Tuition Goose Egg for California Veterans

California veterans attending one of California’s 277 private colleges will be surprised to learn that they will receive $0 toward their tuition next year under the Post 9/11 GI bill, while veterans at other heavily populated states like Texas and New York can attend almost any private school for free because they will receive $1,330 and $970/credit respectfully.

What does this mean?

If a veteran is attending a private college where a bulk of their education costs is considered tuition, then a veteran will be stuck with a hefty tuition bill that the Post 9/11 GI bill was supposed to help cover.  The VA will argue that since veterans in California are entitled $6,586/term in fees that veterans shouldn’t worry. Tell that to the thousands of veterans who will be surprised to find out that they will only receive about $500/yr toward their tuition and fees, because fees can only be spent on fees.  Take the following schools for example.

Name

Vets

Tuition Charged

Fees Charged

Bill to Vet (CA)

Bill To Vet (TX)

National University

1068

$9,720

$0

$9,720

$0

Chapman University

588

$31,700

$908

$31,700

$0

ITT Technical Institute-San Diego

291

$15,300

$300

$15,300

$0

University of Southern California

179

$35,212

$597

$35,212

$0

University of San Diego

108

$32,300

$264

$32,300

$0

Pepperdine University

60

$34,580

$120

$34,580

$0

University of the Pacific

35

$28,480

$500

$28,480

$0

Stanford University

29

$34,800

$289

$34,800

$0

While a veteran attending any of the schools above will only receive about $500/yr.  toward their education, compare that to a veteran attending a California public school who will receive nearly $9,000/yr. Thousands of veterans attending private school in California are being unfairly penalized by the VA’s peculiar interpretation of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

How did this happen?

The  Post  9/11  GI  Bill  requires  the  VA  to  set  tuition/fee  caps  based  on  the  single most  expensive public school program  in each state. But the VA has decided to set each cap by combining the most expensive tuition from one program and the most expensive fees from another – even if no veteran could feasibly enroll in both of these programs simultaneously. As a result, each state cap has no relation to the actual cost of attending public school in that state. 

California is the perfect example of why this system doesn’t work. The stark zero in the tuition column is so conspicuous that the VA included a red colored footnote that reads, “California public colleges and universities do not charge resident undergraduate tuition.” If the VA had not made a distinction between tuition and fees or just found the single most expensive program in the state and made that school the cap, California veterans attending private school would have received nearly $10,000 more per year. Veterans choosing to attend Stanford or USC will now owe an additional $40,000 than intended under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.