The Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). It was designed by the American Legion, who helped push it through Congress by mobilizing its chapters (along with the Veterans of Foreign Wars); the goal was to provide immediate rewards for practically all World War II veterans.
The act avoided the highly disputed postponed life insurance policy payout for World War I veterans that caused political turmoil for a decade and a half after that war. Benefits included dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses to attend high school, college or vocational/technical school, low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It was available to all veterans who had been on active duty during the war years for at least 90 days and had not been dishonorably discharged—exposure to combat was not required. The recipients did not pay any income tax on the GI benefits, since they were not considered earned income.
By 1956, roughly 7.8 million veterans had used the G.I. Bill education benefits, some 2.2 million to attend colleges or universities and an additional 5.6 million for some kind of training program.
Historians and economists judge the G.I. Bill a major political and economic success—especially in contrast to the treatments of World War I veterans—and a major contribution to America's stock of human capital that encouraged long-term economic growth.
Canada operated a similar program for its World War II veterans, with a similarly beneficial economic impact. Since the original U.S. 1944 law, the term has come to include other benefit programs created to assist veterans of subsequent wars as well as peacetime service.
During the 1940s, "fly-by-night" for-profit colleges sprang up to collect veterans' education grants, because the program provided limited oversight. Similarly, for-profit colleges and their lead generators have taken advantage of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill to target veterans for subpar products and services. According to CBS News, about 40 percent of all GI Bill education funds go to for-profit colleges.  The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, does have a GI Bill feedback form for recipients to address their complaints against colleges. In 2012, President Barack Obama also signed Executive Order 13607, which was to ensure that predatory colleges did not aggressively recruit military service members, veterans, and their families. In 2017 President Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Bill extending the allowable time period for veterans to pursue educational opportunities.
On June 22, 1944, the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, was signed into law.
During the war, politicians wanted to avoid the postwar confusion about veterans' benefits that became a political football in the 1920s and 1930s. Veterans' organizations that had formed after the First World War had millions of members; they mobilized support in Congress for a bill that provided benefits only to veterans of military service, including men and women. Ortiz says their efforts "entrenched the VFW and the Legion as the twin pillars of the American veterans' lobby for decades."
Harry W. Colmery, Republican National Committee chairman and a former National Commander of the American Legion, is credited with writing the first draft of the G.I. Bill. He reportedly jotted down his ideas on stationery and a napkin at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland, Democrat-Arizona, was actively involved in the bill's passage and is known, with Warren Atherton, Republican-California, one of the "fathers of the G.I. Bill." One might then term Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican-Mass, who helped write and who co-sponsored the legislation, as the "mother of the G.I. Bill". As with Colmery, her contribution to writing and passing this legislation has been obscured by time.
The bill that President Roosevelt initially proposed had a means test—only poor veterans would get one year of funding; only top-scorers on a written exam would get four years of paid college. The American Legion proposal provided full benefits for all veterans, including women and minorities, regardless of their wealth.
An important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen, with more favorable terms for new construction compared to existing housing. This encouraged millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes.
Another provision was known as the 52–20 clause for unemployment. Unemployed war veterans would receive $20 once a week for 52 weeks for up to one year while they were looking for work. Less than 20 percent of the money set aside for the 52–20 Club was distributed. Rather, most returning servicemen quickly found jobs or pursued higher education.
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Although the G.I. Bill did not specifically advocate discrimination, it was interpreted differently for blacks than for whites. Historian Ira Katznelson argued that "the law was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow". Because the programs were directed by local, white officials, many veterans did not benefit. Of the first 67,000 mortgages insured by the G.I. Bill, fewer than 100 were taken out by non-whites.
By 1946, only one-fifth of the 100,000 blacks who had applied for educational benefits had registered in college. Furthermore, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) came under increased pressure as rising enrollments and strained resources forced them to turn away an estimated 20,000 veterans. HBCUs were already the poorest colleges and served, to most whites, only to keep blacks out of white colleges. HBCU resources were stretched even thinner when veterans’ demands necessitated a shift in the curriculum away from the traditional "preach and teach" course of study offered by the HBCUs. Banks and mortgage agencies refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.
Congress did not include merchant marine veterans in the original G.I. Bill, even though they are considered military personnel in times of war in accordance with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. As President Roosevelt (Democrat) signed the G.I. Bill in June 1944 he said: "I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country." Now that the youngest veterans are in their 80s, there are efforts to recognize their contributions by giving some benefits to the remaining survivors. In 2007, three different bills related to this issue were introduced in Congress, one of which passed the House of Representatives only.
After the GI Bill was instituted in the 1940s, several "fly-by-night" vocational schools arose. Subprime for-profit colleges still target vets, who are excluded from the 90-10 rule for federal funding. This loophole encourages for-profit colleges to target and aggressively recruit veterans and their families.  Legislative efforts to close the 90-10 loophole have failed.
