Currently, veterans across the United States, including more than a thousand in Upstate New York, are at risk of losing college tuition benefits promised to them under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, passed in 2008.
According to Sen. Charles Schumer, under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans are eligible for full tuition benefits at public institutions in the state which they are attending school, or they can receive up to that same benefit amount if attending a private institution.
As a result of what Schumer calls "a little-known 2010 law," however, tuition benefits for veterans, including those enrolled prior to 2010, will be capped at $17,500, nationwide, in the upcoming academic year- a cut to veterans' benefits that Schumer believes could lead to veterans not finishing their programs, or dropping out altogether.
Schumer said that in total, veterans affected by the 2010 law who are attending schools in Western New York, total 198 - their average tuition cost being $22,594 - leaving them with more than $5,000 per year they would need to make up to continue studying at their respective colleges and universities. Veterans affected by the 2010 law attending schools in the Southern Tier, total 92, with an average tuition cost of $32,413, resulting in nearly $8,000 per year they would need to make up.
Currently, the maximum benefit a veteran can receive in tuition in New York state is $25,250, far more than the $17,500 prescribed by 2010's law, which would go into effect Aug. 2011.
Schumer's position is not that a nationwide cap is a bad thing, however, as it would make veterans' benefit packages much more equitable from state to state, but rather that changing the rules for veterans who already enrolled in the program prior to 2010's amendments, is a bad thing.
"This is not a time to change the rules on our veterans mid-stream," Schumer said, and with that in mind, Schumer announced this Wednesday legislation that would allow veterans enrolled in colleges and universities before revisions were made to the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2010, to keep the benefits promised to them throughout their collegiate career.
"This legislation ensures (veterans) the benefits they've built their budgets around will still be there come this August, when next school year begins."