Up & Coming Weekly

September 24, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 25-OCTOBER 1, 2019 UCW 9 e number of people using the Post-9/11 GI Bill has fallen substan- tially for each of the past two fiscal years, federal data indicates. About 54,000 fewer people used the GI Bill in fiscal 2017 and 2018, a 7% decline both years, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Offi- cials of veteran service organizations, and some of the schools that enroll the greatest numbers of GI Bill users, said they're not overly concerned about the falling GI Bill usage — at least not yet. Fayetteville Technical Community College has been ranked No. 2 by Military Times in its "Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges." Schools like FTCC, which have put the most thought and effort into tailor- ing programs and policies around veterans' unique experiences, have experienced growth. Experts offered several possible ex- planations for declining enrollments, including more vets earning degrees, GI Bill rules that could be discourag- ing vets from using the benefit and the strong national economy. Mean- while, public universities continued to account for most GI Bill students. "A lot more of the public and the not- for-profit private schools are offering distance education now," said James Schmeling, executive vice president of Student Veterans of America. For years, the for-profit University of Phoenix has enrolled more GI Bill users than any other institution, but it has seen plummeting GI Bill enroll- ment recently. In fiscal year 2018, the school shed more than 5,940 Post- 9/11 GI Bill students — about 21% — dropping to 22,428 such students. e school declined to answer questions about its falling GI Bill enrollment. e recent overall drops in GI Bill usage in fiscal 2018, among all univer- sities, mirror a similar trend affecting military tuition assistance, which saw usage rates decline 6% from fis- cal 2016 to 2017 and then go down another 2.5% from fiscal 2017 to 2018. e 7% declines charted in fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 were calculated by adding all schools' GI Bill populations and comparing year-on-year changes. Veterans Affairs did not respond to interview requests to discuss declin- ing GI Bill usage. In addition to enrollment losses, the amount of money spent on GI Bill benefits decreased by nearly $287 mil- lion in fiscal 2018 to about $4.6 billion, a 5.9% drop. Officials offered a variety of theo- ries to explain the falling numbers. "A reduction in beneficiaries may indicate more veterans successfully complete degrees and are moving into the workforce," said John Aldrich, a vice president at the country's fourth most popular GI Bill school, American Mili- tary University, a for-profit institution. Another possible explanation Al- drich offered is that students may be turning away from the GI Bill because it shrinks their housing stipends if they attend school entirely online. e Forever GI Bill, signed into law in August 2017, allowed anyone who left the military after January 2013 to use the GI Bill at any time in the future. Previously, all benefits had to be used within 15 years of separation. In addition, officials pointed to a com- mon higher education trend: More people go to college to improve their job prospects in bad economies, while fewer go to school when the economy is strong. GI Bill usage falling by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS In addition to enrollment losses, the amount of money spent on GI Bill benefits decreased by nearly $287 million in fiscal 2018 to about $4.6 billion, a 5.9% drop. presents WorldWide Wellness LLC & Shakespeare for sure, a delicious dinner mixed with a few hearty toasts, period games, improv, lively music and lots and lots of humor! Bold and irreverent with notes of tragedy balanced only by uproarious hilarity for ADULT audiences. HamLIT Tickets $75 available online w/senior & military discounts 7PM Performance Doors open 6PM for Preshow Reception Friday • Sept 27 • 2019 Saturday • Sept 28 • 2019 at Gates Four Golf & Country Club 6775 Irongate Dr, Fayetteville, NC 28306 For reservations or more information: www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com 910-391-3859 HamLIT "... a smash(ed) hit and guaranteed good time for local theatergoers." T i c k e t s N O W o n s a l e w w w. f a y e t t e v i l l e d i n n e r t h e a t r e . c o m Very Special anks: Paul Mitchell the School, Healy Whsl., Rocket Fizz, UPS Store and Gates Four Golf & Country Club Featuring the Sweet Tea Shakespeare Company

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