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Education, better jobs within reach for veterans, thanks to new bill

Aly J. YaleThe Mortgage Reports Contributor

Forever GI Bill paves way for veteran success

Thanks to a new bill signed by President Trump in August, veterans may have a better shot at employment soon. The Forever GI Bill, which helps veterans secure education and training for reliable, high-paying jobs, was passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What the bill will do

The Forever GI Bill alters the previous GI Bill, which set a 15-year expiration date on when veterans could reap educational benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill will now allow veterans to use VA funds toward education for life.

GI Bill benefits, among other things, can pay for full or partial tuition (depending on the school), housing costs, books, supplies and more. Housing stipends will also increase under the bill.

The new bill will also extend benefits to more veterans. Reservists, Purple Heart recipients and those whose service was cut short due to injury will all be eligible.

For short-term service members, there will be a sliding scale of benefit eligibility depending on length of service. Military members with 90 to under six months of active duty service will be eligible for 50 percent benefits. Those with six months to 18 months will get 60 percent benefits.

STEM education

Veterans seeking degrees in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math, will have an extra, fully covered year to complete their education. They will also be eligible for up to $30,000 in scholarships.

According to Jeffrey J. Cleland, manager of research policy at the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, this push for more STEM education will help the economy at large.

“The cost of the effort, $3.5 billion, will look daunting to some Americans,” Cleland said. “But STEM degrees will pay off tenfold for veterans, expand the workforce in these dynamic parts of the economy, and lead to greater productivity for the country as a whole.”

The STEM scholarships will be available to both veterans and surviving family members of deceased service members.

Changes are coming

The changes made by the Forever GI Bill could have sweeping impacts on the many unemployed and underemployed military veterans in our country and help bolster the American economy at large. The bill is scheduled to go into effect in August 2020.