TCU GI Bill students find difficulty in utilizing tutoring benefits

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    Correction: An article posted on Friday, February 15, 2013, incorrectly reported that student veterans were not able to receive tutoring benefits.

    Student veterans and other GI Bill users find it difficult to take advantage of tutoring benefits, according to senior political science major and veteran Landon Woods.

    Under the Tutorial Assistance Program, students can receive a monthly reimbursement that does not exceed the cost of tutoring or $100, with the maximum amount payable $1,200, as listed on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

    In order to receive this compensation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requires the university to "approve" each tutor in their department of tutoring.

    According to Woods, TCU has lists of approved tutors by department, but they are either small or non-existent.

    Because of this, a student seeking a tutor in a department in which there are no approved tutors renders the student unable to receive the tutoring reimbursement, he said.

    Veteran Affairs Officer Ricardo Avitia explained that the university once had much lengthier tutor lists, but an incident a few years ago created problems.

    The incident, Avitia said, was a tutor attempted to take advantage of another student. Due to liability issues, the approved lists were temporarily disbanded.

    Following the incident, lists for each department were re-made from scratch, but with new requirements for those applying to be tutors, he said.

    “In order to be a part of [the new] tutor lists, students have to go through a background check for safety,” Avitia said.

    Avitia explained that these new lists allow for GI Bill tutoring reimbursement as they did before the incident occurred. The problem is that some departments, like geology, have no approved tutors.

    Woods said to his understanding, this new requirement of a background check is what's causing trouble for the departments to find willing students.

    Avitia, who keeps a small list of tutors for GI Bill users he recruits through TCU Announce, agrees.

    “After putting out the TCU Announce ad, I can only assume that the word ‘background check’ may deter some students [from becoming a tutor],” he said.

    With Avitia's recruited list being relatively small, those wanting to use their benefit are recommended to first check with the department in which they need a tutor, he explained.

    If the department does not have a list and the GI Bill user knows someone willing to tutor them, the proper steps must be taken for that student to become an approved tutor:

    “First that student needs to go to the department. They need to have passed the course they want to tutor in with a B or higher,” he said. “Then go through a small background check. Once the background check has been conducted [and approved by the Provost’s office], that student is TCU approved.”

    Avitia said he thinks the background check, while it may deter some students, is a good idea.

    “If a student has nothing to hide, then why not go through a background check?” he said. “If the student doesn’t want to, they might not be a student you want to be tutored by.”

    Woods, who neither agrees or disagrees with the background check, said a school with GI Bill students needs to at least have approved tutors available from each department.

    "There needs to be some sort of universal way for a veteran to get a tutor," he said. "[Tutors] should be available to everyone, and not just a select group of people."