Today, the House passed the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act (S.3447) to strengthen the New GI Bill for the 21stCentury, which will provide a four-year college education for nearly 300,000 veterans enrolled in college this fall. The legislation will make it easier for veterans to take advantage of New GI Bill education benefits to pay for tuition at public and private universities, including online education and distance learning, while expanding opportunities for job training and vocational education to help them enter into the work force. The bill will save taxpayer dollars by closing loopholes in the original legislation, matching stipends to attendance status, and eliminating duplication of benefits. The bill was passed by the Senate earlier this week and will now go to the President to be signed into law.
"Our brave men and women in uniform make a pledge to leave no solider behind on the battlefield, and this legislation is part of an ongoing effort to ensure no veteran is left behind when they return from their service," Rep. Schiff said.
Specifically, the bill streamlines the New GI Bill and makes it more equitable by:
* Expanding opportunities for training and education, covering vocational and technical schools, apprenticeships and on-the-job training that were not previously covered;
* Giving active-duty students a book stipend of $1,000 per year, like veterans under the program;
* Providing living allowances for distance learners, like injured veterans forced to take online classes;
* Simplifying the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans attending private colleges and universities and taking graduate courses, eliminating the confusing state cap system, and setting a $17,500 per year cap for tuition and fees; and
* Granting full credit to National Guardsmen, including those called up to respond to national disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the BP oil spill, making more than 130,000 eligible for this education benefit.
A range of veterans' organizations support this measure, including the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, National Guard Association, National Association of Uniformed Services, and Student Veterans of America.