New GI Bill a boon to colleges and the nation

Published 10:33 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

America experienced a time of great growth and prosperity following the end of World War II. Thousands of veterans coming home from the Pacific and Europe went to college, earned degrees and then began careers.

As a result of the well-educated workforce, companies grew, and in turn earnings also increased.

Families were started, children were born and houses were built.

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While it was not the sole reason for this period of growth, the GI bill, which gave returning veterans a chance to go to college, was a major player.

More than 60 years later, a revised GI bill is going into effect, and the results of that bill are now being seen locally at area community colleges.

Tidewater Community College announced this week a 25-percent increase in fall enrollment and college president Deborah DiCroce credits a large percentage of that increase to the new GI bill.

“More than 1,000 individuals enrolling are directly tied to the new GI bill,” DiCroce said in a News-Herald interview Wednesday. “That, I think, is a driver. That bill allows both the veteran to use the benefit or for the veteran to transfer the benefit to a dependent, whether that is a spouse or a child. We’re seeing that a lot.”

DiCroce credits a number of other factors, including a slower economy and a Presidential endorsement of community colleges, but greater availability of education, whether it be from a scholarship, grant or GI bill, means more people will be able to extend their education.

It has been clear for many years, now, that a college education means a better job, better earnings and the opportunity for more opportunities in life.

The passage of the new GI bill has given a new generation of American warriors its greatest opportunity to expand their education and prepare for lives outside the military.

When we hear of college enrollment increasing, for whatever reason, it is a sign of good times ahead.