A Brief History of Veterans’ Education Benefits and Their Value

Source: David P. Smole and Shannon S. Loane, Congressional Research Service, RL34549, July 3, 2008

Federal educational assistance programs have been authorized for veterans of the Armed Forces since 1944. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (P.L. 78346), or the GI Bill of Rights, provided support, including education benefits, to veterans of World War II. Subsequently, other programs were implemented for similar purposes (e.g., the Korean GI Bill and the Vietnam Era GI Bill). These new programs were primarily, if not exclusively, funded by the federal government and were intended to support veterans returning from war.

This report reviews the evolution of veterans’ education benefit programs prior to the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. It also examines how changes in the estimated value of those benefits compares with changes in average college prices, and provides a discussion of the interaction between veterans’ education benefits and federal student aid benefits made available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended.

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