The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

National News

July 7, 2009

New GI benefits vary widely by state

By JUSTIN POPE

AP Education Writer

When the new GI Bill kicks in Aug. 1, the government’s best-known education program for veterans will get the biggest boost since its World War II-era creation. But the benefit is hardly the “Government Issue,” one-size-fits-all standard the name implies.When the new GI Bill kicks in Aug. 1, the government’s best-known education program for veterans will get the biggest boost since its World War II-era creation. But the benefit is hardly the “Government Issue,” one-size-fits-all standard the name implies.

In fact, depending on where service members and veterans decide to attend college, they could receive a full ride, or very little.

An Associated Press review of state-by-state benefits under the new bill shows huge discrepancies in the amount veterans can receive.

For example:

— Veterans attending New Hampshire colleges like Dartmouth might get $25,000 from the government each year, and in Dartmouth’s case essentially a free ride, thanks to an additional grant from the Ivy League school. But in neighboring Massachusetts, it is a different story. At that state’s numerous private schools — many just as expensive as Dartmouth — the government’s baseline tuition benefit is only about $2,200 a year.

— Veterans who choose a private school in Texas could get close to $20,000 a semester from the government for a typical course load. Those picking schools in California will get nothing for tuition.

The explanation stems from the formula the government created, as well as a much-criticized decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs on how to implement the law.

The new GI Bill covers full in-state undergraduate tuition and fees at any public college. That’s far more generous than the old GI Bill, which provides a monthly stipend that is the same from state to state.

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