Our guest blog article today is provided courtesy of Allied American University (AAU), a military friendly college that offers online associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
New GI Bill Benefits Will Send More Veterans to College
This past summer Congress voted to increase GI Bill benefits for American veterans, and US colleges are expecting to enroll more and more veterans, many of them fresh from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The increased benefits will allow many veterans to focus solely on school when they get out, instead of trying to balance full-time work while they tackle a degree. Right now there are currently 320,000 students taking advantage of GI Bill benefits, which is based on the federal program created at the end of World War II to help returning veterans pay for college.
Modifications to the GI Bill now allow veterans to attend private schools, in addition to providing them with a monthly housing stipend, as well as money to help pay for textbooks.
“We’ll see a huge increase in vets going to school,” Rodrigo Garcia, Midwest regional director of Student Veterans of America told the South town Star. “Before they were hesitant to go to school because many of the vets have families and wanted to take care of them. It was too pressing to take classes, work full time and provide for the kids.”
The new GI Bill benefits will go into effect in Aug. 2009 and many experts predict that as many as 500,000 vets will enroll in college using the benefits. Many universities these days are proactive in making sure veterans enrolled at their respective schools know about the new benefits.
The transition from the military to the university is often a difficult one for veterans. There is certainly a world of difference between a typical 19-year-old freshmen and a veteran who may be in his late 20s, with multiple combat tours under his belt.
There are also veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or have physical disabilities as a result of war-time injuries. Veterans with disabilities qualify for special assistance through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program of the VA, which may pay 100% of a veteran’s expenses until graduation.
Many veterans began their education before they separated from the service, by using Tuition Assistance to pay for classes at both community colleges and four-year universities. Some service members took classes online, which allowed them to study while deployed.
In the state of Illinois, for example, there are now 15,500 veterans enrolled in college. When the new GI Bill goes into effect next August, veterans who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001 will be eligible for benefits (some restrictions apply).
The government will pay the full-cost of tuition and fees for veterans who served three years on active duty or were injured. The housing allowance, for example, for a veteran in the Chicago, Ill.-area will be approximately $1,600 per month. Veterans will also receive up to $1,000 annually for books and other school supplies, plus $100 a month for tutoring.
There are now a number of online universities that specialize in enrolling veterans and service members. Many of them offer textbook and military spouse scholarships, along with self-paced schedules and other military-friendly policies.
Good News from Merrimack College
Merrimack College (North Andover, MA) announced today that it will not raise tuition, room, or board next year.