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New GI Bill

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By The Staff

After much haggling in Congress, it’s finally here: The newest incarnation of GI education benefits has been signed into law. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act replaces the Montgomery GI Bill and nearly doubles the dollar amount of benefits. This new benefits package guarantees full four-year (36 month) scholarships at any public state university for those who’ve served for three years since Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, there’s a monthly housing stipend (the amount will be tied to the cost of living in a given ZIP code) if attending school full time, and a book allowance of up to $1,000 per year. It also includes tutoring help and licensing/certification test costs. Those who served less than three years would receive partial pro-rated benefits. For example, if you served 24 months after Sept. 11, 2001, your benefit would be 80 percent. Even three months of service will qualify for a portion of benefits. If you attend a private school that costs more than the public colleges, the bill will add a dollar for every dollar that the school kicks in. If you served for 30 days and were discharged for a service-related disability after Sept. 11, 2001, you qualify. Benefits have to be used within 15 years. Under certain circumstances, veterans may be able to transfer unused benefits to a child or spouse. The benefits are set to kick in beginning August 2009 (a fact bemoaned by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is crying that it can’t be ready for at least two years). Those currently on the Montgomery Bill will see a 20-percent increase in benefit money. For all the details and to see if you qualify, go to www.gibill.va.gov, or call (888) 442-4551.