Boosted GI Bill to start

RENO -- State education officials expect to see more veterans attend colleges and universities in Nevada in the coming years thanks to the new GI Bill that goes into effect Aug. 1.

The government's best-known education program for veterans will get the biggest boost since being created during World War II.

"We anticipate the new GI Bill will increase the number of veterans attending our institutions and that will have an impact on those universities and community colleges on providing an education to them," said Jane Nichols, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The only downside is that Nevada veterans will receive a lower amount than their counterparts in other states: a maximum of about $136 per tuition credit hour up to $2,766 per semester.

That compares with a maximum of up to $419 per credit hour in Colorado, for example, where veterans can qualify for up to $43,035 per semester. The disparity is the result of Nevada's relatively low tuition rates, officials said.

Johann Sprenger, veterans services coordinator at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he's received two to three applications for the fall semester every week since April, as veterans apply online directly or with assistance from Veterans Affairs officials.

He expects a rush of applicants after Aug. 1.

In addition, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows private colleges to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Veterans Administration to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate.

The institution can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses and the VA will match the same amount as the institution.

Active Guard members also continue to benefit from a state law passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2003 that allows them to attend any college or university in the state tuition-free.

A separate Patriot Fund helps pay for books and other fees, Guard spokeswoman Capt. April Conway said.

About 535 Guard members are using that state program, said Maj. Renea Greenlee, education director for the Nevada Guard.


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