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Published: Thursday, 7/3/2008

Benefits of new GI bill outlined to area veterans

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) met yesterday with veterans and politicians who can help inform Iraq War veterans about new benefits available under the recently passed 21st Century G.I. Educational Benefits Law, also known as the G.I. Bill.

"This legislation will help more Ohio veterans pay for college," Mr. Brown said at the Veterans Service Center in downtown Toledo. "It's a critical investment in a new generation of heroes."

The previous G.I. Bill, first passed in 1944, provided $40,000 in benefits. The new version, signed by President Bush, more than doubles the benefit to $90,000 and allows the benefit to be passed to family members in some cases.

The legislation is expected to cost $63 billion over the next 10 years for increased college aid to veterans serving after Sept. 11, 2001.

Tuition benefits will be indexed to the most expensive in-state public school where the veteran is enrolled. The increased aid would provide full in-state tuition and fees for enrollment in a public college, a monthly housing stipend, and $1,000 per year for books and supplies.

Veterans who serve three years would receive the full benefit while those serving less than three would receive between 40 and 90 percent. The 21st Century G.I. bill also would provide more equitable benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve, Mr. Brown said.

State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), who was in the Air Force 1975-1978, received benefits under the G.I. Bill. She urged those in attendance to remind veterans of the benefits. Tuition assistance can help former service members become teachers, engineers, and doctors, she said.

Wesley Waggoner, 24, of Perrysburg Township, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, said G.I. Bill benefits will help him earn a criminal justice degree at Owens Community College.

"I have to have that degree and the G.I. Bill is what helps me accomplish that," he said.

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