Changes to Post 9/11 GI Bill boost benefits

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Changes to Post 9/11 GI Bill boost benefits

by: Kim Suchek | .
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published: August 29, 2012

Hello Military Community,

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is one of the most important programs ever created for military personnel and has helped more than 773,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reach their educational goals since it was implemented in August 2009. It pays tuition and fees on behalf of veterans or eligible dependents directly to the school in which they are enrolled. Eligible participants also receive a monthly housing allowance and up to $1,000 annually for books and supplies. The program further allows eligible service members to transfer their benefits to their spouses and/or children (See next week’s article for more details).

Changes in the program in 2011 under GI Bill 2.0 provide, among others, a wider range of educational options to service members, including undergraduate and graduate degrees, vocational/technical training, on-the-job training, flight training, correspondence training, licensing and national testing programs, entrepreneurship training, and tutorial assistance. All training programs must be approved for GI Bill benefits.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, 1,770+ colleges and universities are supplementing Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits by participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, degree granting institutions make additional funds available for a veteran’s educational program without an additional charge to their GI Bill entitlement. To make up the difference for those students whose tuition and fees exceed what the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers, institutions can voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to designate an additional amount of funding, and the VA will match that amount.

The following, taken from www.military.com, are a few points you should be aware of:

1. Some changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill are retroactive. However, the change in eligibility for National Guardsman activated under title 32 orders is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009, but went into effect in October 2011.

2. The length of time served after 9/11 and “rate of pursuit” (how many credits you are taking) still affect your level of benefits. The amount of tuition and stipends paid under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will vary depending on your zip code, your “rate of pursuit,” and your number of months of active duty service after Sept. 11, 2001. Listed below is a quick reference showing the percentage of total combined benefits eligibility based on the following periods of post-9/11 service:

• 100% - 35 or more total months
• 100% - 30 or more consecutive days with a disability-related discharge
• 90% - 30 total months
• 80% - 24 total months
• 70% - 18 total months
• 60% - 12 total months
• 50% - 6 total months
• 40% - 90 or more days

The three major benefits that you have since GI Bill 2.0 went into effect are: up to 100% paid tuition no matter what education level you are seeking, a monthly housing stipend, and a stipend of up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies. If you attend less than full time you will receive a portion of the payment based on the number of units of study. These payment rates are calculated according to the length of your period of service. A breakdown of the 3 benefits is as follows:

*Tuition and Fees: Payments are made to the school (of your choice) for all established charges. Tuition and fee payments are uncapped for public colleges and universities (at the in-state resident rate). Students attending private colleges and universities have a $17,500 annual tuition and fee payment cap. The amount of established charges payable for the entire quarter, semester, or term is sent directly to the school as a lump sum payment.

*Housing Stipend: The monthly housing stipend is paid based on the monthly basic allowance for housing (BAH) payable for a military member with dependents in pay grade E-5 residing in the same ZIP code as the school where the individual is enrolled. Active duty members and individuals training at half time or less are NOT eligible for a housing stipend. The housing stipend is subject to prorating based on the number of credits being taken and number of months served on active duty. It is also payable to students enrolled solely in distance learning, including online education. The housing allowance in this case is half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents.

*Book Stipend: You can receive a stipend of up to $1,000 a year for books, supplies, etc. The individual will receive a lump sum payment in the first month of each quarter, semester, or term. The amount of the stipend is equal to the fraction of the whole academic year that the quarter, semester, or term represents. This stipend is now available for active duty members and their eligible dependents.

*NOTE: The amount of the monthly housing and book stipends will be paid based on the percentage of maximum benefits payable and “rate of pursuit.” And as of October 2011, the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers more than just college degree programs. It now includes:
*Non-college degree (NCD) programs (at non-degree granting schools): Pays the actual net cost for in-state tuition and fees or $17,500, whichever is less. Also pays up to $83 per month for books and supplies.
*On-the-job and apprenticeship training: Pays a monthly benefit amount prorated based on time in the program and up to $83 per month for books and supplies.
*Flight Programs: Pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school per academic year or $10,000, whichever is less.
*Correspondence training: Pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school per academic year or $8,500, whichever is less.
*Additional Changes: Allows reimbursement for more than one “license or certification” test (previously one test was allowed), of fees paid to take national exams used for admission to an institution of higher learning (e.g.,SAT, ACT, GMAT, LSAT), allows those who are eligible for both Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits and Post-9/11 benefits to choose the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s monthly housing allowance instead of the chapter 31 subsistence allowance, and NOAA and PHS personnel are now eligible to transfer their entitlement to eligible dependents.

4. There is a limitation of Educational Assistance based on your “rate of pursuit.” The housing stipend is reduced according to the number of classes you are taking. In addition, if you attend training at half time or less you are not eligible for the monthly housing stipend. You are eligible for an appropriately reduced stipend for books.

5. The housing allowance is now payable to students enrolled solely in distance learning, including online education. The housing allowance is half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents (the rate was $673.50 in 2011). This is also subject to prorating based on the number of credits being taken.

6. There have been changes to how college fund benefits are paid. Individuals eligible for a kicker (College Fund, Reserve Kicker) will remain eligible for such kicker under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If eligible, you will be paid the kicker each month as an increase to your housing stipend. (See future article about College Fund Kicker information).

7. Active service performed by National Guard members under title 32 U.S.C. for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the National Guard, or under section 502 (f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency NOW counts toward benefits eligibility.

8. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Public Health System (PHS) personnel are NOW eligible to transfer their entitlement to eligible dependents along with members of ALL branches of the military.

I hope this answers some of the questions you may have regarding the Post-9/11 GI Bill. I realize it can be hard to understand all the pros/cons regarding using this bill. If you have any further questions, please contact me.

To learn more about your specific eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other veteran’s education programs, visit http://www.gibill.va.gov.

Best wishes from my family to yours,

Kim Suchek

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