Wicker Supports Legislation to Strengthen G.I. Benefits

Bill Supports State’s Guard and Reserve Members Who Have Served in Iraq and Afghanistan

May 1, 2008

WASHINGTON – Saying an increase in G.I. benefits is needed, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is an original cosponsor of legislation that enhances the existing Montgomery G.I. Bill by improving education benefits for service members, veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve.

The Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention, and Readjustment through Education Act will help more military personnel attend college debt-free, and allow them to transfer their education benefits to their spouse or children.  It also bolsters recruitment and retention efforts, encouraging service members to continue their military careers.  The bill was introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). 

“As someone who had the honor of serving with Sonny Montgomery, I am glad to support this bill as a way to strengthen Montgomery G.I. benefits for our service members,” Sen. Wicker said.  “This legislation would improve education benefits and, for the first time, allow members of the military to transfer those benefits to their spouse or children.  By increasing G.I. benefits, we also will strengthen our military's recruitment and retention efforts and attract those who want to make a career out of serving their country.”  

The legislation provides:

Fairness to Mississippi Veterans:

  • Ensures Mississippi veterans will receive the same education benefits as veterans in other states, rather than basing the benefits on the average tuition costs in each state.  

Increased Education Benefits:

  • Increases the education benefits provided by the Montgomery GI Bill from $1,100 to $1,500 per month, beginning in October 2008, to cover the average cost of a 4-year public college, including room, board, tuition, and fees. Provides $500 per year for books and supplies.
  • Increases benefits to $2,000 per month by 2011 for members who serve on active duty for 12 years or more.
  • Significantly increases benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves.
  • Increases the education benefit for Guard and Reserve members called to active duty since September 11, 2001, from $880 to $1,200 beginning in October 2008.
  • Increases benefits for those members of the Guard and Reserves who serve in the Selected Reserve for 12 years or more and who continue serving in the Selected Reserve to $1,600 per month by 2011.
  • Increases the education benefits for other members of the Guard and Reserves from $317 to $634.

Benefits for Family Members:

  • Allows active military, Guard and Reserves the ability to transfer education benefits to spouses or children.
  • After at least six years of service, a member would be able to transfer up to half of his or her education benefits to a spouse, children, or both.
  • Allows a service member to transfer all of his or her education benefits to a spouse, children, or both after serving for 12 years or more. This could provide up to $72,000 toward a dependent’s education.