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The U.S. once led the world in free education. The recent debate in Washington about whether to let student loan interest rates double ignores the fact that many students already cannot afford a college education or advanced training.

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It was a nice idea while it lasted: The new GI Bill promised veterans who wanted to go to college money for tuition, books and living expenses. More than 277,000 signed up for the program, which was supposed to kick in Aug. 1. Many are still waiting for their checks.

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More than 100,000 veterans have already submitted claims under Sen. Jim Webb's new GI Bill, which aims to pay for the college tuition, housing and books of students who served in the military after 9/10/2001. That number is expected to hit 500,000 in the program's first year. (More after jump)The new GI Bill is sending a whole generation of veterans to college for free.

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He's hung up his tiara and sash, ladies and gentlemen: Virginia's Sen. Jim Webb has announced in no uncertain terms that he is officially out of the running to be Barack Obama's choice for vice president. As Talking Points Memo reported Monday, Webb put out a formal statement declaring that he has made it clear to Obama's camp that he wants to continue serving as a senator but will still enthusiastically back Obama's bid for the presidency.

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Sen. John McCain spoke in Albuquerque, N.M., on Monday, defending his position against the Jim Webb GI bill, which offers college tuition coverage in exchange for three years of service in the U.S. military, and drawing distinctions between himself and his opponents in terms of plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

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