Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) has introduced Legislation that would allow the surviving spouse of a deceased service member to use that member‘s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit. Current law allows the spouse of a deceased military member to receive education benefits through the Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance program. But the benefit is less than under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Spouses of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act is an important step for meeting the needs of military families,â Boren said in a statement. âWe must do everything within our means to care for our nation‘s surviving spouses.â [Source: NGAUS Washington Report 19 Jul 2011 ++]
Changes are coming for Post-9/11 GI Bill users this summer/fall when the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 – S.3447 goes into effect. Many veterans, servicemembers, and their eligible family members will see some significant changes in the benefits. Keep in mind that Congress is working on additional changes to the changes that will be implemented as those in the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 – HR 1383. Unfortunately, it is still unknown if the changes to the legislation will be passed before the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act goes into effect. The intent of the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act is to expand eligibility, simplify tuition rates, and ensure that the Post-9/11 G Bill offers the same types of benefits as older versions of the GI Bill. To do so, congress was forced to reduce the cost by trimming certain aspects of the original program. In the end, some veterans will have their benefits reduced so that others may have a share of the benefits. The following summary explains how these changes will affect the education benefits of specific groups of Post-9/11 GI Bill eligible students.
National Guard Members: Eligibility Expanded – Certain National Guard members mobilized on Title 32 orders on-or-after September 11, 2001 are now eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and any qualifying Title 32 mobilization may be used to increase your percentage of eligibility. Effective August 1, 2009, but not payable until October 1, 2011.
Online Students: New Housing Allowance – The housing allowance which will become effective 1 OCT 2011 be payable to students enrolled solely in distance learning inclusive of online education. The housing allowance is half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents. For 2011 the rate will be $673.50. This amount is subject to prorating based on the number of credits being taken. Note: This does not include active duty or their GI Bill eligible spouses.
Active Duty Post-9/11 GI Bill Users
– Tiered Benefits – Active duty members will see their tuition and fees prorated based on the eligibility tiers (40%-100%). This previously applied to veterans only. These same limitations apply to transferee spouses of active duty servicemembers. – Went into effect on March 5, 2011.
– Tuition Rate Limits – Active Duty Members and their transferees will be subject to the same national rate as veterans ($17,500 a year) for enrolled in a private or foreign school pursuing a degree. In addition, they will have their tuition and fees at public schools limited to the in-state tuition and fees rate. – Effective August 1, 2011.
– Transferability Expanded – NOAA and PHS personnel are now eligible to transfer their entitlement to eligible dependents – Effective August 1, 2011
-New Book Stipend – Allows students on active duty (and their eligible spouses) to receive the books and supplies stipend. – Effective October 1, 2011.
Veterans Using Post-9/11 GI Bill
– Tuition and Fees Changes – Tuition and fee rates for those attending a public school will have all public school tuition and fees covered at the in-state (or resident) rate. Tuition and fee rates for those attending private and foreign school will have the tuition and fee payments capped at $17,500 annually. Note: The Yellow Ribbon Program still exists for out-of-state fees and costs (non-resident) above the cap.
– Monthly Kicker Payments – The VA will pay MGIB (chapter 30) and MGIB-SR (chapter 1606) kickers‘ or Army/Navy College Fund payments, on a monthly basis instead of a lump sum at the beginning of the term. – Effective August 1, 2011.
– Prorated Housing Stipend – Students enrolled at more than half-time but less than full-time will begin having their housing allowance prorated based on the number of classes they are taking (also called rate of pursuit). This amount will be rounded to the nearest tenth. For example a student enrolled with a rate of pursuit 75% would receive 80% of the BAH rate. – Effective August 1, 2011.
– End of Payments During School Breaks – The VA will no longer pay benefits during breaks – like spring or winter break. The end to âinterval payâ applies to all VA education benefit programs unless under an Executive Order of the President or due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or strike.
1. This means that when your semester ends (e.g. December 15th), your housing allowance is paid for the first 15 days of December only and begins again when your next semester begins (e.g. January 10th) and is paid for the remaining days of January.
2. Students using other VA education programs are included in this change. Monthly benefits will be pro-rated in the same manner.
3. Entitlement that previously would have been used for break pay will be available for use during a future enrollment.
– Multiple Licensing, Certification and National Placement Exams – Reimbursement for more than one âlicense or certificationâ test will be possible. In addition to reimbursement of fees paid to take national exams used for admission to an institution of higher learning (e.g., SAT, ACT, GMAT, LSAT). – Effective August 1, 2011.
– Expanded Vocation Training Opportunities – Veterans will be eligible to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to cover the following:
1. Non-college degree (NCD) programs: Pays actual net cost for in-state tuition and fees at public NCD institutions. At private and foreign institutions, pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees or $17,500, whichever is less. Also pays up to $83 per month for books and supplies.
2. On-the-job and apprenticeship training: Pays a monthly benefit amount prorated based on time in program and up to $83 per month for books and supplies. Learn more about OJT and Apprenticeship.
3. Flight programs: Per academic year, pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $10,000, whichever is less.
4. Correspondence training: Pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $8,500, whichever is less. – Effective October 1, 2011.
– New Voc-Rehab Stipend Options – Vocational Rehabilitation participants may now elect the higher housing allowance offered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill if otherwise eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. – Effective August 1, 2011.
[Source: Military.com | Benefits Week of July 18, 2011 ++]