PRO­POSAL WITH BI­PAR­TI­SAN CON­GRES­SIONAL SUP­PORT WOULD BOOST COL­LEGE AID FOR VET­ER­ANS

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD -

House Repub­li­cans and Democrats un­veiled leg­is­la­tion Thurs­day that would pro­vide the big­gest ex­pan­sion of col­lege aid for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans in a decade, re­mov­ing a 15-year time limit to tap into ben­e­fits and in­creas­ing money for thou­sands in the Na­tional Guard and Re­serve.

The bi­par­ti­san agree­ment is a sweep­ing ef­fort to fill cov­er­age gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly chang­ing job mar­ket. Build­ing on ma­jor leg­is­la­tion passed in 2008 that guar­an­teed a full-ride schol­ar­ship to any in-state pub­lic univer­sity — or a sim­i­lar cash amount for pri­vate col­lege stu­dents — the bill gives vet­er­ans added flex­i­bil­ity to en­roll in col­lege later in life. Vet­er­ans would get ad­di­tional pay­ments if they com­plete science, tech­nol­ogy and engi­neer­ing cour­ses.

For a stu­dent at­tend­ing a pri­vate univer­sity, the ad­di­tional ben­e­fits to mem­bers of the Guard and Re­serve could mean $2,300 a year more in tu­ition than they are re­ceiv­ing now, plus a big­ger hous­ing al­lowance.

The Amer­i­can Le­gion, the na­tion’s largest vet­er­ans’ group, said the plan would mean a “new era” for those who served in uni­form.

“Years from now, vet­er­ans who were un­able to at­tend in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing dur­ing their mil­i­tary ser­vice or im­me­di­ately after­ward will be able to earn de­grees and be­gin re­ward­ing ca­reers that can lead our econ­omy,” said Charles E. Sch­midt, na­tional com­man­der of the Amer­i­can Le­gion. The group drafted the orig­i­nal GI Bill of Rights in 1944 that cre­ated the com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion ben­e­fit for World War II and fu­ture vet­er­ans.

The bill’s lead spon­sor is Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chair­man of the House Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tee. He said he would sched­ule a com­mit­tee vote next week. The No. 2 House leader, Rep. Kevin Mc­Carthy, R-Calif., said the House would act quickly to help vet­er­ans. —AP

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