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"Join the military and go to college." That's what the recruiters say.
But the deal that today's servicemen and servicewomen get is a far cry from what their fathers and grandfathers got. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law in the waning days of World War II, he saw it as part of his New Deal program. The law, officially called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, promised returning veterans that the government would pay the full cost of tuition and books at any public or private college or job-training program. It also provided unemployment insurance and loans to buy homes and start businesses.
By contrast, the current Montgomery GI Bill, passed in 1984, asks active duty members to accept a pay reduction of $100 per month through twelve months of military service. When they return to school, they receive $1,100 monthly for a maximum of three years of education benefits. It's an amount that doesn't come close to covering the cost of a modern college education, but it does help some veterans--if they can get through the red tape.