G.I. Bill Gives Back to Soldiers Returning from WWII

In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the new Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, otherwise known as the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill created sweeping new benefits for millions of veterans returning from WWII. Those benefits included money for education, job training, low-interest home loans, and unemployment benefits. Within its first seven years, about 8 million veterans took advantage of these benefits. The G.I. Bill led to a jump in university and college enrollment, a housing boom, and helped usher in an era of prosperity.

President Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill: Press and Sun-Bulletin June 23, 1944

During the war, government officials realized that when the war eventually ended, 16 million men and women serving in the armed forces would return home unemployed. That level of unemployment had the potential to create financial instability within the country and could lead to an economic depression. In a bipartisan effort led by the American Legion, planning got underway for new legislation that could help returning veterans and benefit the economy. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was passed by Congress in January 1944 and signed by President Roosevelt the following June.

The Tampa Times: October 11, 1945

One of the landmark provisions of the G.I. Bill was funding for education. Before the war, a college education was out of reach for the average American. The G.I. Bill, however, flung the doors to universities and vocational schools wide open with benefits that covered tuition, books, supplies, and offered a living stipend. A college education was now within reach and many veterans took advantage of the opportunity. Educational funding had the added benefit of preventing too many veterans from flooding the job market all at once. In 1947, nearly half of those admitted to college were veterans, and between 1940-1950, the number of college and university degrees earned doubled.

Another popular benefit offered through the G.I. Bill was low-interest home loans. The VA Home Loan benefit granted 4.3 million low-interest, zero down payment home loans between 1945-1955. Veterans starting families snapped up the home loans and moved to the suburbs. New neighborhoods sprang up in mass-produced subdivisions all around the country and veterans became the largest single group of homeowners.

Berwyn Life: December 17, 1944

The building boom helped usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity and growth for the middle class. Homeownership “cemented the stability of millions of veterans’ families,” fueled job growth, and added substantially to personal income and consumer demand. WWII rations and shortages gave way to abundance and prosperity that helped shaped the country for decades.

Other benefits offered through the G.I. Bill included unemployment benefits, money to start a business, additional veterans hospitals, and veteran job counseling and employment services.

The original G.I. Bill ended in 1956, though it was extended several times. More recently, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and the Forever G.I. Bill have passed to help veterans.

Did someone in your family benefit from the G.I. Bill? Share your stories in the comments below and search Newspapers.com to learn more about the 1944 G.I. Bill.

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46 thoughts on “G.I. Bill Gives Back to Soldiers Returning from WWII

  1. Both my parents benefitted. However African Americans did not and I think that part of the story needs to be told.

    • Thank you, Diana. Your brief reply has inspired me to further research this chasm in equality.

    • I agree. The Redlining issues of the 1940’s prevented equitable treatment and availability of true benefits.

      • I am so with you Diana, since my father and his father served in the army and were Wrights from the south..We will never get our pay..since many left the south and they recieved no land, no money no nothing..

    • This is true. My father fought in WWII and as an African-American, he was denied the opportunity to finish college. He was attending college when he was drafted but after the War ended he didn’t have the money to return to school. He went o work for the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier however and retired from there.

  2. Yes, Dana! My first thoughts exactly. My dad built a little house for our family in 1950 or so after returning from the war. I was 2 years old, so I don’t know for sure that the GI Bill helped, but I’d lay money on it. He mustered out as an AF tech sergeant and had no family who could contribute. A few years later, when the GI Bill was about to expire, he took college courses.
    In contrast, a tiny fraction of Black veterans were allowed to participate at that level. Redlining shut most of them out of home-ownership and segregated colleges meant that they didn’t benefit from the same educational opportunities as their white counterparts. That meant that they did not take part in the rise of the middle class and all the other advantages the article celebrates. Quite a blot on our country’s reputation as a land of equal opportunity!

    • Thank you for adding to Diana’s comment, Linda. My uncles did not benefit from the GI Bill. I had not considered the inequities and exclusion until now. Grateful to both you, and Diana for initiating this narrative.

  3. My dad completed one year of college at the UW Extension Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin before he was drafted into the Army and serving through 1945 in the Pacific Theater. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, upon his return home he was able to enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and complete his degree in business. At the end of his career, he was able to retire comfortably on a state pension. Contrast this with his grandfather, who worked in a chair factory in Sheboygan, lost his job during the Great Depression and never worked again. The G.I. Bill changed the course of my dad’s life, my life and the lives of my son and grandchildren.

