Study programs for college students who attend college that are set up to assist the individual student “make ends meet” during the college semester. Most regular college Work Study participants are paid an hourly wage that ranges between $7.25 to $15.00 per hour.
The VA Work Study program has been stuck at $7.25 for more than 5-years.
In an interview with “John Doe #1” he states, “Local college VA Work Study supervisors have a hard time getting in touch with the St. Louis Regional Office to obtain VA Work Study Contracts and time sheets for program participants. They tell you to email them if you have questions and concerns and they send back harsh messages telling you to not to email them and ask your supervisor to contact them.”
This creates a challenge because as of June 18, 2012, many VA Work Study participants have not been paid for their last time sheet turned submitted in May 2012. Supervisors and participants have been put on hold for over 45-minutes only to be disconnected without talking to anyone. The system does not work for Veterans who in most cases can’t get regular Work Study jobs at colleges due to discriminative practices of colleges who overlook veteran benefits and require that students have financial aid to become a Work Study participant. In most cases, veterans don’t qualify because of the benefits they receive that bypass the federal financial aid program and are paid directly to the college.
“John Doe #2” told IBNN, “After you submit your time card, it takes over a month to get paid. That sucks!”
Regular college Work Study program participants are paid like clockwork every two weeks.
IBNN NEWS called the VA Work Study Program in St. Louis to gather more information for this story. We were on hold for 50-minutes for the first call; one-hour and 10 minutes on the second call and 30-minutes of the third call. Each phone call resulted in a disconnection with nobody answering the call. Needless to say, the VA Work Study customer service line is a dysfunctional way to get answers. If veterans are having the same challenges, this needs to be fixed right away.
The issue of veteran college Work Study programs becomes even more difficult when veterans end up on a campus that is less then friendly to veterans regardless if the VA is paying 100% of cost for the veteran. Some local colleges in Minnesota take VA payments for granted and don’t have anyone in financial aid to assist the veteran in obtaining success in college or understanding VA benefits in general.
Research shows that peer learning is at the top of the list in college settings across the United States. Veterans in most cases, do better than regular college students as it pertains to retention, grades and outcome. Most VA Work Study participants are student leaders who assist other veterans navigate the big business called college. Its more than an insult to pay VA Work Study participants $7.25 per hour – and even more of an insult to make a veteran wait over a month – after his/her timecard is turned in to be paid.
Remember, “If you can read this and like your freedom to attend college, thank a veteran.”