News | Student Life

Congress approves legislation to safeguard veterans' tuition

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that will afford Columbia student veterans the tuition benefits they were promised when they enrolled.

The Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act was passed by the Senate in May and passed by the House this afternoon in a 424-0 vote.

Concerns arose last week over whether students who had enrolled last spring would be included in the amended legislation, which specified a cutoff enrollment date of Jan. 4, 2011. That prompted the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University to organize a last-minute phone call and e-mail campaign to cover students who had been accepted to universities by Jan. 4.

"It's an all-inclusive bill now," said Dan Lagana, GS and MilVets member.

Columbia has the largest veterans population in the Ivy League, with about 300 enrolled.

The MilVets have been lobbying for such a grandfather clause ever since "GI Bill 2.0" was passed in December, capping tuition benefits for veterans at $17,500. This would have forced Columbia veterans, who had matriculated with the promise of full financial aid and stipends, to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 out of their own pockets.

"Last week and over this weekend, we really had to increase pressure to make sure that we didn't get sidelined again," said Marco Reininger, GS and currently a legislative fellow and spokesman at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "Hundreds of phone calls, hundreds of emails, it was a really massive push."

The MilVets said they are mostly satisfied with the outcome. According to House Committee on Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Amy Mitchell, the Department of Veterans Affairs will interpret the legislation as such: As long as a veteran applied, was accepted, or was enrolled prior to Jan. 4, the old benefits will apply.

Mitchell said she was happy to hear of the large and active veterans population at Columbia.

"Make sure to tell all the students at Columbia 'thank you'," Mitchell said, "and make sure they graduate!"

news@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

Glad to see that new legislation was passed to help currently enrolled vets get their promised education. However, I predict the Vets' presence on campus will return to pre Post 9/11 GI Bill days because GS fin aid is a joke. It's ironic because GS was originally established to educate Vets.

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Anonymous posted on

The joke is that Columbia has long been the most friendly ivy toward vets and adults with the establishment of the school of General studies. No other top ranked schools has anything close to this.

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Anonymous posted on

You might want to check your facts. Before the new GI Bill, there were more vets at Cornell than CU. Biggest difference? Cornell vets got a great fin aid package. Dont fall for the GS company line. GS will admit anyone who can pay out of pocket, hence the 600% increase in veteran enrollment after the new GI Bill. If GS was so vet friendly then where was the fin aid and friendliness before the new GI Bill? The stats will speak for themselves when veteran enrollment drops like a rock to pre Post 9/11 GI Bill times. Don't kid yourself.

DISClAIMER: This is by no means an implication that veterans can not compete academically with "regular" students. My statement has to do solely with admission stats.

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Anonymous posted on

Yes, GS is significantly easier to gain acceptance than to the other schools. Cornell has more vets because its undergraduate school is five times the size of Columbia's. Cornell also has many "land grant" or state school divisions with very low (state school equivalent) tuitions, so is much more affordable.

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Anonymous posted on

Coincidentally, at the same time the Columbia University Administration is apparently collecting a lot of "tuition benefits" money at its School of General Studies from the U.S. government's Department of Veterans Affairs (instead of just rolling back tuition for all Columbia University students to pre-1990 levels, for example), the Columbia Administration also is apparently now collaborating with the U.S. Navy in order to begin training professional military officers for the U.S. war machine on its campus during the 2011-2012 academic year. For some historical background on how U.S. anti-war students have historically protested against U.S. university administration profiteering from and collaboration with the U.S. military-industrial-complex, Spectator readers might be interested in checking out the article that was recently posted at the following rag blog link:
http://theragblog.blogspot.com...

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Anonymous posted on

Oh, get over yourself, you Communist. Sometimes it's not a global conspiracy, stupid.

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