The IDF announced that soldiers who enlisted before 2013 and served in a combat unit will now be eligible for a free academic degree as of October.
The new measure, which is estimated to cost NIS 230 million a year, will pay for two thirds of the soldiers’ education while the last third will be paid for by the soldiers’ post-military grant. The funds for the program will be provided by the Friends of The IDF and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot also reportedly asked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to find ways to fund the education of non-combat soldiers as well.
Ari Friedman, 25, served in the Kfir Brigade and welcomed the IDF’s decision. “I am glad to see that the IDF is taking the initiative to assist its soldiers in advancing their education and life beyond their service,” he said. “I have no doubt that this will make a positive impact on the soldiers upon their release, as well as on the State of Israel at large.”
Soldiers from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds will also be eligible for the new program despite not having served in a combat unit.