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Local veterans worry about funding deadline

Henrietta, N.Y. -- They served their country, but now they may soon be cut off from an assistance program and left footing a big bill.

Its called the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, VRAP for short, and according to the VA, more than 74,000 veterans are enrolled in the program. It gives approximately $1,600 a month in tuition assistance for veterans at community colleges, but VRAP is scheduled to expire March 31.

Veterans gathered at Monroe Community College to support efforts to extend the VRAP program.

If you take this away from them, they may not be able to finish college, said David Chapin, a veteran attending MCC. My hope is that every veteran gets the education they deserve and desire.

The potential expiration date for the funding is making matters worse for veterans. Its scheduled to end in the middle of the semester.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is now pushing to extend the program through 2016. Hes co-sponsoring the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Act to try and reauthorize funding and make tuition assistance eligible at four-year institutions for comparable training programs if none can be found at a local community college.

I guess when they funded it they did it for the budget year as opposed to the school year, said Schumer when asked why the bill expired in the middle of a semester. It doesnt make sense."

Schumer said the bill is already funded and that all it needs is authorization.

That should make passing it easier, he said, also adding a word of warning. These days in Washington, you never know even the best of things get caught up in the gridlock.

Schumer said he expects the bill to come before the Senate as soon as this week.

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Washington Times