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Education benefits expanding for military veterans

| Thursday, July 16, 2009

Qualifying veterans will be able to attend any of 89 Pennsylvania colleges, universities and education centers tuition-free beginning in 2009-10, White House officials announced this week.

The federal Yellow Ribbon Program augments a GI Bill that Congress passed last year by covering for any veteran the additional cost of a private or graduate school.

It also expands free tuition at public schools to out-of-state veterans.

To qualify for the program, vets must have served at least 36 months on active duty, or served at least 30 continuous days and been discharged due to a service-related injury.

Larry Tomei, an associate provost at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, said his school wants as many veterans as it can get enrolled.

"We're not putting any restrictions on the number of vets," Tomei said.

The school and federal government will split the costs of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

"Implementing this landmark legislation and providing even more veterans with a quality education is a top priority for the VA," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement.

The program provides assistance beyond the cost of the most expensive credit hour at a public institution - $700 last year for the nursing program at The Pennsylvania State university.

This year's amount won't be set until state lawmakers pass a new budget.

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