Post 9/11 GI Bill Changes

More changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill mean good news for some veterans and bad news for others.  Namely, certain parts of the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2010 reduce or eliminate benefits in some cases.  Although new service members can likely forget about making a one-time payment of $1,200 for the Montgomery GI Bill, student veterans might be negatively affected by changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The House bill made it clear that veterans’ benefits should not be reduced, but the final version omitted such protection.  Below is a summation of “fixes” in the Senate bill.  Unless otherwise noted, the change will not take effect until Aug. 1, 2011 and more changes may ensue as the bill matures to an act, law and VA policy.

-All tuition and fees at public higher education institutions—mainly state schools—are covered by the VA.  There is no more cap on tuition and fees that varied from state to state. For private institutions, there will be an annual cap of $17,500.  The Yellow Ribbon program can still cover out-of-pocket tuition costs.

-Monthly housing stipends are determined by the number of course hours take. Housing stipend payments are unavailable during break periods.  But more veterans will be eligible for monthly housing stipends if they’re half-time or “distance learners.”  Effective Oct. 1, 2011, active-duty members and spouses would be eligible for annual book stipends.

-Members of the National Guard are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits if they were activated for national emergencies, title 32 and the like.  Although this is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009, benefits won’t be paid until October 1 of this year.

-As of Oct. 1, 2011, there would be no limitations on non-degree seeking programs, such as certification courses, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational or technical training.

-Disabled veterans can replace Voc-Rehab subsistence payments with Post-9/11 GI bill housing stipends.

Congress made more changes to the bill, including several to fix vagueness and loop holes.  The American Council on Education and the National Association of Veterans Program Administrators expressed concerns about some of these fixes and their potential to financially hurt some veterans.

Photo thanks to Mike Licht, under creative common license on Flickr.

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