Can Uncle Sam Help Vets Get Bang for Their College Buck?

Veterans Affairs is promising its program will help students effectively use their GI Bill tuition funding.

National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 5, 2014, 8:02 a.m.

The Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment rolled out a tool Tues­day that al­lows vet­er­ans and their fam­il­ies to go on­line and see what col­lege costs are covered un­der the post-9/11 GI Bill.

The GI Bill com­par­is­on tool breaks down the tu­ition, hous­ing al­low­ance, and cost of books covered for more than 10,000 col­leges and train­ing pro­grams based on a vet­er­an’s cu­mu­lat­ive post-9/11 activ­ity-duty ser­vice and mil­it­ary status. The VA is also re­leas­ing the num­ber of GI Bill be­ne­fi­ciar­ies at an in­sti­tu­tion for the first time.

Vic­tor­ia Dillon, a deputy press sec­ret­ary at the VA, said the web­site culled in­form­a­tion “from more than 17 dif­fer­ent on­line sources,” adding that it is a “one-stop shop for the in­form­a­tion they need to make im­port­ant edu­ca­tion­al de­cisions.”

For ex­ample, a vet­er­an who was on act­ive duty for three years or more after Sept. 11, 2001, could get all of the in-state tu­ition cost at the Uni­versity of Vir­gin­ia paid for, as well as a $1,365 hous­ing al­low­ance per month if they are full time, and 1,000 per year for books, ac­cord­ing to the VA’s web­site.

The web­site in­cludes oth­er, non­vet­er­an in­form­a­tion on a school, such as gradu­ation rates and the me­di­an amount bor­rowed.

The VA’s rol­lout comes after the House passed le­gis­la­tion Monday that re­quires all pub­lic uni­versit­ies to give in-state tu­ition rates to vet­er­ans or risk los­ing oth­er GI Bill edu­ca­tion be­ne­fits.

A sim­il­ar pro­vi­sion is in­cluded in Sen. Bernie Sanders’s om­ni­bus vet­er­ans’ le­gis­la­tion bill that could be taken up by the Sen­ate as early as Thursday, al­though the timeline is flex­ible.

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