Students in a college
Students in a college Illustration

On Sunday, the Israeli government approved the areas in which a plan will be applied that  grants one tuition-free year of studies to soldiers who have completed their required duty in the IDF or have done national service.

The free tuition plan will be offered in institutions of higher learning in most areas of the Negev, the Galilee, Judea, Samaria, and Ashkelon.

The plan was first approved by the government in September of 2009. Under it, a free first year will be provided to individuals who have completed their army service or national service and are studying in academic institutions in the periphery, the name used for areas that need development and are relatively far from population centers .  Alternately, it was decided that resources will be allocated to aid soldiers who have completed their military service and who come from areas in the periphery and are entering academic institutions throughout the country.

It was also decided that the scholarship will be provided by a special fund that would be established for this purpose, with an annual budget of 80 million NIS

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the plan is an important one that will assist both the soldiers as well as the periphery. “With this decision we encourage higher education among veterans and graduates of the civil service, while reinforcing the periphery and attracting a strong and educated population top these areas. This decision is part of the commitment made before the election and we are working to implement it.”

Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel said that she believes this decision will lead to a positive revolution in post-secondary education in Israel. “[The decision] will significantly reduce gaps in Israeli society and allow to make higher education more accessible to younger people. This is part of a strategic plan for making young people a national resource. I predict that thousands will receive this grant. The next step as far as I’m concerned is to ensure that young people in these areas obtain employment and housing.”