It was a nice idea while it lasted: The new GI Bill promised veterans who wanted to go to college money for tuition, books and living expenses. More than 277,000 signed up for the program, which was supposed to kick in Aug. 1. Many are still waiting for their checks.

According to a report in the New York Times, the problem has to do with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ outdated IT and the difficulty of calculating benefits:

Mr. Wilson said the veterans department had prepared for the expected tide of applications by hiring 750 claims processors. But aging technology and the sheer complexity of the program have made it impossible to keep pace, he said.

Many records have to be entered manually into computer systems, he said, and benefits have to be calculated individually for every applicant. Processors must use complex formulas that consider location of the college, type of academic program, a veteran’s length of service and other variables. [Link]

The money is there. The will to do right by these veterans — and create a better educated workforce in the process — is there. The VA needs to channel Tim Gunn and make it work. — PS

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