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Press Release

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Announces Boots to Books Web Site
~ Launches campaign to help veterans pursue higher education degrees ~

www.FLBootsToBooks.org

TALLAHASSEE – Today, Governor Charlie Crist joined together in partnership with the Florida Board of Governors, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Florida community colleges and private universities at the Capitol to launch a new statewide campaign, Boots to Books. With the passing of the New GI Bill, or Post 9/11 GI Bill, federal resources are now available to help veterans meet their educational and career goals. Information on the new benefits is available to veterans at www.FLBootsToBooks.org.

“Florida has a long-time reputation as a military friendly state, and I am committed to keeping Florida as veteran friendly as possible,” said Governor Crist. “To that end, the Florida Boots to Books initiative welcomes returning veterans to Florida’s institutions of higher learning and helps them meet their educational goals as they grow their careers and care for their families.”

Veterans with three years of active service qualify to receive the full benefits for up to 36 months, including full tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and $1,000 a year for books and supplies. Partial benefits are also available to veterans who have been:

  • Deployed for 90 days in the Armed Forces since 9/11.
  • Discharged due to service connected disabilities.
  • Currently enrolled in the Montgomery GI Bill and meet the Post 9/11 GI Bill criteria. These applicants can transfer from receiving the current benefits to the new program.
  • Officers who graduated from a service academy or received ROTC scholarships.

Applicants must also meet the admission requirements of the college or university they plan to attend.

The new GI Bill is expected to provide more than $62 billion in assistance nationwide when it takes effect August 1, 2009. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is currently accepting applications. Currently, 160,000 service members declare Florida as their home state, while more than 17,000 veterans are presently enrolled in Florida’s higher education system. Boots to Books will ensure they have the resources available to pursue their educational and career goals when they return to their friends and families in Florida.

The goal of Boots to Books is to help Florida’s veterans attend college and ensure that the necessary information and resources are easily available to them. The www.FLBootsToBooks.org Web site will offer up-to-date and current information, including details of the GI Bill, instructions on how to apply, information on Florida’s community colleges and public and private universities, links to veterans group Web sites, and more, all in a user friendly format.

Several special guests joined Governor Crist for the announcement, including retired Navy Reserve Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr., executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Dr. Willis Holcombe, chancellor of Florida Community Colleges; Ed Moore, director of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida; Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of Florida International University; and Brigadier General James Tyre, chief of staff for the Florida National Guard.

Also attending the announcement were several advocates for student veterans. Dr. Stanley Marshall, former president of Florida State University and current Board of Governors member, is a veteran who attended college on the original GI Bill. Chris Young, an Army veteran who served in Central America, currently attends Florida State University and is the vice president of FSU’s Collegiate Veteran’s Association. Stacey Causey is married to a student veteran and is a leader in state and national efforts to network returning student veterans.