GI Bill may receive sizable boost

By Tom Philpott: CNJ Columnist

The Bush administration has endorsed a House bill that would improve the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) education benefits in several ways including with a 31 percent jump in monthly benefits and a new $500-a-month stipend to help cover college living expenses.

The administration’s aim is not only to improve veterans’ benefits in wartime but to derail a far more costly GI Bill reform package that Virginia Democrat Jim Webb, in just his second year as a senator, is shepherding toward likely enactment with tenacity and timely compromises.

No matter who wins this showdown, current and future GI Bill users are almost assured that their benefits will be more valuable by next year.

Webb’s bill, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S 22), would be available to any active or reserve member who served at least three months on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. Maximum benefits would cover tuition costs up to an amount equal to tuition payments at a state’s most expensive public university.