All veteran education programs are found in law in Title 38 of the United States Code. Each specific program is found in its own Chapter in Title 38.
Unlike scholarship programs, the MGIB requires a financial commitment from the service member. However, if the benefit is not used, the service member cannot recoup whatever money was paid into the system.
In some states, the National Guard does offer true scholarship benefits, regardless of past or current MGIB participation.
In 1984, former Mississippi Democratic Congressman Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery revamped the G.I. Bill. From 1984 until 2008, this version of the law was called "The Montgomery G.I. Bill". The Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty (MGIB) states that active duty members forfeit $100 per month for 12 months; if they use the benefits, they receive as of 2012[update] $1564 monthly as a full-time student (tiered at lower rates for less-than-full-time) for a maximum of 36 months of education benefits. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses if the veteran is enrolled full-time. Part-time veteran students receive less, but for a proportionately longer period. This means for every month the veteran received benefits at the half-time, the veterans benefits are only charged for 1/2 of a month. Veterans from the reserve have different eligibility requirements and different rules on receiving benefits (see Ch. 1606, Ch. 1607 and Ch. 33). MGIB may also be used while active, which only reimburses the cost for tuition and fees. Each service has additional educational benefit programs for active duty members. Most delay using MGIB benefits until after separation, discharge or retirement.
The "Buy-Up" option, also known as the "kicker", allows active duty members to forfeit up to $600 more toward their MGIB. For every dollar the service member contributes, the federal government contributes $8. Those who forfeit the maximum ($600) will receive, upon approval, an additional $150 per month for 36 months, or a total of $5400. This allows the veteran to receive $4,800 in additional funds ($5400 total minus the $600 contribution to receive it), but not until after leaving active duty. The additional contribution must be made while still on active duty. It is available for G.I. Bill recipients using either Ch. 30 or Ch. 1607, but cannot be extended beyond 36 months if a combination of G.I. Bill programs are used.
MGIB benefits may be used up to 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty. The 10-year period can be extended by the amount of time a service member was prevented from training during that period because of a disability or because he/she was held by a foreign government or power.
The 10-year period can also be extended if one reenters active duty for 90 days or more after becoming eligible. The extension ends 10 years from the date of separation from the later period. Periods of active duty of fewer than 90 days qualify for extensions only if one was separated for one of the following:
For those eligible based on two years of active duty and four years in the Selected Reserve (also known as "call to service"), they have 10 years from their release from active duty, or 10 years from the completion of the four-year Selected Reserve obligation to use MGIB benefits.
At this time, service members cannot recoup any monies paid into the MGIB program should it not be utilized.
Service members may use GI bill in conjunction with Military Tuition Assistance (MilTA) to help with payments above the MilTA CAP. This will reduce the total benefit available once the member leaves service. Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-377, 4 January 2011), Section 111, amended Title 38, U.S. Code, by adding section 3322(h), "Bar to Duplication of Eligibility Based on a Single Event or Period of Service," which does not allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish eligibility for a Service Member under more than one education benefit. If a service member applies for Montgomery GI Bill benefits (such as the Top-up option to augment Tuition Assistance) and entered service on/after 1 August 2011, then they must incur a subsequent period of service to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If the service member cannot incur another period of service, they are not eligible to convert. The VA considers a service member has elected a GI Bill upon submission of VA Form 22-1990.and VA approval and issues a Certificate of Eligibility.
Under this bill, benefits may be used to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at a college or university, a cooperative training program, or an accredited independent study program leading to a degree.
"Chapter 31" is a vocational rehabilitation program that serves eligible active duty servicemembers and veterans with service-connected disabilities. This program promotes the development of suitable, gainful employment by providing vocational and personal adjustment counseling, training assistance, a monthly subsistence allowance during active training, and employment assistance after training. Independent living services may also be provided to advance vocational potential for eventual job seekers, or to enhance the independence of eligible participants who are presently unable to work.
In order to receive an evaluation for Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation and/or independent living services, those qualifying as a "servicemember" must have a memorandum service-connected disability rating of 20% or greater and apply for vocational rehabilitation services. Those qualifying as "veterans" must have received, or eventually receive, an honorable or other-than-dishonorable discharge, have a VA service-connected disability rating of 10% or more, and apply for services. Law provides for a 12-year basic period of eligibility in which services may be used, which begins on the latter of separation from active military duty or the date the veteran was first notified of a service-connected disability rating. In general, participants have 48 months of program entitlement to complete an individual vocational rehabilitation plan. Participants deemed to have a "serious employment handicap" will generally be granted exemption from the 12-year eligibility period and may receive additional months of entitlement as necessary to complete approved plans.
