For years now, military veterans studying under the GI Bill have studiously avoided degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) because there’s simply not enough money to make it happen. The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers 36 months of tuition, but education to earn a degree in a STEM field typically takes longer than that, especially for veterans who have to worry about their families along with their education.
That’s now changing.
SB 153 Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act Becomes Law
The most recent change is the signing of SB 153. On February 11, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law. One of the key points of the bill is that it allows veterans to be eligible for some National Science Foundation (NSF) programs. The NSF will in turn “…encourage veterans to study and pursue careers in STEM and computer science in coordination with other federal agencies that serve veterans, and submit a plan to Congress for enhancing veterans outreach.”
The bill will also make certain scholarships, fellowships, masters programs and grants available to veterans pursuing degrees in the STEM field.
The bill is just another way the U.S. government is trying to make degrees in STEM fields more accessible to veterans without the financial burden that often comes with spending extra time in college to pursue those degrees.
Forever GI Bill
The federal government is also doing what it can to make sure that veterans are aware of the programs already in existence. In 2018, the Forever GI Bill was created in part to help extend GI Bill benefits to veterans pursuing degrees in STEM fields.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a full breakdown of all the adjustments under the Forever GI Bill here, but one of the highlights is that qualifying veterans can apply for up to nine months more of tuition coverage.
They can do that through the Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship. Students who have used up most or all of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits can apply for up to nine months of additional tuition or $30,000. The scholarship is designed for veterans pursuing an undergraduate STEM degree or graduates with a STEM degree who are now pursuing a teaching degree.
There are also some nonprofits specifically designed to help veterans with the transition from military life back to education. Groups like the Student Veterans of America offer advice for military members continuing education as well as local support groups.