While media policy wonks remained riveted on the "fiscal cliff" debate last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill making it easier for veterans to navigate the maze of college financial aid. This should enable even more veterans to take advantage of GI Bill benefits that they earned while serving their country.
Veterans have been earning degrees at faster rates since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan in 2001. The percentage of veterans with a bachelors degree rose from just under 15 percent to 16.3 percent by 2009, which is actually a large number of individuals. Veterans lagged behind the population at large in terms of holding a bachelors degree. However, they earn advanced degrees at higher rates than the non veteran population.
As National Public Radio reports, many veterans still miss out on college due to special problems they face. According to Ryan Galluci, deputy legislative director with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, only 58 percent of veterans understood that they could receive college education benefits. The information is out there, but veterans and college administrators often do not know where to seek. The puzzle pieces happen to be held by different departments of the federal government. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education both offer different types information that veterans need to get their benefits. Typical of Big Government bureaucrats, they are reluctant to share resources.
Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida sponsored a bill that would help create "one stop shopping" for veterans looking to go to college. H.R. 4057, if signed by the president, will create a clearinghouse of information to help veterans get all the educational benefits that they earned. The bill had been helped through the House Committee on Veterans Affairs last summer by fiscal conservative Representative David McKinley of West Virginia as part of an overall package of legislation designed to help those returning from the war.
Meanwhile, most of the colleges and universities considered "elite" missed the list of "Best For Vets: Colleges 2013." Military Times ranked schools according to how effectively they work with veterans' unique experiences and concerns. These include relaxed residency requirements, conversion of military experience to college credit, and other innovations. Of the traditional elite liberal schools, only the University of California at Berkeley made the list, and then only at 57.
Eastern Kentucky University gave the most support to veterans looking to go to college.
With the Left's stranglehold over American higher education, the rise in veteran attendance and advanced degrees is encouraging. College campuses suffer from a lack of diverse voices. Inclusion of more veterans will create a more meaningful exchange of ideas in the academic world.