  4. I’m a Vietnam era Vet. Drafted into service in ‘72 I did not serve in Vietnam but did my tour of duty in Korea. I eventually took advantage of both the educational benefits and have used my home loan on three occasions for residences. When I realized the education benefits were going to expire I doubled down on effort and they did expire but I was a college quarter away from my bachelors degree when it did. I was eventually able to pursue a teaching career and retired a couple years ago. I would Most likely never have pursued higher education without those benefits. Those federal benefits profoundly changed the trajectory of my life.

  5. My husband is a veteran of the Viet Nam era. He joined the Air Force after graduation from Seton Hall University. After four years in the USAF, he utilized the GI Bill to receive a Masters Degree in Economics at Farleigh Dickinson University. He went on to become a VP in a sales organization.

  6. After four years in the Navy I was married with a baby coming. It took me 2 1/2 years to finish up at Winona State then a year at Thunderbird on the GI Bill. Caterpillars training qualified, so the rest was used up in an excellent program. I stayed in heavy and lifting equipment for 42 years. Without the GI Bill we would never had the experiences and rewards of a graduate education.

  7. It would be great if spouses of deceased veterans could buy a house under the va loan , my husband served 20 years in the Air Force

    • I also think children of vets should have these benefits. Obviously if we want to grow a successful, stable, inclusive middle class, this would go a long way toward achieving that goal.

  8. This might not be the proper place to put up a question, but I don’t know a better one – did women auxilairies of the military equally benefit from the GI bill, like WACs, WAVEs, SPARs etc.? Did women qualify anyway as veteran?
    Thanks on beforehand,
    Loes, the Netherlands

    • On a similar note, I have wondered how many women war factory workers lost their jobs to returning men.?
      I did benefit in 1966 after completing my Cuban Crisis US Army service; the GI Bill paid me $97/month to attend CMSC. With that, and a job and a student loan, and a family, I was graduated with a teaching certificate in Industrial Arts and went on and taught school. Am very grateful for the help I received and have repaid through service to my wonderful USA.
      By the way, I would not have
      achieved as much without the encouragement to get an education from my new-found
      Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    • My mother was a nurse in General Patton’s Third Army. My father was in the Canadian Air force in WWII. Canada did not have anything like our GI Bill. My mother used hers to learn to fly, when she and Dad bought their first house it was with her VA loan.

  9. the inequities in GI benefits, both in housing and education, provide an opportunity for reparations to be paid to the descendants of those that were left behind.

  10. My father started in the Navy at 17 in 1943. He served 2 years, got married and 9 months later I was born in 1947. My Dad was called back for Navy duty in 1950 fo serve in Okinawa as Shore Patrol. He was gone for a year. In 1955 my parents built a new home in a new subdivision. This was possible only because of the GI Bill. My husband served 27 years in the Navy Reserve, retiring as a Commander. He used his GI benefits to get his MBA at the University of Colorado. We have benefited greatly from military service.

  11. My father was a WWII vet. He was wounded during his service in the Pacific Theatre. He eventually became 100% disabled. If it had not been for the Veterans Administration and the G.I. Bill, my mother, brother, and I would have been homeless. The Veteran’s Administration took care of us and we lived a nice middle class life. When I was old enough to go to college I received an academic scholarship for tuition and fees, but the V.A. gave me enough money as a War Orphan to go to college. I have been a teacher for 32 years.

  12. Yes the GI Bill helped my Dad.
    My dad was a World War ll veteran.
    He drove a supply truck in Germany.
    I think it was called Red Ball Express.
    He used the GI Bill to go to school for barbering and also becoming a brick mason
    He bought a house in Washington, DC and he has lived there for over 50 years.
    Thanks again for the GI Bill

  13. My dad served in the Army during WWII, and I joined the USAF during the Vietnam Era because I wanted to serve my country. The benefits weren’t on my radar at entry, but they certainly helped me to get a degree and teacher certification after my service. I wish I knew why my dad (now deceased) did not take advantage of the GI Bill. The VA home loan was a boon to my life, too. God Bless America!

  14. Black soldiers were being lynched in uniform when they returned from WW2; worse than being killed in battle. They not only had to endure this treatment, they also were denied the benefits and rewards for fighting for America. This country has repeatedly let down Black soldiers and have never apologized for this. Housing, education, and retirement benefits were all denied to them, while America bent over backwards to assist Jews after the war. I feel this blog’s author knew what Black soldiers went through but chose not to discuss it. White washing America history is still the norm.

    • I’m very curious how “America bent over backwards to assist Jews after the war.” I never heard anything like this and have been unable to find anything on Google. I know the US let in some Holocaust Survivors and voted at the UN in support of the creation of the State of Israel. Other than this, I remember the Opposite: the signs on hotels in Florida that said:”No Jews, no dogs, no Ni——s,” I remember not being able to go into a club in South Carolina because it was “restricted.” Like that. I know Germany started paying reparations to Jews and to the State of Israel, in the late ‘50’s or ‘60’s for the confiscation of Jewish property, for the use of Jewish slave labor, and for murdering 6,000,000 Jews. But I don’t know what America did and I sure would love to hear about it! Thank you.

