Provide all military members and veterans with student loan repayment.

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Americans assume that the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI bill cover all education costs for veterans and current military members. What they don’t understand is that there are shortfalls in the educational programs. These bills do not cover educational debt that was accrued prior to military service.

The Montgomery GI Bill benefits vary depending on type and length of military service, as well as type of education that is pursued. An Active Duty service member who has served at least 3 years is entitled to 36 months of educational benefits at a price tag of $1,994.00 per month for a traditional bachelor’s degree. That is a grand total of $71,784 if the full 36 months is used.

The post 9/11 GI Bill benefits also vary depending on type and length of service, as well as type of education that is pursued. An Active Duty service member who has served at least 3 years is entitled to 100% of tuition and fees as an in-state student at a Public University. At a Private or Foreign university, the benefit is up to $24,476.79.

According to US News, the average cost of tuition at a public university for 2019-2020 is $10,116 per year while the average cost at a private university per year is $36,801. Not including housing, fees, meals, and any other educational costs, a service member who joined the military after obtaining a degree could be over $150,000 in debt.

According to the Air Force, only career fields that are indicated as critical shortages are able to apply for student loan repayment programs. Even then, the program will never pay out more than $20,000 for student loan repayment.

The Army and Navy will pay up to $65,000 of service members’ student loans, but again only specially indicated career fields apply for this program.

Through the Montgomery GI Bill, each military branch will cover $71,784 of service members’ educational costs. Through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, each military branch will cover 100% of the tuition and fees at public universities and up to $24,476.79 at private universities. This is over $100,000 that the Department of Defense will spend on a service member or veteran who has served at least 3 years on Active Duty, yet they will only offer on occasion up to $65,000 in student loan repayment if the service member commits to a critically short career field. This is thousands of dollars that is made available to non-prior service degree service members, but this same money is unavailable to prior degree earning service members. The Department of Defense is failing these service members. Why should our current service members and veterans who earned degrees prior to serving our country be penalized and starved of over $100,000 in educational benefits?

Please make student loan repayment programs available to every service member and veteran that has volunteered to lay their life on the line and serve our country with honor.