WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A backlog in processing education benefits has forced the Department of Veterans Affairs to authorize millions of dollars in emergency funds for veterans who need the cash to pay for school.
The Veterans Affairs department will give up to $3,000 to students who haven't received funds from education bills
The department announced Friday that it will issue up to $3,000 to students who have yet to receive the funds that the VA's various education bills -- including the recently passed Post-9/11 GI Bill -- provide to help veterans pay for college.
"This is an extraordinary action we're taking," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement. "But it's necessary because we recognize the hardships some of our Veterans face."
The VA estimates there are 75,000 veterans eligible for the emergency funds, including 25,000 veterans who have served since September 11.
VA statistics show more than 27,500 vets have already received benefits for housing or books under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, and hundreds of thousands more have gotten benefits under its other programs.
The delay in processing the benefits has created much consternation among veterans, with some worried they would have to drop out of school because of a lack of funds. The lag was caused because some schools have not yet filed for the tuition and because of a backlog at the Veterans Affairs offices, according to a department official.
Any money given to eligible veterans will be deducted from the education benefits they are scheduled to receive and can be used for housing and books. The VA has been speaking to schools to ensure that veterans do not get kicked out if their tuition has not yet been paid, said VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts.
"Veterans were having a lot of financial issues, and we needed to address them," she said.
To help with the influx of applications, the department has hired more than 700 extra processors.
Veterans groups said the emergency funds were much needed.
"AMVETS is very happy with the swift action taken by the secretary. We suggested a similar solution earlier this month so we are happy to see they're listening," said Ryan Galluci, a spokesman for AMVETS, a veterans' service organization.