Expanded GI Bill Funds Readied for Distribution

July 31, 2009

The largest educational-benefits payments in the 65-year history of the GI Bill will start flowing on Monday from the Treasury Department to more than 100,000 collegebound veterans.

The expanded GI Bill, signed into law last year by President George W. Bush, pays for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to attend in-state public colleges at no cost to them. They can also apply the funds toward the cost of an out-of-state or private college. About 130,000 veterans have applied for the new benefits, up from 87,000 a month ago.

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has approved about 112,000 of the applications, estimate that 200,000 veterans will attend college in the fall under the new benefits.

The department has also reached 3,532 agreements with 1,176 colleges under the Yellow Ribbon Program, through which the federal government matches any financial aid that participating colleges pledge to veterans above the base educational benefits in the new GI Bill.

The program is designed to help veterans pay the cost of attending out-of-state and private colleges or graduate schools.

President Obama, along with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki and Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat of Virginia and sponsor of the bill, will meet at George Mason University on Monday to mark the day that the first of the expanded-benefits checks are sent out to veterans nationwide.