We take time on Veterans Day to remember and thank those who have served our country. We must also remember that the lives of these servicemen and women do not stop after they have completed their service in the military. The original GI Bill, which was passed in 1944, offered assistance in obtaining higher education and training for those returning from WWII, and has been updated multiple times since. The beneficiaries of this legislation flocked to higher education institutions in droves, and were an integral part of building the strong US economy in the 1950s and 60s.
However, with the sharp rise in college costs over the last 20 years, even the updated legislation was unlikely to cover all higher education expenses. The 2008 GI Bill provides benefits to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. This legislation goes much further in both honoring those who have served with benefits that help them to succeed in civilian life, and towards creating the educated workforce that will generate economic prosperity for our state and country. The post-9/11 GI Bill pays tuition and fees (a $750 per credit max in Minnesota) directly to the college or university, provides a monthly housing allowance and grants an annual books and supplies stipend. The addition, the Yellow Ribbon Program, in which 14 Minnesota Private College Council schools are participating, makes it more affordable for veterans to attend private colleges and universities. These programs are predicted to help 250,000 individuals begin higher education by 2011 and are a vitally important investment in our present and future.