BIDEN Champions Bipartisan G.I. Bill to Expand Educational Benefits for Returning Veterans
New programs similar to those provided to World War II-era veterans
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), announced his continuing support today for a comprehensive educational benefits package for returning veterans. Sen. Biden is a cosponsor of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S. 22) which would provide service members, including activated reservists and National Guard, who have served since September 11, 2001, with improved educational benefits similar to those provided to World War II-era veterans.
"Our nation has a sacred obligation to provide the highest quality education for the hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Sen. Biden. "Just as we must protect them and give them everything they need on the battlefield, we owe these young men and women the same support for their education upon their return home. They are our future."
This bill, which was introduced yesterday, makes it possible for service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan to earn up to 36 months of educational benefits, equivalent to four academic years. The bill also protects servicemen and women by ensuring that they would not lose any G.I. bill benefits if called to active duty or deployed during school and provides a monthly living stipend which would fairly compensate individuals for housing costs where they attend school. Similar benefits were available to World War II-era veterans and are largely credited for having a significant impact on the economic growth during that generation.
The bill includes provisions to:
* Make the education benefits equal for both active duty service members and National Guard and Reservists, based on their total amount of active service;
* Give incentives for colleges and universities to make tuition more affordable for veterans under the benefit;
* Allow veterans to use the educational benefit to help pay for tutorial assistance as well as licensing or certification tests. For example, after a nursing student completes his or her college courses, this benefit would help to pay for their nursing license test;
* Guarantee veterans would have up to fifteen years, compared to ten years under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, after they leave active duty to use their educational assistance entitlement.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The American Legion, the Military Officers' Association of America (MOAA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC).