There are several proposed changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill that the VA and lawmakers hope will improve the benefits already offered in the year-old version. These will not take effect until 2011, however, as the VA has requested the delay in order to work out various budget concerns.
According to Pentagon officials, these proposed changes would improve military readiness, enhance provisions of the current bill and help them meet their goals for recruiting and retention.
Several of the proposed changes are highlighted below:
Transferability: This will most likely continue to be discussed for some time. Even though their fear was proved wrong this past year, some lawmakers are still concerned that service members will leave the military after their first term in order to receive the benefits. Because of budget limits, panel members are debating whether every service member should be able to transfer their education benefits to their family.
Tuition and fees: Many Americans choose to join the military because they receive money for education. The amount allotted in the current bill depends on each state’s most expensive public school, but with the changed bill, the VA would pay all tuition and fees for veterans who are full-time students. This is only true for those attending public colleges or universities; the maximum amount a student would receive at a private school would be $20,000 per year.
Also, the $1,000 book allowance that veteran students receive would now be available for active-duty members and their spouses using the transferred benefits.
Living stipend: Currently, students who are enrolled in distance learning classes must have at least one course located within a classroom in order to receive a living stipend, but the proposed change is for all distance-learning students to receive the stipend. Also, any student considered half-time would now be eligible for the stipend.
Training and apprenticeships: These programs are not currently covered under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and if added, benefits could be increased by 30 percent compared to other GI Bill programs.
National Guard and reserve members: Those who are full-time service members would now be eligible to receive benefits for time with the Active Guard and Reserve program and time spent dealing with natural disasters.
Photo thanks to shawncalhoun under creative common license on Flickr.