U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill applauded the start of a new program to expand educational benefits for troops who have served in the military since September 11, 2001. The bipartisan Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, which passed into law last year, is modeled after the G.I. Bill that was offered to troops returning home from World War II. McCaskill was a cosponsor of the legislation in the Senate.
"Saturday was a good day for our country because we kicked off a program that not only demonstrates to our troops how much we appreciate their honor and bravery, but also provides these newest veterans with the same kind of benefits we offered troops, like my dad, when they returned home from World War II," McCaskill said.
During World War II, Congress established educational assistance for veterans under the first "GI Bill". With the benefits provided for the World War II generation, 7.8 million veterans received educational benefits, rapidly boosting the number of Americans pursuing higher education and generating seven dollars in the economy for every dollar invested in the veterans. Since World War II, Congress has passed new GI bills to give benefits to military servicemembers but none were as extensive or as generous as the original and most were designed to provide a benefit for peacetime service as opposed to wartime service.
Now, the new Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S. 22) will give our active duty military and veterans the educational opportunities they deserve. The benefits today's generation of veterans will be entitled to include the following:
Benefits provided under the bill would allow veterans pursuing an approved program of education to receive payments covering the established charges of their programs, up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public school, plus a monthly stipend equivalent to housing costs in their area. The bill would allow additional payments for tutorial assistance, as well as licensure and certification tests.
Increased educational benefits would be available to all members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and National Guard. To qualify, veterans must have served at least three to thirty-six months of qualified active duty, beginning on or after September 11, 2001.
The bill provides for educational benefits to be paid in amounts linked to the amount of active duty served in the military after 9/11. Generally, veterans would receive some amount of assistance proportional to their service. Veterans would receive the benefits during their time in school, up to 36 months of benefits, which equals four academic years. Veterans would also still be eligible to receive any incentive-based supplemental educational assistance from their military branch for which they qualify.
Veterans would have up to fifteen years after they leave active duty to use their educational assistance entitlement. Veterans would be barred from receiving concurrent assistance from this program and another similar program.
The bill would create a new program in which the government will agree to match, dollar for dollar, any voluntary additional contributions to veterans from institutions whose tuition is more expensive than the maximum educational assistance provided under S. 22.
Some veterans will also be eligible to transfer their benefits to their children or spouse.
Senator McCaskill's office has free materials available to our military men and women and veterans who are interested in this new program. Please call 202-224-6154 for more information.