Binghamton University's storied Veteran History

The Serviceman's Readjustment Act was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt June 22nd 1944. The law gave the following benefits to U.S. soldiers coming home from World War II:

  • education and training opportunities
  • loan guarantees for a home, farm, or business
  • job-finding assistance
  • unemployment pay of $20 per week for up to 52 weeks if the veteran couldn't find a job
  • priority for building materials for Veterans Administration Hospitals.

WWII veterans were entitled to one year of full-time training plus time equal to their military service, up to 48 months. The Veterans Administration paid the university, trade school, or employer up to $500 per year for tuition, books, fees and other training costs. Veterans also received a small living allowance while they were in school. By the time the original GI Bill® ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million World War II Veterans had participated in an education or training program. While Veterans embraced the education and home loan benefits, few collected on one of the bill's most controversial provisions—the unemployment pay. Less than 20 percent of funds set aside for this were used.

Binghamton University, established in 1946 as Triple Cities College, was built to serve the needs of local veterans returning from World War II. Thomas J. Watson of IBM was an early supporter of the college. He provided some of the initial support and donated land from the IBM campus in Endicott, New York (the original site of the campus); the college was then a branch of Syracuse University. Originally, Triple Cities College offered local students the first two years of their education, while the following two were spent at Syracuse. However, starting in the 1948-1949 academic year, students were allowed to earn their degrees entirely in Binghamton. When the college split from Syracuse and became incorporated into the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1950, it was renamed Harpur College, in honor of Robert Harpur, a colonial teacher and pioneer who settled in the Binghamton area. It was one of only two public liberal arts schools in New York state in 1950 (the other was Champlain College, Plattsburgh). Among the four University Centers (Stony Brook, Albany, Buffalo and Binghamton), Binghamton was the first to join SUNY. Over 50 years later, Binghamton University continues its commitment to provide a quality, affordable education to its Veteran community.