The Raw Deal for Veterans

Taking advantage of the education benefits promised to military veterans has become a little difficult.

The GI Bill provides education benefits to veterans and their dependents. But now, according to a piece in the Huffington Post by Amanda Fairbanks, some veterans aren’t getting as much education as they were promised.

As Fairbanks writes:

Since its passage in 2008, the revamped G.I. Bill provides veterans who have served for a minimum of three years since Sept. 11, 2001 with full tuition at public two- and four-year schools. Money is allocated on a state-by-state basis and capped according to the highest amount of public in-state tuition. The Yellow Ribbon Program acts as a supplement so that eligible veterans can afford to attend private institutions. The money can also be used to cover out-of-state public schools and graduate or doctoral programs. In this way, the promise of the Yellow Ribbon Program was that it would enable veterans like Baker to attend private institutions free of cost.

But it isn’t going to work like that anymore.

But those rules changed in December of last year when the law was amended. [Veterans] were promised one thing and subsequently given another. Beginning Aug. 1, 2011, the current crop of student… veterans from across the country, will see their tuition capped at $17,500, regardless of the state in which they reside.

That $17,500 limit will apply to veterans attending college in seven states: Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Now arguably it makes a lot of sense to cap tuition payments. There’s nothing wrong with obliging veterans to attend affordable colleges. Many of America’s public universities keep total costs well under $18,000 a year. And the new rules still offer generous education.

But there’s something very wrong with a rule changes that forces America’s veterans to assume debt for taking advantage of a program that’s been disbanded.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation aimed at grandfathering in students to prevent them from having to assume debt just to finish their degrees.

According to Miller, his bill “is fully paid for and does not increase the deficit or create new spending.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer