GI Bill brings payday: VA pushes students to cash in on benefits



Education is a large incentive for many young Americans to join the military. Now, The Veterans Administration is pushing to help soldiers cash in on their tuition checks.

The GI Bill Advertising campaign is a national push for post 9/11 veterans to apply and receive their benefits under the updates to the act, which include educational expenses, a living allowance, money for books and the ability to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children.

Officially titled The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the GI Bill was the responsibility of the VA to carry out key provisions: education and training, loan guaranty for homes, farms or businesses and unemployment pay for veterans.

Anthony Dotson, director of the Veterans Resource Center at UK, said roughly 350 student veterans attend UK, many of them with Iraq or Afghanistan experience. With the passing of the new bill, he said there has been a sharp increase rate in usage up from only 45 percent.

“This is due primarily to two big changes in the bill — No. 1, it is more robust — paying a housing allowance in addition to tuition and books. No. 2, it is transferrable to a spouse or child,” Dotson said.

The VA is planning radio and television ads, online networking and posters around college campuses to encourage veterans to cash in on their benefits. As of Feb. 12, the VA received spring semester Post-9/11 GI Bill enrollments from approximately 180,000 student veterans and paid nearly 90 percent of students.

The post 9/11 updates have been the most significant changes to the bill since World War II, Dotson said. Getting student veterans to apply for their benefits is the first step toward completing a cycle that benefits everyone, he said.

“Many colleges and universities grew substantially, UK included, thanks to the monies from the GI Bill,” Dotson said. “Education is a leading incentive for joining the military, so this bill assists our veterans in reaching that goal.

“The more education one has the more opportunities they have, the more earning potential, the more impact on their community and society as a whole.”

Information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as VA’s other educational benefit programs, is available at VA’s Web site ( or by calling 1-888-GIBILL-1.

Dotson said currently UK has three organizations aimed at assisting veterans: The Veterans Resource Center, the UK Military Veterans of America and Honoring our Military Everywhere.