Enrollment surges with flexible GI Bill

LAW KEEPS GI BILL FUNDS IN FAMILY

National Guard Staff Sgt. Charlene Newberry would like to eventually pass the college funding benefit she receives to her 1-year-old daughter, Chloe.

With a new GI Bill that went into effect in August, that's now a possibility.

"I'm pretty excited about it because she can get a good college education without it coming out of my pocket," said Newberry, a junior at Augusta State University.

Her husband, who is active-duty Army, will graduate from Troy University next year and also plans to transfer his remaining benefits to Chloe through the new bill.

Unlike the previous Montgomery GI Bill, the post-9/11 GI bill, which was approved by Congress in 2008, allows veterans to transfer remaining college-education benefits to a spouse or child.

The more generous allowance, some say, should swell the ranks of those attending college on GI bill assistance as the bill gains in popularity.

"There is a whole lot of interest in the post-9/11 bill," said Jan Northstar, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Locally, it's a trend that has already been seen at Augusta State University, which had 286 students enroll with GI Bill assistance in fall semester 2009, ASU spokeswoman Tunisia Williams said. That's 61 more than in fall 2008 and 70 more than in fall 2007.

At Augusta Technical College such numbers have slightly increased since fall 2007, with 265 of its more than 5,000 students receiving GI Bill help this winter quarter compared with 239 in fall 2007, according to school records.

The University of South Carolina Aiken's numbers have stayed steady, with 64 students receiving military funding this year and 65 last year, spokeswoman Jennifer Conner said.

Newberry, who served on Army active duty for six years, said most of the military students she has classes with at Augusta State are on the post-9/11 bill.

She said she applied when it became available in August. After a 41/2-month wait caused by a backlog of applicants, she said she decided to go back to the older Montgomery GI Bill.

Newberry said she receives about $1,500 a month.

The new bill offers tuition pay based on a veteran's time of service, a monthly housing allowance and as much as $1,000 a year for books and supplies.

Once she graduates with a psychology degree next year, Newberry said, she plans to again apply for the new bill so she can pass on her remaining benefits to her daughter.

Nationally, about 300,000 veterans are enrolled in higher education, according to the American Council on Education.

As of mid-January, Northstar said, the VA had processed about $1.3 billion in post-9/11 GI Bill payments to more than 167,000 student veterans enrolled for the fall semester. The VA also has received 103,000 spring enrollments under the new bill and has processed more than 72,000.

 

Learn about the new GI Bill

For more information on the post-9/11 GI Bill, visit either www.gibill.va.gov or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Facebook page on the topic at facebook.com/gibillEducation, making sure to capitalize "Education."

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Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:51

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