If you’ve been to boot camp recently there’s a good chance you’ve handed Uncle Sam a hefty chunk of change — $1,200 to be exact, and that’s for a set of education benefits you could have gotten for free. To date, more than 100,000 people have enrolled in the Montgomery GI Bill across the armed services, requiring a $100 monthly buy-in for a recruits’ first year of service.
This week’s Marine Corps Times examines an issue that first came to our attention in July when a Marine contacted the newspaper with questions about how each boot camp informs recruits about education benefits. That story revealed nearly everyone who attended boot camp at San Diego this year was paying into the older and more expensive benefit program, while those on the East Coast opted for the free Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill requires no contribution from troops and provides a far more generous benefits package than the Montgomery GI Bill including the full cost of tuition and fees at all public schools, a monthly housing stipend and an annual text book allowance. The Montgomery GI bill offers neither.
We wanted to know how the Marine Corps squared up against the other services and whether recruits from across the branches are getting ripped off within their first few days of joining the military. With the exception of Parris Island, every other training location is signing recruits up for the Montgomery GI Bill despite obvious advantages in the newer plan.
This week’s cover story, available now on Marine Corps Times Prime, explores why recruits are being automatically enrolled in an older plan — and, perhaps most importantly, what Marines need to do to avoid a deduction in their paycheck and how to get a refund. (Note: It’s not easy.)
Also in this week’s issue: Marine officials are conducting a comprehensive review of the boot camp core curriculum. Maj. Gen. Tom Murray, the head of Training and Education Command, told Marine Corps Times last week what will be discussed as part of that effort. Hint: Officials are contemplating changes to recruit training’s academic and physical syllabus.
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