      • Congress has paid reparations to Jews since the end of WW2. That total is now 3 billion per year. Combined total is over 80 billion. Additionally the US currently gives direct payments to Holocaust survivors families of 12 million in addition to direct payments srarting in 2019 totaling “Payments to date on approved claims total $30,028,500,” according to the State Department. “With the additional payment of 97 percent of their prior approved claim amount, living survivors would receive in total $401,880; living surviving spouses would receive up to $100,470; and heirs of survivors and surviving spouses would receive a portion of these amounts.”
        A Black soilder couldn’t get a damned house back by the government, but Jews still to this day get paid even though the US did not kill not one Holocaust victim in a concentration camp in Germany. If you want more info, look it up. Besides all that, the lynching of Black soldiers was the ultimate disgrace. It’s a shame you were not allowed into SC clubs.

        • Found a Politico article from 2019 the details the reparations to Holocaust victims of WWII. It states that the money paid by congress in your article came from Germany, France, Swiss banks holding deposits of deceased victims. I thought your point was that the US taxpayer was paying reparations and think it needed clarification.

          • That money I mentioned is just part of the reparations. As I said, the US is lock into 12 million over the next few years. That is a continued reparations package Obama passed just before he left office. Then you have the 3 billion per year the US gives Israel. So yes, it is reparations outside of the money the US disbursed for France. The bottom line is the US gives Jews reparations every year. You can try an slice and dice it, but there is no justification for why the Government does it. It’s BS.

          • Obama administration earmarks $12m for Holocaust survivors. I’m done explaining to you how unjust it is the US pays Israel and Holocaust survivors one cent. I don’t care how they or you justify it. It is wrong, period.

        • My dictionairy might be wrong, but there is quite a difference between the meaning of ‘reparations’ and ‘assistance’. The latter was the aim of the 2015 allocation of the Department of Health and Human Services.
          RES’ info is correct, I guess the overall picture has become a bit distorted.
          The Allies were of great help in pressing Germany and Austria to reparations as they weren’t in hot haste to do so; America was forerunner, acting in 1947 under martial law to restitute stolen property.
          Loes

  15. My father’s uncle, a WW II veteran, took advantage of the GI Bill to learn how to be a better farmer. As the one who took over the family farm, learning the new and improved agricultural techniques offered in classes were of a great benefit to him.

  16. My father benefited from this bill in the area of Education. He attended College in Winona Minnesota where both my brother and I were born … so I guess he received the $75 subsistence for dependents It is wonderful to read this information as it adds to the picture of what life was like for my parents post war

  17. My husband went to Vietnam and went to college when he got back for law enforcement. He bought a house and was a deputy sheriff for 32yrs. He retired as a sergeant. He had va benefits for medical now as the Medicare supplement was too expensive to cover kidney transplant drugs.

  18. On the Jewish question that WLH raised, he is right. I am surprise you didn’t call him/her an Anti-Semitic cause they criticize the Jewish territory. To all who want to get the facts right please read : THE SECRET RELATIONS BETWEEN BLACKS & JEWS by NOI research department.
    By the way it’s not Anti-Semitic book, it’s quoted & reference by Jewish scholars, so you will have to condemn them. Read it !

  19. Let it be known that from 1932 until 1952, the “DEMOCRATIC PARTY” (President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman) was in complete control of the United States of America. President Roosevelt signed into law the G.I. Bill, which basically gave benefits for college education and housing to the White soldiers and nothing to the Black soldiers. This is a travesty of justice upon all African Americans. Thus, all African Americans today should seek reparations from the “DEMOCRATIC PARTY” for this injustice.

  20. I served in the US Army from 1963-1966.
    Served with the First Cavalry in Korea and represented them at the First Annual Gold Plate Dinner at the Tokyo Hilton in Jan 1964.
    I separated from active service in March 1966 and started attending college nights in September 1966. it took me 7 1/2 years to earn a BS degree from Elmira College. Paid by the GI Bill and helped greatly in my career and support my family.
    Joining the Army to serve my country was the one of the best decisions I made.
    Today I also enjoy the wonderful health care provided by the VA especially with the Community Care created by the current Administration.

