GI Bill Influences Educational Decisions

When the new GI Bill was signed into law more than two years ago, it outlined ways to expand education benefits to veterans. So far it has helped hundreds of thousands of vets earn an education, according to a study by the American Council on Education and the RAND Corporation.

The study found that almost one quarter of those service members surveyed decided to enroll at a higher education institution because of the benefits offered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Researchers also studied a focus group, from which a “substantial share” reported that the new GI Bill benefits drove their decision to enroll. About 18 percent of responstardents said the new GI Bill influenced where they enrolled.

Passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in June 2008 was a long time coming. Without question, its passage marked the biggest increased in veterans’ benefits since the original GI Bill passed in 1944. The new GI Bill set out to give more education benefits to Armed Forces members who served after Sept. 10, 2001. A year after the Post-9/11 GI Bill was signed into law more than 500,000 applicants sought benefits, and more than 300,000 used them to attend a college or university.

Before the new GI Bill got signed into law veterans and service members depended on the old GI Bill for college tuition, books and student living costs. But the old benefits were not enough. Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans who receive the benefits are guaranteed monthly living allowance and a book stipend in addition to four years of tuition and fees at state universities.

More changes could be underway for veterans’ education benefits per legislation in Congress. The legislation would streamline veterans’ payments by standardizing tuition for most college-bound veterans. Right now, states have specific payments. Lobbyists for veterans don’t see this expansion to happen any time soon, but possibly next year.

Photo thanks to usag. yongsan under creative common license on Flickr.

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