What is the GI Promise?

Several people have asked me after last week’s post, “What exactly is the GI Promise that you referred to?” Let me explain it here.

In 1944, President Roosevelt signed what is regarded as one of the most significant pieces of legislation in history, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, more commonly known as the GI Bill. It had several provisions, including a provision that helped pay for education. In 1947, nearly half of all incoming students to U.S. colleges were veterans. The bill was reinstated in 1984, and in 2008 it was updated again. The latest GI bill is known as the Post 9/11 Act, and among other things it covers in-state tuition costs for qualified veterans, and the ability to transfer these benefits to spouses or their children.

The Post 9/11 Act covers only in-state tuition, so in July of 2008 Governor Strickland issued an Executive Order creating the GI Promise, which relaxed the residency requirements for any veteran that qualified for the Post 9/11 benefits. This in essence allows a veteran or his or her family members to attend any college in Ohio with no tuition assessed, depending on the qualified benefits from the Post 9/11 Act. The GI Promise has several other provisions that impact veterans that choose to go to college in the state. They are considered residents for purposes of qualifying for other state financial aid programs, such as OCOG or OIG grants; certain military experience and training can be converted to equivalent courses, and credit for the courses must be awarded by the college they attend; every college in the state is designated as a Servicemembers Opportunity College, and becomes part of a consortium of over 1900 colleges in the nation that provides certain programming, support and guarantees for veterans and active duty service members; it establishes a GI Promise Council, which is charged with ensuring that all schools in Ohio have the resources and support services to make the GI Promise work.

One feature of the SOC membership (and the GI Promise) is that the colleges must award credit for nationally recognized testing programs, such as DSST (Dantes Subject Standardized Tests) and CLEP (College Level Examination Program). The Ohio Board of Regents is considering a directive that will require all schools, including Ohio State, to convert CLEP exams to equivalent course credit, consistent across every college’s offerings. Another feature will require that every college, including Ohio State, establish appropriate offices and support services on campus for enrolled veterans.

One media report indicated that over 1300 veterans and their families moved to Ohio to take advantage of the GI Promise benefits last spring. Most attend community colleges across the state, but many have joined the nearly 1200 veterans that are enrolled here at Ohio State.

The GI Promise is a fabulous program that attracts veterans to our state. Officials at the state level hope that they will stay after graduation, and contribute to the state’s workforce and economy. It poses several challenges for each college in the state, but our hope is that it will help boost the success of military veterans here at OSU, and help provide an environment on campus that is accepting and supportive of this student population.

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