Welcoming our heroes to Florida education institutions
On June 30, 2008, President Bush signed the largest GI Benefit legislation since WWII.
The new legislation will provide monumental benefits and expansion of educational assistance to military veterans beginning in August of 2009. This is particularly important for Florida since a large portion of the veterans who will be eligible claim our state as their official residence. Currently more than 17,000 veterans are already enrolled in a Florida post-secondary educational institution.
In an effort to create a seamless transition from the battlefield to the classroom, the Board of Governors has been asked by the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs to assist with preparing a plan for the smooth transition and prompt dissemination of accurate information to the soldiers and their families as of August 2009. We are joining in partnership with the Executive Office of the Governor, Florida’s Community Colleges, Florida’s independent schools and Florida’s private colleges and universities. Later this year the partnership will also include various agencies such as the departments of Children and Families, Community Affairs and the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Though many services will be available through federal funding, focus groups have given us information that by providing additional support through a not-for-profit foundation we will have the means for involving public support and providing book or technology scholarships, assistance for children’s learning and other benefits. Such a foundation would also allow the public, including older veterans and their families to take part in supporting in a meaningful way this effort to honor and provide for those who have given so much for our country. This foundation would also be able to fill a wide gap left between the federal legislation and the need to create awareness about the program prior to August 2009.
Our initiative will be the first of its kind in the nation and will hopefully serve as a blueprint for other states.
What the legislation provides
The new GI Bill is also referred to as the “Post 9/11 GI Bill.” It will provide eligible veterans with:
- full tuition and fees (capped at the highest public university rate)
- new monthly housing stipend and
- $1,000 a year stipend for books and supplies
Reserve and National Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 are also eligible for GI Bill benefits.