DEFINITION of 'G.I. Bill'

The informal name of a United States law that gives military veterans a variety of benefits, including business loans, mortgages, education-expense assistance and unemployment payments. The G.I. Bill, formally called the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, provided these benefits to men and women following WWII.

BREAKING DOWN 'G.I. Bill'

The G.I. Bill is considered one of the most significant pieces of 20th century legislation passed by the U.S. Congress. Much of the impetus behind the Bill’s passage stemmed from the country’s experience with veterans following WWI, when returning veterans were not effectively assimilated back into the workforce. The lack of support and the advent of the Great Depression led to public protests, including the Bonus Army marchers in 1932.

The Bill did much to increase the number of college-educated Americans following the war, as many veterans who would have rejoined the workforce instead opted for degrees. In 1947, considered the peak of the Bill’s use, roughly 49% of college admissions were of veterans. The original G.I. Bill ended in 1956, at which point more than half of veterans had opted to receive technical training or attend college. The Bill also supplied more than 2 million home loans to veterans by 1952.

The G.I. Bill has been updated several times since 1944, including 1985 (the Montgomery G.I. Bill) and 2008 (the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill).

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