By Harper Mac
The G.I. Bill was introduced after World War II for soldiers returning from the Pacific and European fronts. Often touted as one of the contributors to the post-war economic boom, the G.I. Bill was revolutionary because it provided funding for soldiers to go to college without the economic burden associated with high tuition. Because of the G.I. Bill, a whole generation received the education of their choice. Many influential English professors and writers of the 1950’s received their education thanks to the G.I. Bill.
The Yellow Ribbon Benefits program is an addition to the G.I. Bill that offers extra benefits for certain students. Colleges, including some private colleges and online universities, who participate in this program agree to enter into partner ship with the VA to fund any additional tuition expenses that are higher than average in-state undergraduate tuition costs. There are some stipulations in the Yellow Ribbon program as to who can claim eligibility. Applicants must have served in active duty capacity for at least 36 months or have been honorably discharged for a service related disability with at least 30 days of continuous service after September 10, 2001. Dependents of retired military service personnel who wish to participate in this program must be eligible for an entitlement transfer from a veteran who meets the previous service criteria.
The G.I. Bill has continued to evolve to include education benefits for family members of active and retired military personnel. These benefits often make a huge difference in the ability of active or former soldiers’ dependents having the ability to pursue higher education. And as the G.I. Bill has evolved, so too has the education system. And as people who depend on the G.I. Bill begin to change direction in how they receive education, the G.I. Bill has had to have changes made to reflect that. As more students began to pursue an online education, the G.I. Bill had to adapt to the educational environment. Certain universities who offer online degrees are participating in the Yellow Ribbon benefits program.
The newest version of the G.I. Bill offers a living stipend for students who are attending university online. This much-needed tweak of the bill was a long time coming. Before the newest version, students who wanted the flexibility and convenience of online classes weren’t eligible for the same living stipends as their peers who were attending traditional brick and mortar campuses. This created an inherent conflict between a student’s choice and preference in regards to education and a justified interest in financial self-preservation. Students who think they may meet the Yellow Ribbon benefit stipulations should definitely inquire about their eligibility. The VA should be able to make a fairly quick determination about whether a student can take advantage of the additional benefits.
From soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy and raised the flag on Iwo Jima, to soldiers who braved IED’s on the roads of Iraq and mortar attacks in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, the G.I. Bill continues to help troops once they get stateside again. And just like the vanguard of intelligentsia in the 1950’s was formed after receiving education paid for by the G. I. Bill, the future of America’s intellectual capital may continue to be fueled in the same way.
Harper Mac loves writing and reading about education. She writes on behalf of an online education program.