A scare went across campus about the new G.I. Bill for veterans as the newest mandate has changed some things for veteran students. The immediate shock was that the government was not paying for veterans to learn to fly at Embry-Riddle anymore. The G.I. Bill was created to help soldiers go back to school. Established after World War II, the soldiers were returned home from the Pacific and European theaters having put their education on hold. This Bill helped get them into the higher level of education they gave up when they went to war. There have been many changes since the 40s, but the idea has stayed predominantly the same. After 9-11, a veteran needed to have 36 months of active duty to receive 100% of the G.I. Bill. However, the latest version in 2011, changed the format for veterans learning to fly.
The G.I. Bill gave a veteran $18,000 for an academic year. Embry-Riddle like many schools is a yellow banner school. This signifies that the school will cover half the remaining costs the veterans need leaving them only to pay the final quarter of what is needed. This covered 36 months of schooling with no wiggle room. This money can be applied to any degree at Embry-Riddle, but the pilots benefited the most, but this is where the bill changed in 2011.
When the new revisions were announced, Congress, in their infinite wisdom, did not explain everything in detail only bits and pieces. The main change was that schools like Embry-Riddle, known for its aeronautics, were not going to be getting any money for veteran pilots. “This put a lot of veterans up in arms,” Dan Lupin from the Financial Aid Office said, “This was going to leave our veterans here on campus high and dry.”
After a lot of paperwork was done, over 100 Embry-Riddle veterans went to Washington D.C. to lobby against this new G.I. Bill. It worked! The veterans who lobbied had already started their courses at Embry-Riddle and were therefore grandfathered into the program. This allowed many veterans to take a breather knowing that they did not have to go find several thousand dollars to finish the program. However, but it was those incoming veterans that had to fear not getting funding for a Aeronautics degree.
“Congress has changed what is going on with the G.I. Bill,” Lupin said, “Instead of helping schools with already established flight programs they have turned it to community colleges.” Lupin is right as community colleges across the country have begun to institute flight programs. The idea is not intelligent at all because when the money was going to schools like Embry-Riddle there was a cap of $18,000, but now at community colleges there is no cap. “From a taxpayer’s perspective it’s very bad that there is no cap now,” Lupin said, “But those that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve it more than we can even imagine.”
The G.I. Bill has helped millions of veterans across this great nation. This bill is to help them ease back into the society they left when they signed up to fight. “Embry-Riddle is not cheap,” Lupin said, “but the veterans know that this is the place to get an education from when it comes to flying and willing to go the little further to get what they want.”