A New Deal for GIs
Fordham initiative educates and serves post-9/11 service members
FordhamVets aims to provide both financial assistance and campus-based services. The launch of the initiative coincides with a federal expansion of benefits for veterans. Last year, Congress passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect on August 1, 2009. The Department of Veterans Affairs calls it the most comprehensive education benefit package since the original GI Bill became law in 1944.
The maximum benefit under the new bill covers the cost of tuition and fees up to the level of the highest in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution. The bill also provides a monthly housing allowance and a yearly stipend of up to $1,000 for books and supplies. Additionally, there is the new Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows universities to enter agreements with the VA to cover tuition expenses that exceed what is covered under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The school can fund up to 50 percent of those extra expenses, and the VA will match the amount.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, was among the first university presidents to commit to full participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Combined with federal benefits, Fordham’s commitment will cover all tuition and fees for veterans in the VA’s 100 percent eligibility category—that is, those who have served at least 36 months of active duty after September 11, 2001, or have been honorably discharged from active duty for a service related disability and served 30 continuous days after 9/11.
The initiative is consistent with Fordham’s long tradition of supporting veterans and recognizing the sacrifices made
by its alumni, who have served their nation in every major conflict since the Civil War. That spirit of service and commitment at the University is evident to veterans returning from post-9/11 conflicts.
Eric Claude Jones, a five-year veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is the first veteran to enroll in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences under the Yellow Ribbon Program. A reserve soldier in the New York State National Guard, he is currently earning his master’s degree in computer sciences.
The Yellow Ribbon Program enabled him and other returning veterans to transition more seamlessly back into civilian life, he said.
“When soldiers return directly from deployment, it’s often difficult to integrate into normal life,” said Jones, who served extended rotations of 15 months in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “The Yellow Ribbon Program certainly eases the burden of returning solders to get back on track.
“It makes it much easier to start heading forward with civilian life.”
For more information about FordhamVets,