CSUMB ready to serve those who served
Aug. 4, 2009
The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act went into effect Aug. 1, creating a new GI Bill benefit program designed for those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. CSU Monterey Bay is ready to assist current and new student-veterans in taking advantage of this program.
During a ceremony at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., President Barrack Obama said helping veterans who have served since the 9/11 attacks with college tuition and housing is more than a "moral obligation."
"We do it because these men and women must now be prepared to lead our nation in the peaceful pursuit of economic leadership in the 21st century," the president said.
The new Post-9/11 GI Bill is modeled after the highly successful post-World War II Servicemen's Readjustment Act, the original GI Bill, which is credited with making education affordable for eight million World War II veterans. Three U.S. presidents, three Supreme Court justices and 14 Nobel Prize winners have benefited from the GI Bill, President Obama said.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki estimated that a quarter of a million veterans – including members of the Reserves and National Guard – will benefit from the newly expanded GI Bill by 2011.
Under the new bill, the formula to determine a veteran's educational benefits is tied to months of active service. Those who have accumulated 36 months of active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, receive 100 percent of the new bill's benefits. The figure drops to 40 percent for those who served just 90 days.
The new bill is designed to replace the Montgomery GI Bill, which has provided a lower level of education funding for those who have served in the military since July 1, 1985. That bill, created during a relatively peaceful period near the end of the Cold War, seemed adequate at the time it was created.
But since the advent of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans successfully argued that the Montgomery GI Bill didn't go far enough in helping those who routinely put their lives on the line. The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers significantly better benefits.
The new bill covers the full cost of fees, and includes a monthly housing allowance based on the location of the college or university. The allowance for someone attending CSUMB and taking at least 12 credits is $1,949 per month. The bill also includes a stipend of up to $1,000 per year for books.
Fees are paid directly to the university, housing and book benefits directly to the veteran.
CSUMB was already veteran-friendly, thanks to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Troops to College program, which was announced in March 2006. Since then, the university has added pages to its website with information specifically for veterans; has a specially designated counselor and support team to help veterans make the transition from active duty service to accomplishing their personal educational goals; and will establish a Student Veterans Organization on campus in the fall.
CSUMB has seen an increase in the number of queries and applications from veterans since the webpage went up and the veterans' contact was put in place. The number of veterans contacting the university for pre-admission counseling has increased, with some of the queries coming from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the semester just completed, 35 CSUMB students were using various GI Bill benefits and another 20 were using the GI Bill Dependents Educational Assistance program as eligible dependents of veterans. Another 36 students were eligible for the College Fee Waiver Program for Veterans' Dependents through the California Department of Veterans Affairs. These students, as family members of disabled or deceased veterans, receive a waiver of fees.
For fall 2009, 24 students will be using the new program, and more are expected to sign up in the months to come.