Members of the Senate are pushing for an increase in the GI Bill, which would provide more money to veterans who choose to pursue a college education after being discharged.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act would increase the amount of money veteran students receive from the U.S. government to pay for educational expenses.
Under the current bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, veteran students who serve in active duty receive about $900 a month for the academic year to cover all educational expenses, regardless of what university or college they attend. If passed, the new bill would increase that amount to $1,000 per month for those who served in active duty.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) first proposed the bill in February 2007. Webb is one of two senators who have a son deployed in Iraq.
Jayson Freudenrich, a senior majoring in English at CSUN and a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq during 2003, said the increase in funding would be nice, but the Montgomery GI bill provides him with the necessary funds to pursue a higher education.
“I love the GI Bill. That’s my bread and butter,” said Freudenrich.
“Sure, I did put in my time, but you put your time in at any job, and they aren’t going to get a free education.” said Freudenrich. “I make money going to school. I don’t pay money to go to school. That is why I can take 18 units a semester.”
Along with the money from the GI Bill, the military provides Freudenrich with a 10 percent disability compensation for hearing loss received from his tour of duty in Iraq. He also receives a “kicker,” which is an increase in the amount provided by the GI Bill for education, provided that recipients paid a sum of money some time during their military career.
But Freudenrich said that even though the GI Bill provides a sufficient amount of money toward his education without the need for financial aid, he would not have the opportunity to attend CSUN like he does now.
“It all boils down to how you spend your money. You don’t need to spend a lot of money,” said Freudenrich.
Reserves Officers Training Corps student and U.S. Army veteran Alex Um does not face any financial crunch paying for education with the amount of money the GI Bill provides.
“The (GI) Bill gives me a good amount of money. I have no problem at all,” said Um.
After working at a reserve unit and a temporary intelligence detail in South Korea, Um returned to the U.S. and applied to CSUN, where he became an ROTC cadet. Um said the GI Bill helps with his educational expenses, and the salary he receives from his part-time job is more for an excess of disposable income than a needed increase in money for school.
The “Trends in College Pricing for 2007” report by the College Board indicates the average cost (tuition and fees) for undergraduates attending four-year public colleges in the U.S. is $13,089 a year. In California, the average price for attending a public 4-year college is $4,971.
The Post-9/11 bill would also allow veterans to use their educational assistance within 15 years, as opposed to the 10 years that is the maximum amount of time allotted to use the educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill.
The original GI Bill was implemented in 1944 to provide veterans returning from World War II the opportunity to pursue an education. The bill provided full tuition, along with compensation for housing and living expenses. In the mid 1980s, the bill was changed to a peacetime compensation. Subsequently, the benefits provided by the bill were scaled back.
Under the new bill, which is in place today, veterans received a flat sum to cover all expenses related to education. Since then, the amount that veterans receive has increased to match rising education costs.
Since its proposal in 2007, more than 50 senators have signed on as supporters of the bill, including California Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.).