Benedictine to begin offering Illinois veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan free education
May 19, 2008
Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
They fight insurgents and build schools in Iraq and Afghanistan, but today’s veterans face an even greater battle at home – affording a decent college education.
The original G.I. Bill – the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – covered full tuition at public or private schools, books, fees and a living stipend. But while college costs skyrocketed, the G.I. Bill did not keep pace. Today, it provides only limited assistance for veterans seeking to pursue a college education.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who sign up for the G.I. Bill are eligible for $1,101 per month – or $39,636 over four years – in educational benefits. However, the College Board reports that the average four-year public college costs more than $65,000 while a private university costs more than $130,000.
This disparity discourages many veterans from utilizing their benefits. While nearly 80 percent of active-duty troops sign up for benefits, less than 10 percent of eligible veterans use their full benefit during the 10-year limit following their discharge. Some 30 percent of veterans never tap into their G.I. Bill funds at all.
Benedictine University has decided to do something to help Illinois veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get a college education.
Thanks to a $750,000 grant from the federal government secured by U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), beginning in Fall 2008 the University will extend its First Responder Program to Illinois Armed Forces veterans – active and reserve – returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“By extending the First Responder Program to veterans, these brave men and women will have access to an education they might not otherwise be able to afford,” Benedictine University President William J. Carroll said. “The lives of many veterans their families will be positively changed, and the opportunity for a better future greatly increased.”
Benedictine’s First Responders Program is an unparalleled educational degree program that seeks to provide Illinois police and fire personnel access to affordable and quality higher education. There are no tuition costs. Police and fire personnel pay only for their textbooks and fees.
Currently, 63 public service organizations are represented by the more than 400 first responders enrolled in the program. Among the organizations participating in the program are: Cook County Sheriff, DuPage County Sheriff, Illinois State Police, and police and fire departments from Addison to Wheaton.
Illinois veterans who participate in this program will be able to pursue an Associate of Arts in Business Administration (A.A.B.A.) or a Bachelor of Arts in Management (B.A.M.) degree.
By extending these benefits to Illinois veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Benedictine University will provide them with a college education that will enhance their employment opportunities. The program will also ease the financial burden many of them would otherwise face while earning a degree, particularly those veterans with families.
“It is fitting that our nation provides support and continuing education for our service members who risk their lives in defense of our nation,” Sen. Obama said. “I am proud to have played a small part in finding support for this important program.”
Benedictine University will also extend half-tuition benefits to members of reserve units who are not deployed, to prepare them educationally prior to deployment, and extend half-tuition benefits to college-aged children of reservists who are deployed while participating in the program.
For more information about the First Responder Program at Benedictine University, contact Tanesha Pittman, Associate Dean of the First Responder and Professional Development programs, at (630) 829-6125 or (630) 327-1537.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education
recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes
magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business
as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.