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New G.I. Bill Aims to Provide Expanded Educational Benefits to Troops

A new G.I. bill signed into law Monday doubles funding for education benefits available to military personnel who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, and allows transfer of benefits to a spouse or children. Analysts discuss the law and its meaning for veterans.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original G.I. Bill in 1944, millions of World War II veterans got the chance to receive a college education.

    The bill has been updated over the years. But for many veterans who've fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, the education benefits have not kept pace.

    Right now, veterans can receive $1,100 a month, up to a total of $40,000, which covers only an average of 60 percent of the cost of four years at a public university.

    NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, took a look at that gap earlier this year. Here's part of that report.

  • JOHN MERROW, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Former Marine Kyle Williams served two tours in Iraq. After leaving the military, he enrolled at the University of California, but was shocked by the costs.

  • KYLE WILLIAMS, Former Marine:

    At UC Davis, it's going to cost me for the year about $25,000 between rent, books, tuition, and food and living costs.

  • JOHN MERROW:

    Williams' G.I. benefits, about $10,000 for the school year, will cover less than half of that, so he'll have to go deeply into debt.

  • KYLE WILLIAMS:

    For my first year at UC Davis, I'm looking to apply for a private loan, from about $12,000 to $15,000, hopefully to be approved for that, to cover my tuition upfront, books, and extra living costs, and rent.

  • JOHN MERROW:

    Williams had hoped his education benefits would go much further.

  • KYLE WILLIAMS:

    The fact that you're not compensated for the type of school you want to go to or the dreams that you may have or the goals that you have is one of the most frustrating things, that not only does it hurt you, but it holds you back.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Veterans like Kyle Williams may now be helped by a new law, signed only yesterday, that will more than double G.I. bill benefits, covering the cost of a full four-year education at the most expensive public university in state.

    To qualify for the tuition, fees, and housing stipend, veterans must have served at least three years on active duty since 9/11.

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