May 10, 2008, Lisle, IL – To thank the U.S. military, Benedictine University will offer Illinois veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq a free education through its First Responder program, officials said Friday.
The Lisle university is the first in the country to do so.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama secured a $750,000 federal grant for the first year of the program. Starting this fall, that money will go toward extension of the program.
University President William Carroll said that even if the university does not receive federal grants after its first year, the program will continue long-term.
“We will keep this program going no matter what because it is the right thing to do,” Carroll said.
For the last seven years, Benedictine University has offered a free college education to Illinois firefighters and police officers. The university has about 400 participants.
Benedictine is extending that program to veterans.
When the GI Bill was created in 1944, it covered 100 percent of a vet’s higher education. Now, it doesn’t come close to covering college .
Currently, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are eligible for up to $1,101 a month — or $39,636 over four years — under the GI Bill. But the average four-year public college costs more than $65,000; a private university, more than $130,000.