Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vets to Congress: Current GI Bill Inadequate

And that's putting it nicely. CNN reports that current Iraq and Afghanistan veterans feel baited and switched. Today, a group of Soldiers, Marines and airmen spoke to Congress complaining the current GI Bill is not enough to pay for even the most modest college eduation.

Najwa McQueen of the Louisiana National Guard said, "They kind of sell you a dream. You think you're going to get all of this stuff, and in reality, you don't get that. I just kind of believed what my recruiter told me, which is not the truth."

McQueen left behind her husband and 18-month-old daughter in October 2004 and served 10 months in Iraq. After her service, she enrolled in college and found that her total benefits from the GI Bill would be $400 a month for four months, totaling $1,600. Her classes alone, she said, cost $1,000 each. (CNN)

Currently, the GI Bill pays a maximum of $1,101 a month for 36 months to help cover tuition, room and board, and books. National Guard and Reservist average around $440 per month.

The kicker, and you need to watch this closely, is that it goes out in monthly installments, not all at once. Once you are out of the Army, you do not have access to the lump sum to cover the up front cost of the education. You have to pay in installments which includes the interest attached to the lingering balances.

Even if vets had access to pay costs up front, the total benefits would not come close to covering the cost of the education at a four year public university, especially considering the additional cost of living expenses.

I personally know a veteran couple that while going through a four-year university, got by on student loans, WIC, and food stamps aside from the combined benefits of the GI Bill. I have not personally seen the proposed modernized GI Bill, but any improvements would be welcome to the current system. Warning, this sucker is going to cost $2 billion.

I say that kind of investment in our young veterans will provide excellent returns.


Army Sergeant said...

Amen! Personally I favor Jim Webb's GI Bill, which also allows a living stipend. I'm a single parent. There's no way I can afford to go to college without something to cover housing as well as simply the costs. I can cover costs of school with financial aid, if need be, but something that entitles me to live without getting another full-time job is key.

Anonymous said...

The main reason I considered the Navy was to get a collage education and to escape the food and gas crisis. Now that I realized what the current GI Bill really is and what Bush's side is proposing after I enlisted, I realized I should had just gotten a job for a few years :(

I consider McCain and Bush's proposal as an insult to the veterans, recruits, and potential recruits. So you are only worth it if you make the military into your career, eh?