The Department of Veterans Affairs pledged  Wednesday that it is prepared to process benefits requests in a timely way as the spring semester gets started. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill started last year, the VA has paid more than $1.3 billion in benefits to more than 170,000 students. At the start of the fall semester, many veterans and the colleges that were enrolling them reported serious delays  in the certification of students and delivery of their benefits. Wednesday's statement acknowledged that some students faced "financial hardships" as a result. The new statement said that the VA has processed over 72,000 of the approximately 103,000 spring enrollments received.