Shutdown impact on G.I. Bill funding

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- As the budget standoff in Washington continues, military members who receive money to pay for college are wondering if they’ll continue to see their benefits.

The G.I. Bill provides funding to active service members and veterans to attend colleges and technical programs.

The Veteran’s Benefits Office at UW-Eau Claire says service members enrolled in classes this semester will not experience any changes in their benefits, but new applicants could be put into limbo until the shutdown ends.

“Across all boards in the military we're feeling the impact,” UW-Eau Claire education benefits coordinator Miranda Cross-Schindler said.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at the Veteran’s Benefits Office at UW-Eau Claire.

“I contact the Veteran’s Affairs hotline on a daily basis and right now that's unstaffed. So if a student comes to me with a question that I could normally get answered through them now I can’t do that,” Cross-Schindler said.

Cross-Schindler says she's been fielding questions from students wondering if they'll be getting benefits to pay for college.

“We're hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. We've put policies and practices into place for students to receive interest free short-term loans through our financial aid department,” she explained.

“I haven't been able to find out what is happening with that because nobody to answer the phone call to answer my questions,” student and Army National Guard member Shanyn Ambrozaitis said.

Ambrozaitis says she's still waiting for her benefits to get to her, but thankfully she has back-ups to pay for her tuition this semester.

“I've got money coming from scholarships and my family and other money that comes from the military,” she said.

Cross-Schindler says G.I. bill applications are still being processed but the staff has been downsized during the shutdown.

As the waiting game for applicants continues, there is one key thing they'll have to keep in mind.

“I’m trying to be as patient as possible it’s just going to take time and that's like a lot of things in the military. I'll wait and that’s all I can do I can’t do anything else,” Ambrozaitis said.

UW-Eau Claire says it doesn't expect G.I. Bill benefits to be impacted for the next semester. It says new applicants should expect to see delays in service for several weeks after the shutdown ends.

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