Put Your Post 9-11 GI Bill to Work for You – You’ve Earned It!

06/08/2010  |  Johanna Altland Director of Communications, Grantham University
The Griffon

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of buzz about the astoundingly high unemployment rates for veterans, a trend that that has been worsening for years. In 2008, the National Public Radio broadcasted that, of the two million veterans returning home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in five was jobless and one in four made less than $22,000 per year. In April 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 14.7 percent unemployment rate for these veterans is the highest it’s been in more than a year. That number is even higher for veterans, ages 18 to 24. In an article published by the ArmyTimes on March 12, 2010, the Labor Department estimated that the unemployment rate for this group was 21.1 percent in 2009. There is no doubt that this is a serious issue for those who have sacrificed and given so much to protect our country.

The consensus is that we need to do more as a nation to prepare our veterans and service members for transition from the military to the civilian workforce. One way to accomplish this is through continuing education. Research is clear that those who possess an undergraduate or graduate degree are less likely to be unemployed and have significantly lower jobless rates. In 2009, the unemployment rate for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.6 percent versus the 9.7 percent unemployment rate for high school graduates. While a college degree can’t guarantee you employment in today’s job market, it can give you an edge and make you more competitive.

Many see the August 2009 launch of the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a step in the right direction. This bill provides educational assistance to those service members and veterans who’ve served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001. Many view it as the next generation of the existing Montgomery GI Bill that first began in 1944 as the GI Bill of Rights.

The new Post-9/11 GI Bill pays tuition and fees, not to exceed the maximum in-state undergraduate tuition and fees at a public institution of higher learning in the state where your school is located; a monthly housing allowance for those who qualify; a books and supplies stipend, not to exceed $1,000 per year, for those who qualify; and a one-time rural benefit of $500 for those who qualify. Like the Montgomery GI Bill, eligible service members will generally receive up to 36 months of benefits.

If you have a combined total of 90 days of active service on or after September 11, 2001, or if you’ve been discharged with a service connected disability after 30 days of service, you are entitled to the new benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has designed a comprehensive GI Bill Web site, http://va.gov/, where you can learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, compare the benefits, and apply online in a few easy steps. Since the inception of the new GI Bill, the VA has paid over $1.3 billion to more than 170,000 students and opened the door to higher education to more than 183,000 veteran students (Source: VA Public Affairs).

Don’t let these valuable education benefits go to waste, after all, you’ve earned them through your service and dedication to our nation. No matter where your future is headed, education is an investment that will last a lifetime.  

Johanna Altland, Director of Communications for Grantham University, established in 1951, has written extensively about distance education for several publications. For more information about Grantham University’s 100 percent online degree programs and its Military Scholarship programs, visit www.grantham.edu or call 800-955-2527.
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