New GI Bill Pays Out Big in Some States, Zilch in Others

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2009 5:15 PM CDT
In this Jan. 28, 2008 file photo, students walk on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. In the economic stimulus package working its way through Congress, parents with children in college,...   (AP Photo/Tony Ding, File)
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(Newser) – The new GI bill going into effect Aug. 1 is the biggest expansion of the program since World War II, but the benefits are far from uniform, the AP reports. The new system determines the money a vet gets for college on a state-by-state basis. Full tuition is guaranteed at public schools, but the maximum benefit is pegged to the state's highest public school price. So if the state has kept public education costs low, that means less money for a student bound for a private school.

That provision translates to almost comically large disparities. In New Hampshire, a vet can get $25,000 a year to go to Dartmouth plus a grant from the college. In California, where the constitution mandates free public tuition, Uncle Sam will dole out nary a dime if a returning service member wants to go to, say, Stanford. “We all fought for our country,” a vet says. “It just seems unfair.” The VA says “it is a valid question,” but the decision was Congress’ to make.