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Tampa Tribune: The GI Bill, a Yellow Ribbon and helping our troops adjust to the workforce

Monday, August 29, 2011

As our troops return home as a result of the proposed winding down of our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, they must be wondering what might be in store for them. Many of our service men and women joined the military directly out of high school and have not had the chance to pursue a college degree. There are boundless opportunities for them in Florida, as well as many sources of financial support for the costs associated with pursuing post-secondary educations.

Programs like the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP) and the revised GI Bill provide necessary funding to help our veterans pursue new opportunities in education.

The YRP is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, a policy that administers education benefits for those who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001. When tuition costs and fees exceed the funds provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon assists eligible veterans in avoiding additional out-of-pocket expenses. They have served our country, and now our country can assist them in entering a changed lifestyle.

Higher educational institutions elect to participate in the YRP and determine the funds they will make available to eligible veterans so they can have access to valuable degree programs. Florida needs this valuable talent source for our economic development.

The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is a statewide association of 29 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities, and a significant number of our member institutions participate in YRP, including the University of Tampa, Eckerd College and Saint Leo University.

Members of our armed forces make incredible sacrifices, and it is important that our lawmakers and education community continue to create avenues that will promote access to learning opportunities for them. It is imperative they have the chance to get the education that will help them excel in a competitive work force.

Ed Moore is president and CEO of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

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