  21. My church is doing a study series on reparations and we watched a video today about the GI bill. A million African-Americans served in the US armed forces and yet most were denied the provisions of this bill that their white counterparts got. Less than two percent of the housing benefits went to people of color. The housing provisions ushered in the practice of bank industry redlining to keep new suburbs all white. We didn’t learn this history in our high school history classes. I think a part 2 of this article is warranted.

    • A part two – that would be great. It could provide correct information, and scatter some myths that inevitably emerge in the wake of history. The GI bill itself was ment for all American veterans, and that it worked out so well for the white male veteran and not for his non-white and female fellow-warriors serving was for the non-white veterans due to the then active Jim Crow laws, and for the women due to witheld information that the bill’s provisions even existed and did apply to them. There’s good information out there but one has to dig deeper that the first hits on Google and double check sources. And avoid sources that point fingers at other groups, they usually are misinformed. Stick to the cause, which should be understanding history and learning from it.

  22. My dad, who grew up poor and never dreamed of attending college, went to school on the GI bill, so our entire family has felt the positive benefits of his decision to take advantage of it and get his teaching degree. It is so, so sad all soldiers were not given equal access. I pray we’ve learned as a country to do better. I have wondered this: did women who served also get the same benefits? And how about the Navajo soldiers so well known for code talking? I’d love to know more about this as well!

  23. My dad was in the Navy in WWIl. He got more benefits than the men coming home today with limbs missing. When he got older, he saw the best doctors and received the best equipment, down to his hearing aids. The soldiers now, no matter what race or gender, don’t get near as much as World War I soldiers.
    The soldiers now, no matter what race or gender, don’t get near as much as World War Il soldiers.

    • Quite true concerning today’s returning vets. I lost my VA benefits when they dropped my disability percentage to 10% then 0%.

      It’s also why we see so many ads for Veteran help organizations today.

  24. Two fold here to answer:

    My FIL was a WWII Navy vet and rec’d the education benefit to complete his Civil Engineering degree. That got him job working for the Massachusetts state. He worked on and designed many of existing roadways (some good and some terrible) around Boston. Examples Route 128, Boston Expressway and roads down to RI.

    I’m a Navy vet (honorable medical discharge) from the Cold War/Vietnam era 1961-1968. Since my family didn’t have the money me to go to college I struggled with 2 jobs [1 FT 1 PT] while going full time to college for 3 years. I first took advantage of VA benefits after my discharge from the Navy, which lasted 2 years allowing me to finish college and start grad school. I switched over the GI Bill to complete my graduate school and then train at Honeywell. This gave me a 36 year career in IT from which I’m now retired. Basically, the GI Bill benefits gave me the opportunity to have many good jobs and support my family.

  25. The comments about reparations fail to make it clear that the US taxpayer is not paying reparations to anyone for anything. However I have an ancestor who died fighting in the Union Army. I would like to know how much money for reparations folks think I should get from the descendents of the slaves he died trying to free?

    • Reparations, if at all, are due first to those who did the freeing. Something I’ve told quite a few people who think that their slave ancestors mean they are due money.

      How about my ancestor [5th NY aka Duryee’s Zouaves] who was at Gaines Mills [3rd day of the 7-day Battle to take Richmond] wounded, captured and then put in a POW camp where he died?

      What about others from my family who fought and were wounded fighting to free this nation from the Slavery crowd? Guess it’s good to be a descendant from a Slave, but those who actually did the fighting & dying to make it happen doesn’t make me responsible for paying anything.

      I think my ‘dues’ have already been paid!

  26. Origins of the GI bill after WWII.
    This allowed my Father, who served in the South Pacific with the Navy, to become educated in refrigerator repair when he traveled and lived in Philadelphia for several months after he returned. After the war, Electric refrigeration and repair was a huge emerging industry replacing “ice boxes” in homes with commercial applications as well. In fact it allowed him to advance to the “cooler department” at the Coca Cola bottling plant on Wood Street in Wilkes-Barre, where he had worked before the war, for very low wages.
    After serving in the Korean conflict in the early 50’s, he took advantage for a second time of education benefits and in the repair of “television sets” a household appliance that was emerging as a must have item which allowed the public to be better informed on world events.”

  27. One of the ways I have educated myself about the history of racial violence and injustice in America has been through Newspapers.com. I would initially look up ancestor names for news articles and obituaries, but my eye was always drawn to articles on the same page detailing some terrible act against a person of color, or an article which degraded them. So, I started exploring, and it brought home for me the depth and level of historical racism. In the post WW2 era, there are plenty of articles available on the topic of returning Black vets. So, I am really surprised that a writer with Newspapers.com would ignore the fact that a million or more returning Black veterans were denied access to housing , jobs and college degrees. Perhaps she can edit her article to include this and ask ” Did your ancestors/ relatives benefit or were they denied?

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