December 29, 2009 | Diane Johnson | Leave a comment Universities and colleges are still waiting for tuition payments for thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who attended school last fall. The new GI Bill is supposed to cover the costs if not most of them, but the government hasn't paid these schools yet and many veterans are worried they won't be able to return to school in January. The Veterans Affairs Department officials promised that they will get these vets back in the classroom. Apparently the VA has processed tens of thousands of requests but 5,000 remain unprocessed. Katie Roberts from the VA stated that "we continue to work on a daily basis with schools to make sure that no student is denied attending class as a result of delayed tuition payments." But apparently last semester the delays and financial hardship left many veterans struggling to make rent payments and pay for textbooks. One student at Loyola Marymount University in L.A. said that he and his wife had $4,000 in credit card debt because the university wouldn't release the student loans he needed for living expenses until tuition was fully paid. The problems with the new GI Bill apparently haven't been ironed out yet. One veteran graduated but hasn't been able to get his diploma because the tuition hasn't been paid. The GI Bill is intended to help veterans earn an education but the government isn't paying up, which is causing a lot of headaches for schools and especially veterans. In order to try and fix the situation the VA has issued $3,000 emergency checks to more than 68,000 veterans. But the VA is now reporting the money has run out. So the problem continues. Apparently the new GI Bill is supposed to cover tuition, and provide a monthly stipend and up to $1,000 for books but so far the VA has only paid out $1 billion to 150,000 veterans of the $78 billion total. The VA has acknowledged that there are problems and they are trying to work them out. They now have 1,200 staff members instead of 800 and there is a mandatory overtime policy. The VA expects that all claims received by January 15 will be paid by February 1. But as for right now the VA is thinking about doing another round of emergency payments and they are expected to have an automated system fully running by December 2010. But until that happens veterans are just trying to hold on until the money from their GI bill comes through.