Bill offers vets education, aid

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect Aug. 1, increases educational benefits for most of the nation’s veterans.

The bill provides funding for veterans’ full in-state tuition, as well as housing and book stipends.

The Montgomery GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI bill’s predecessor, did not fully pay for tuition and covered only 36 months of full-time benefits. This forced many many veterans to bear the cost of their educational expenses.
UH has a large veteran population, which will only grow because of the Post-9/11 bill.

‘It’s great, what’s not to like about it,’ said Thien Ho, United States Marine Corps veteran of five years and UH literature senior. ‘It is going to pay for tuition, give you housing allowance and a book stipend.’

Ho works two jobs to pay his tuition because the former GI Bill did not provide enough assitance. He applied for the Post-9/11 education benefits and said the new bill will offer him more flexibility.

Congress approved the Post-9/11 bill in 2008, authored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Reservists and National Guard members ca also qualify for benefits, something the Montgomery bill did not offer.

Allen Grundy, Program Director at UH Veterans’ Service Office and a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Air Force for 22 years, said this bill was belated.

‘I believe this is the best thing that has happened in the past 50 years for veterans,’ Grundy said. ‘It is very hard at this time with the economy being as it is to support yourself.’

For qualifying veterans at UH, the housing allowance is $1,530 a month with an annual book stipend of $1,000.

‘We try to educate every veteran as we certify them,’ UH Veterans Certification Program Manager Kristopher M. Butler said. ‘Because this is a new GI bill, we want to let them know how this compares to other chapters.’

UH has 2,500 veterans, who receive educational benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. Four hundred more students have applied for the Post-9/11 bill since it went into effect, Butler said.

To receive assistance, veterns must have at least 90 days of service after Sept. 11, 2001. Those who served at least three years after 9/11 may be eligible to receive 100 percent of the housing and education benefits.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill allows a veterans to transfer leftover benefits from their entitlement to their spouse or dependent.

UH is allowing admission of veterans after the general deadline on a case-by-case basis. Many universities are not doing this, but Butler said UH wants to be as veteran friendly as possible.

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