SLU in the Media: Discussing the New GI Bill®

August 14, 2009

SLU in the Media: Discussing the New GI Bill?? Larry Kraus, an adult student and a sergeant with the Florida Highway Patrol, and Gary Bracken, vice president for enrollment, recently appeared on a popular Tampa Bay television news program to describe the benefits of the new-Post 9/11 GI Bill®. The two were interviewed Tuesday, August 11, during a live, 30-minute panel discussion show called “Your Turn with Kathy Fountain,' which airs on WTVT-Fox 13, weekdays, at 12:30 p.m. The entire show was devoted to the topic of the new GI Bill®, and viewers were able to call and e-mail in questions.

The new GI Bill® was passed by Congress to improve the educational assistance the country provides to veterans and service members. It improves the allowance for tuition and provides a book stipend, in addition to providing a housing allowance for many recipients. The tuition benefits can be applied to online courses. In some cases, service members may be able to transfer tuition benefits to a family member.

Kraus is a Navy veteran earning his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Saint Leo, and wants eventually to serve as a Navy lawyer. He has used benefits under the old GI Bill®, and is still reviewing how the provisions of the new bill may assist him in his plans. Overall, he is an enthusiastic supporter of the new bill because of the benefits it will bring military service members and veterans, particularly those in law enforcement. Earning a degree improves an officer’s chances for advancement, he told the viewing audience.

Kraus and Bracken were joined on the panel by Dave DeBatto, an area veterans activist.

Because the Veterans Administration is currently so busy with a rush of applications for the new program, all three panelists advised prospective students in the viewing audience to consult with veteran representatives at the college or university of their choice for guidance.

Saint Leo expects to attract an influx of new student because of the benefits of the bill, and because of the convenient teaching options SLU has developed over three decades of serving military students and veterans. Bracken noted that Saint Leo offers degree programs online, at teaching locations on or near military bases, and at its main campus in Pasco County, which participates in the “Yellow Ribbon' program. Under the “Yellow Ribbon' program, institutions are partnering with the VA to provide enough added student financial assistance to bridge any gap between private-school tuition and the basic tuition benefits provided by the bill, which are set according to tuition rates at publicly funded state institutions. This way, military students and veterans will be able to attend the private or public institutions of their choosing and attain the degrees they desire. SLU’s teaching locations serving military bases already offer military students and veterans highly competitive tuition rates, covered by the new benefits.

Pictured above: From left to right, Show host Kathy Fountain; veterans activist Dave DeBatto; Saint Leo University Vice President for Enrollment Gary Bracken; and SLU student and Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Kraus.