The Oct. 1 shutdown of the federal government has left veterans across the U.S. without access to the services that would normally be provided to them through the GI Bill, including costs of education and living expenses for college students.
Veterans Coordinator for the SDSU Veterans Center Todd Kennedy said the Veterans Center on campus has been communicating with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship about possible alternate aid options, but no final plans have emerged.
“Unfortunately it’s not as easy to just waive housing or tuition for all veteran students,” Kennedy said. “Everyone’s situation is too different.”
Though the majority of services have been cut for veterans, some backup funds are in place to keep some essential programs open, Kennedy said. These funds are set to run out in late October, at which point all veteran services through the government will be completely defunded, he added.
“They have not even given us an exact date for when we run out of money,” Kennedy said.
Until more detailed plan emerges, Kennedy strongly urges veterans to not jump the gun on taking out loans.
International security and conflict resolution senior Paul Tomcavage relies on the GI Bill to pay for his monthly rent. He said he has no idea what he is going to do if he doesn’t get a check by the end of the month.
“I have tried not to even think about it getting to this point,” Tomcavage said.
Nonprofits have begun to step in to help disabled and disadvantaged veterans, but they are not a solution to the greater problem, veteran and recent SDSU graduate Angela Kozak said. Kozak works as an in-home counselor for veterans while attending the University of Southern California.
Kozak said the most upsetting part about the government shutdown’s effect on veteran services is seeing how it cuts off disabled and needy veterans.
“I have the ability to work my way through these things, but many of these wounded veterans don’t have any other options,” Kozak said.
Like many other veterans, Kozak relies on the GI Bill also to pay for her housing and school expenses. She has been talking to her parents about possible financial assistance if veteran benefits are not restored before her monthly rent is due.
“It doesn’t seem like the people in power really understand the gravity of this situation,” Kozak said.