An Anniversary Worth Remembering-the GI Bill
Sixty five years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 — better known as the GI Bill. It’s been heralded as one of the most important pieces of legislation to ever come out of Washington. This single measure alone helped build the middle class for which post World War II America was renowned. It did it by puting a college education and home ownership within reach of millions of veterans returning home after the war.
The original legislation gave $500 in annual tuition for four years of education and training to GIs and guaranteed 50 percent of home, farm and business loans — up to $2,000 — at an interest rate no higher than 4 percent. That led to an explosion of the college educated population. For example, In the peak year of 1947, about half of the two million students on university or college campuses were veterans. And the nation as a whole gained immensely from having so many well educated and knowledgeable citizens.In addition, four million veterans took advantage of the home loan benefits.
Unfortunately, the GI Bill benefits received by veterans who served in the less popular Korean and Vietnam wars were much less generous. But the “new” GI Bill, which takes effect August 1 for post 9/11 veterans offers greater opportunities.
If you would like to read more about this fascinating episode in American history, there is a new book out by Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin called “The GI Bill: A New Deal for Veterans.” For more information, go to