Money for College…Maybe

Here’s something kids who are thinking of about joining the military should take into consideration. Recruiters will attempt to woo you with, among other things, money for college. (That, of course, is provided you don’t get shipped off to Iraq, and that you come back alive if you do get sent there.) But one anti-war organization, after doing some research, is saying that money for college isn’t always forthcoming.

The advertisements blare: Join the military and receive $70,000 for college! This bonus program, known as the Montgomery GI Bill – Army/Navy College Fund, is in reality, according to an August 27, 2004 press release from the US Army Recruiting Command, only available to those who qualify with high test scores, sign up for what the military deems "critical" military specialties (critical usually means hardest to fill and least desirable), and enlist for at least six years of active military duty. Approximately 95% of those who enter the military are not eligible for this maximum amount.

In fact, 57% of the veterans who signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) have never seen a penny in college assistance, and the average net payout to veterans has been only $2151. Primarily, the low average net is the result of the many military personnel who the Department of Defense (DoD) declares ineligible, and of the challenges faced by veterans trying to access the promised money even if they are eligible.

According to this report, about 57% of eligible veterans have received funds. Aside from eligibility, there are a lot of other qualificaitons that can keep you from receiving it once you’ve completed the required number of years in service.

Just something to think about before you sign away the next few years of your life, or perhaps even the rest of it.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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One Response to Money for College…Maybe

  1. Kim says:

    Hi, Terrence —

    I’ve been reading your blog for some months now, though I’ve never commented before, and have actually caught a few posts of yours over at Feministe before I became a regular reader. This entry is what finally compelled me to stop being shy and start opening my long-winded mouth. (And I am regrettably long-winded. I apologize in advance!)

    Trust me, the hoops are very tight-fitting and many in number when it comes time for people in the Armed Forces to get the college money they were promised. My husband is a Staff Sgt. in the Army National Guard, 19 years total in the service, 9 of which were active duty military. About three years ago, he decided to get out of his civilian career (electronic technician) because his field was continuing to suffer through a pretty bad slump, and jobs were scarce. Our son was a year old at the time and we were barely making ends meet, so we figured, “What the hell do we have left to lose?” and off to the local community technical college he went.

    He filed all of the right paperwork, handed it all in on time with his Education Officer (the man who holds the purse-strings,) and had a very successful first semester. And then the bill came in. Instead of being 100% covered by the money he had earned from his time in the Army, we were stuck with a full semester’s worth of education bills and with no money from the gov’t. At all. When questioned, Macintosh College said that the Education Officer hadn’t filed the right papers in time. The Education Officer said the same of Macintosh. Nobody would budge an inch and admit they screwed up, and in the end, the Education Officer told him that somehow “these bills no longer qualified for inclusion for coverage under the GI Bill.” We wound up paying the college ourselves, slowly, and my husband never did finish his degree. He -did-, however, wind up being deployed at the local Air Guard base for two years doing guard duty to supplement their depleted personnel. What a great way to say “Thanks” for all those years of service, hmm?

    A lot of our friends who’re also prior-service have other, worse, stories about being out-and-out denied funds for college, despite earning them and being qualified for them via the Montgomery GI Bill. It’s such a sham, and it pisses me off so badly, I want to scream.

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