When the Government ended educational benefits for persons entering the Armed Forces after January 31, 1955, it brought to a close one of the most successful methods devised for extending college training to a larger portion of the population. Federal aid to veterans has by now become accepted as a just return for service during a national emergency--an emergency that still exists and that still demands a G.I. Bill of Rights.
Since many persons had enlisted with the understanding that they would receive educational aid on discharge, it was obviously right for Congress to overrule President Eisenhower's executive order of January 1, which would have ended the accumulation of credits for the G.I. Bill on January 31. As the law now stands, anyone who entered the service by January 31 will receive one and a half days of schooling for every day of service, up to a maximum of thirty-six months of study. The monthly allowances for a full time student vary: $110 for a veteran with no dependents, $135 with one dependent, and $160 with more than one dependent.
These benefits should extend to all those who enter the Armed Forces during the present emergency, for although there is no actual fighting at the moment, few could deny that servicemen run a very real risk of entering a combat area some time in the future. In line with the danger involved, it is significant that Eisenhower accepted Congress' objections to his own order only after the Straits of Formosa had again become a cruising area for the Seventh Fleet. The crises and lulls in the world situation should not be a gauge for on-again, off-again educational rights. Surely, until the cold war has cooled enough to make two years of service no longer necessary for all able men, there is little reason to cut off a program that has been so successful.
The G.I. Bill has extended educational opportunities with federal money without exerting the pressure so often feared. It has made no distinction between public and private institutions, for a veteran can use his monthly check at the University of Wisconsin as well as at Harvard. Nor has the Bill hurt non-veterans, for universities are completely free to apply their own uniform standards of admission.
Some day, of course, the Government will have to face the question of broad federal scholarship aid. But the problem will not arise until many more Americans expect free college education. Until such a time or until the world situation cases considerably, the Government should continue to reward veterans with educational rights.