By Debbie Gregory.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill, designed to give Veterans serving since September 11, 2001 the best, most up to date education benefits possible, was approved by Congress in the summer of 2008. The Chapter 33 GI Bill, commonly referred to as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, or the New GI Bill went into effect on August 1, 2009.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers eligible Veterans who served at least 90 days since 9/11/2001 36 months of educational benefits that include tuition and a monthly allowance for housing. The percentage of tuition paid depends on the Veteran’s length of service, topping off at 100% of paid tuition for those who served at least three years of active duty. The monthly housing allowance is dependent on the postal zip code of the school, and matches the military’s E-5 with dependents Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) scale. The benefit also provides its recipients with a $500 per term stipend to cover other education costs, such as books, fees and supplies.
Since 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has tallied over 1,000,000 users of the Chapter 33 GI Bill. The VA identified Army Veteran Steven Ferraro as the 1 millionth recipient. Ferraro served from 2003-2013, and was deployed to Iraq in 2008 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ferraro is a Communications major at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.
As good as previous education benefits were, they only addressed the cost of tuition, not the fact that most Veterans also needed to support families through some type of income. Ferraro is an ideal model demonstrating who the Post-9/11 GI was designed to help. Most recipients are in their mid-twenties (but can be up to their forties), with families to support. Utilizing this benefit, Veterans are not only afforded the cost of tuition, but also afforded the time to attend classes.
The VA says that it has distributed over $30 billion in the form of tuition and other education-related payments in support of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and its one million users.