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State GI Bills- Go Wisconsin!

March 29, 2010
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First things first, this blog post is brought to you by my uber-cool, super smart best friend Beth. She passed this article my way and I just had to post it for y’all. So say it with me, Thanks Beth!!!

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Did you know that the state of Wisconsin has its own GI Bill? Yep. It is a separate program from both federal programs (Montgomery and Post 9/11). How fabulous is that? I (admittedly) haven’t done a TON of research, but I think WI is one of a very few states that have such a program . Which is awesomesacue. Go ‘Sconnie! (Pleeeaaaase correct me in the comments if you are aware of other programs- I’d love to give those states a shout-out too!)

The official state line is this:

The Wisconsin G.I. Bill provides a full waiver (“remission”) of tuition and fees for eligible veterans and their dependents for up to 8 full-time semesters or 128 credits at any University of Wisconsin System (UWS) or Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) institution for continuing education, or for study at the undergraduate or graduate level.

But… the bad news is that in last year’s budget, our Reps voted to (in effect) disallow this program by mandating Vets use the federal GI Bill (Post 9/11 type) and preventing them from “doubling” up on benefits. Bummer. Word is the move was a measure, among many, to cut the state budget and shamefully, it passed. HOWEVER, this year? They are making amends. There is currently a bill in the state Legislature that would reopen this state benefit to all Veterans.

The best things is that, if a Vet in the state of Wisconsin was a) motivated and b) street-wise, they could stand to get a Bachelors (or Associates, etc) degree PLUS 2-4 years of post-Bacheloriate education. That is a Master’s degree, folks. That could even be a PhD degree. Or a Professional Certificate program. FOR FREE. (Color me envious because that stuff is Eeeeexspensive!) In total, it would be 16 semesters of schooling paid for. Awesomesacue. Talk about the cherry on top of the Post 9/11 GI Bill cupcake.

In my mind, this is HUGE. And I, for one, am super proud to be from a state that puts this much pride, hope and trust in the potential of their Veterans. Beth and I have discussed numerous times that there have been a ton of studies showing that Vets are (on average) much more productive with the degrees they get post service in the armed forces (if I can get some citations for this, I will). I am so impressed that Wisconsin recognizes this and is willing to pony up the money (which is still a contentious issue) to help our Vets take advantage of the myriad of educational opportunities and degrees out there. Hooray!

And, as Swiss and I are finding out, a Bachelor’s doesn’t always assure you a good paying job in your field of choice. In many, many fields advanced degrees are the norm, the standard and the expectation. This program allows our Vets to go on and get these additional degrees without worry of financial burdens and tuition bills… and more importantly get the appropriate degrees necessary to hit the ground running after their time in service. I can’t say enough how fabulous this is… give non-traditional students like our Vets a leg up is time and money well spent, not to mention a more than appropriate way to say Thank You for your service. So HOORAY WISCONSIN!

Now, let’s get this bill passed! And here’s another idea: Talk to you state Reps and see what you and your fellow MilFolk can do to get a program like this implemented in your state. THAT would be something to be proud of!

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