August 2013 marks the fourth anniversary of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is closing in on a milestone: Soon, one million veterans of the Iraq- and Afghanistan-era wars will have signed up for educational benefits under this landmark legislation.
Among them are hundreds of honorably discharged veterans who have attended California University of Pennsylvania.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, widely known as the “new” G.I. Bill, assists eligible veterans by paying the full cost of in-state tuition and fees at public universities such as Cal U. The program also may provide a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies.
Nationally, the program has provided military veterans with nearly $30 billion in educational benefits at both public and private colleges and universities.
Veterans enrolled at California University have received more than $3 million in benefits since the program’s inception, says Capt. Robert Prah, director of Cal U’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
“Our veterans have earned this benefit through their military service,” says Prah. “By covering the cost of higher education, the G.I. Bill opens the door to opportunities that literally can change lives. This benefit can be a gateway to careers that require a college degree.”
Certain eligible veterans may be able to transfer their G.I. Bill benefits to their children or other dependents, Prah adds. “Our Veterans Affairs Office handles all the paperwork. We take away the stress, so veterans can concentrate on getting an education.”
An increasing number of veterans are using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to attend Cal U, Prah adds. He expects that more than 200 veterans will be using the program to attend the University in the upcoming fall semester. “Our students recognize Cal U’s commitment to our veterans, as well as to men and women who are on active duty or in the National Guard or reserves,” Prah says.
Cal U has been named one of the nation’s top Military-Friendly Universities by G.I. Jobs magazine for four consecutive years, and Military Edge has annually included Cal U in its “Best for Vets” college listing.
The Cal U admissions staff works closely with veterans who wish to enroll in traditional classes, and a military coordinator in the Office of Web-Based Programs assists those seeking to earn a degree 100 percent online.
On campus, the Office of Veterans Affairs also provides support for military members, veterans and their families.