Going to War and Going to College: Veterans’ Administration

During the legislative process, one of the primary questions was whether the program would be administered by the Office of Education or the Veterans’ Administration. In the end, the program was set to be administered by the Veterans’ Administration and the only restriction on educational choice was that students enroll at an institution accredited by the state education agency. This latter provision helped to allay concerns that the G.I. Bill would lead to federal intervention in the content offerings of post-secondary institutions while also opening the door for a range of vocational, technical and apprenticeship programs.
The provisions of the G.I. Bill passed in 1944 provided for a monthly stipend of $50 for single veterans and $75 for married veterans, as well as the payment of tuition, books and supplies up to $500. All veterans serving 90 days with a record of honorable discharge were eligible for one year of educational benefits, with veterans receiving educational benefits matching years of service 1:1 up to a maximum of four years of benefit eligibility. Veterans over age 25 at the time they began service were initially required to demonstrate that their education had been interrupted or impeded by the war. The initial restriction limiting veterans over age 25 to one year of schooling was dropped in amendments to the G.I. Bill passed in December of 1945.
In December of 1945, less than six months after the formal cessation of hostilities, the G.I. Bill was amended to increase the length of the period over which a veteran could initiate and complete education, eliminate restrictions on educational benefits for older veterans, and increase the level of monthly stipend to $65 for single veterans and to $90 for veterans with dependents. Analysts suggest that the 1945 amendment signaled a shift in the intent of veterans’ education policy from a program designed to ease the transition of returning veterans to a program providing explicit rewards for veterans service (Olson, 1974, p. 38). The nominal stipend levels were raised again in April of 1948 to $75 for single veterans, $105 for married veterans, and $120 for veterans with children.