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is available for those who first entered active duty between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985, and elected to make contributions from their military pay to participate in this education benefit program. Participants' contributions are matched on a $2 for $1 basis by the Government. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses.
Congress, in the summer of 2008, approved an expansion of benefits beyond the current G.I. Bill program for military veterans serving since September 11, 2001, originally proposed by Democratic Senator Jim Webb. Beginning in August 2009, recipients became eligible for greatly expanded benefits, or the full cost of any public college in their state. The new bill also provides a housing allowance and $1,000 a year stipend for books, among other benefits.
The VA announced in September 2008 that it would manage the new benefit itself instead of hiring an outside contractor after protests by veteran's organizations and the American Federation of Government Employees. Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake stated that although it was "unfortunate that we will not have the technical expertise from the private sector," the VA "can and will deliver the benefits program on time."
President Obama Launches Post-9/11 GI Bill August 3, 2009 12:01
President Obama marks the launch of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which will provide comprehensive education benefits to our veterans. The bill will provide our veterans the skills and trainings they need to be successful in the future, and is part of the Presidents plan to build a new foundation for the 21st century. August 3, 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20161127024308/https://www.whitehouse.gov/video/President-Obama-Launches-Post-9/11-GI-Bill#transcript
In December 2010 Congress passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010. The new law, often referred to as G.I. Bill 2.0, expands eligibility for members of the National Guard to include time served on Title 32 or in the full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR). It does not, however, cover members of the Coast Guard Reserve who have served under Title 14 orders performing duties comparable to those performed by National Guard personnel under Title 32 orders.
The new law also includes:
enrollment periods. In this case if the veteran is full-time, and his or her maximum BAH rate is $1500 per month, then he or she will receive (13/30)x$1500 = $650 for the end of the first period of enrollment, then the veteran will receive (10/30)x$1500 = $500 for the beginning of the second period of enrollment. Effectively, the change in break-pay means the veteran will receive $1150 per month for August instead of $1500 per month. This have a significant impact in December - January BAH payments since most Colleges have 2-4 week breaks.
Another change enables active-duty servicemembers and their G.I. Bill-eligible spouses to receive the annual $1,000 book stipend (pro-rated for their rate of pursuit), adds several vocational, certification and OJT options, and removes the state-by-state tuition caps for veterans enrolled at publicly funded colleges and universities.
Changes to Ch. 33 also includes a new $17,500 annual cap on tuition and fees coverage for veterans attending Private Colleges and foreign colleges and universities.
The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program delivers education and training advantages to dependents from eligible resources to veterans who have either have a terminal illness due to a service-related condition, or who were called to active duty or had a disability related to serving in the American forces in the United States. That program gives around 50 months of education benefits. However, there are still more opportunities. The benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on the job training. Wives of veterans and former wives are offered free courses occasionally.
The Montgomery G.I. Bill — Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program may be available to members of the Selected Reserve, including all military branch reserve components as well as the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses.
The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) is available to all reservists who, after September 11, 2001, complete 90 days or more of active duty service "in support of contingency operations." This benefit provides reservists return from active duty with up to 80% of the active duty (Chapter 30) G.I. Bill benefits as long as they remain active participants in the reserves.
|Type||Active Duty MGIB Chapter 30||Active Duty Chap 30 Top-up||Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Chapter 33||Voc Rehab Chapter 31||VEAP Chapter 32||DEA Chapter 35||Selected Reserve Chapter 1606||Selected Reserve (REAP) Chapter 1607||Additional Benefits Tuition Assistance||Additional Benefits Student Loan Repayment Program|
|Time Limit (Eligibility)||10 yrs from last discharge from active duty.||While on active duty only.||15 yrs from last discharge from active duty.||12 yrs from discharge or notification of service-connected disability, whichever is later. In cases of "extreme disability", the 12-year timeline can be waived.||Entered service for the first time between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985; Opened a contribution account before April 1, 1987; Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2700||While in the Selected Reserve||
While in the Selected Reserve. If separated from Ready Reserve for disability which was not result of willful misconduct, for 10 yrs after date of entitlement.
|On the day one leaves the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.||On the day one leaves the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.|
|Months of Benefits (Full Time)||36 months||36 months||36 months||48 months||1 to 36 months depending on the number of monthly contributions||up to 45 months||36 months||36 months||Contingent as long as one serves as a drilling Reservist.||Contingent as long as one serves as a drilling Reservist.|
The State of California has an 85-15 rule that to prevent predatory for-profit colleges and "fly-by-night schools" from targeting veterans.
In 2012, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13607 to ensure that military service members, veterans, and their families would not be aggressively targeted by sub-prime colleges.
In 2017, the Trump Administration proposed to remove conflict of interest rules between VA officials and for-profit colleges.