New GI Bill Coming Aug. 1 at TAMIU

Expanded GI Bill Opens
Opportunities at TAMIU

The “21st Century GI Bill” will go into effect Aug. 1, 2009, signaling new opportunities for higher education for veterans, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) officials said.

TAMIU dean of Student Success Dr. Minita Ramírez said that in the past those using GI Bill benefits often found their choices for higher education limited.

“The expanded GI Bill now makes possible tuition and fees at all Texas public universities, offering twice the amount of money than the previous GI Bill and will encourage more veterans to come to the University to begin or finish their degrees,” Dr. Ramírez said.

On average, TAMIU sees about 80 students who receive veteran’s benefits enroll each long semester. That number is sure to grow, officials noted.

“History shows that the first GI Bill helped encourage nearly 8 million returning service members to better themselves through higher education, changing our nation and enlarging the middle class measurably. Here in Laredo, entire family futures changed with the GI Bill. While this expanded Bill will impact a smaller number, estimated at 450,000, the doubling of benefits opens up all of higher education at all levels, with the potential to change lives again,” Ramírez said.

In addition to tuition and fees, the Bill, approved by Congress last June, also pays a monthly cost of living stipend and provides assistance for books. Fees are paid upfront to the University of choice and there is no required buy-in by the veteran.

To qualify, veterans must have served 36 months of active duty after Sept. 11, 2001. Those serving less get a reduced portion of benefits. Veterans have up to 15 years to use the benefits and can transfer unused benefits to family members.

Specifically regarding benefit transferability, the Department of Defense (DoD) allows those who, on or after Aug. 1, 2009, have served at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve at least another four years in the Armed Forces to transfer unused entitlement to their spouse. Once the member has reached their 10-year anniversary, they may choose to transfer benefit to any dependent(s) (spouse, children). Additional eligibility requirements and limits to transferability may be imposed by the DoD.

At TAMIU, based on current tuition and fees for full-time students (12-hour course load), qualified veterans receiving 100 percent of benefit pay could expect up to $2,248.50 for tuition, and up to $500 for books. Those enrolling for two semesters could receive a combined total of $5,497 for tuition and books. In addition, the GI Bill provides a monthly housing allowance factored to the University area. Costs will be adjusted when the program begins August 2009 to reflect 2009 fees and housing costs.

Download the Fall 2009 fees here or on the Office of the Comptroller Web site.

TAMIU has formed a Veterans Student Task Force and has dedicated a special Web site that provides full information on Veterans Benefits at TAMIU, including helpful links and contacts at tamiu.edu/affairs/registrar/veterans

Returning service members can also visit the TAMIU Office of the Registrar, located in Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library room 168, or call 956.326.2254

Registrar summer hours are from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Fridays.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu