BURLINGTON, June 30 - A new GI Bill cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that will expand education benefits for a new generation of veterans was signed into law today.
"This is a major step forward for our veterans," Sanders said. "It means that any soldier who served since 9/11 will be able to get a college education regardless of his or her income. Tuition, room and board are paid for. It's similar to what happened after World War II.
"This is significant not only for our veterans but for our economy because we need the best-educated workforce possible," added Sanders, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The legislation provides $63 billion over 10 years for increased college aid for military service members and veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001. The benefit of up to $90,000 - more than twice the current level of assistance - will cover a full four-year college education in most cases.
It will provide full in-state tuition and fees for enrollment in a public college along with a monthly housing stipend and $1,000 per year for books and supplies.
The funding can also be used by those veterans attending private colleges and universities.
People who serve three years are eligible for the full benefit. Those with shorter enlistments would receive between 40 percent and 90 percent of the benefit. In addition, the benefits could be transferred to a service member's spouse or children.
Unlike the GI benefits that transformed American society after World War II, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have discovered that current GI benefits cover only half the national average cost for tuition, room and board.
The strengthened veterans' benefits were included in legislation the Senate passed last Thursday by a vote of 92 to 6.