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Op-Ed Digest: Drawbacks To New GI Bill Temper Student Support

This story was written by Staff reports,

Student newspaper editorial boards across the nation have expressed mixed opinions on Virginia Senator Jim Webbs proposed $51 billion GI Bill, which was passed Thursday by the Senate as part of a $165 billion Iraq war funding measure.

The legislation heads to the House, which has already overwhelmingly shown support for the bills expansion of military education benefits.

President Bush has threatened to veto the measure, citing the high domestic price tag and the potential the benefits could entice soldiers to leave the service after only three years putting additional strain on an already stretched military force.

Though student newspaper editorial boards hail additional support for veterans, some question if this bill is the best way to express the nations gratitude. Below is a diverse selection of the editorials.

Related coverageUWIRE details how the GI Bill affects students across the nation

The 21st Century GI Bill battleSource | Indiana Daily StudentOn paper, it looks like an exceptional deal. A feat of bipartisan cooperation conceived out of deep concern for Americas returning veterans, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, sponsored by Jim Webb, D-Va., was recently passed by the House and is headed to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.

But the military, initially expected by most to support the measure, is quickly forming an opposition. The main failure of the bill, critics argue, is that it will place an enormous strain on an already thinly stretched force, as those who have served their 36 months might take off to pursue their degree. While recruiting would be improved because of the benefits, retention would likely plummet, and the cost of training new recruits would be significant.

Some even suspect that this bill is an underhanded attempt to end the war in Iraq by overextending the militarys budget to the point where it cannot continue to fight overseas.

While almost everyone agrees that we as Americans are forever indebted to our veterans and that they are certainly deserving of generous benefits, a bill that does this at the cost of bringing our military to its knees is simply not worthwhile. Regardless of opinion on our countrys current military engagements, bleeding the armed forces to death in the name of veteran benefits is not the way to solve the debate. Read more.

Returning troops should get what they bargained for: a college educationSource | Daily CalifornianGoing back on your word may be considered a faux pas. And while President Bush isn't completely reneging on national policy that has been in place for nearly half a century, his unwillingness to expand it will do more than turn up a few looks of disdain.

Starting with World War II, veterans could look forward to a free college education thanks to the G.I. Bill. But some who currently served in Iraq and Afghanistan may not receive the same benefit as those who served in Korea and Vietnam-a move that calls into question just how much appreciation our troops receive today.

The House of Representatives passed legislation this month that would expand funding for the G.I. Bill, specifically to pay four-year public university fees for those who have served at least three years since Sept. 11, 2001. It's a reward the patriotic men and women who had signed up to fight on behalf of the United States undoubtedly deserve.

Instead, Bush is threatening to veto the bill, which would place him in an odd paradox: a very pro-war president who has consistently given the green light for measures to further the effort suddenly skimps on a key benefit for soldiers. Read more.

Suport the troops with a new GI BillSource | Minnesota DailyAmericans in the World War II-era have been called the greatest generation. Today, politicians have called Iraq War soldiers the new greatest generation. President George W. Bush, though he avoided service in the Vietnam War, even said he envied American soldiers their romantic combat experience today.

If these soldiers are the new greatest generation, then they should be given the same opportunities as the soldiers who came before them in World War II.

Veterans of the second world war had the GI Bill, which completely subsidized a soldiers education. The government paid college tuition and fees, bought textbooks and provided a monthly stipend for 8 million of the 16 million who served in return for their sacrifice.

But as the U.S. military became a volunteer service and relative peace gave way, the GI Bill was reduced to the Montgomery GI Bill, which requires a service member to pay $100 a month for the first year of his or her enlistment in order to receive a flat payment for college that averages $800 a month. This meager stipend is not enough to cover even half of the costs associated with education at most state colleges.Read more.

Veterans deserve all aid possible for GI BillSource | Daily BruinThe House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would raise taxes for the wealthy to increase funding for a new GI Bill.

The extra funding would allow people who joined the armed forces since Sept. 11, 2001, and have been honorably discharged to receive a free four-year college education at a public institution. This is obviously an important and welcome addition to the GI Bill. The men and women who voluntarily joined the armed services after Sept. 11 deserve compensation for their bravery, and any measure Congress can pass to do so should be supported.

But this board wonders whether or not it is a good idea to focus on improving the new GI Bill without first improving other vital services offered to veterans. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will likely need medical and psychological attention before they need a college degree, and it should fall to the public and Congress to provide those transitional services to the best capacity they can.Read more.

Congress must update GI Bill to serve todays veteransSource | Daily PennsylvanianAs Ben Franklin once said, an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

That was the idea behind the original GI Bill. Enacted in 1944, the legislation covered tuition and other expenses for veterans going to college.

Over the past 50 years however, Congress has scaled back the program to provide a flat payment. According to the Boston Globe, most veterans can currently only receive a maximum of $9,600 per year for four years of education.

Thats a problem, considering that the cost of college - both public and private - has skyrocketed. Average prices for public four-year colleges, including room and board, currently hover around $12,000, while average prices for private colleges are well over $30,000. Read more.