Often 36 months (or even 48 months, in the case of multiple federal GI bills) is not enough to prepare one to meet their career goals. Unforeseen circumstances of life, change in degree focus, and credits not transferring from one school to the next are just some examples of the things that can happen, leaving you as a veteran out of education benefits and still without a degree or the credentials you need to get the job you want. Or maybe you do have your degree, but want to get a certificate of training in something that will enhance your career, lead to a promotion, etc.
In cases like these, it is possible veterans (and in some cases their family members) may have GI Bill-like benefits offered by their state of residence. In this article we look at three such states: Texas, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Named after the late Senator Grady Hazelwood, the Hazelwood Act dates to the 1920s and provides up to 150 credit hours of education benefit to eligible veterans that can be used at most of the state’s public universities.
To be eligible for the Hazelwood Act, a veteran must have exhausted his/her federal GI Bill benefits including Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits, if applicable. The veteran must also have either began their military service in Texas, lived in the Lone Star State before entering military service, or designated Texas as their home of record when they joined the military. The third requirement is for the veteran to have served for at least 181 days on active duty.
Spouses and dependents
Spouses of veterans can use the Hazelwood Act benefit if their spouse died due to military service, is missing in action or classified as 100% unable to work due to a service-connected disability. Veterans may also pass on their Hazelwood Act benefit to their children through the Legacy Act. While only one child at a time can use the Hazelwood Act benefit, the 150 hours or remaining unused amount can be divided between designated children of the veteran.
Established in 2007, this state’s GI Bill provides up to a program maximum of $10,000 up to age 62 to eligible veterans, service members or spouses and children of deceased or severely disabled Minnesota veterans. The benefit can be used for Higher Education, on-the-job training (OJT)/Apprenticeship or License and Certification.
To receive benefits under the Minnesota GI Bill, a student must be enrolled in one of Minnesota’s public school and a resident of Minnesota who:
- Is serving or has served honorably in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, including the National Guard and Reserves
- Is a non-veteran who has served for at least five years cumulatively in the Minnesota National Guard, active duty or reserve component on or after September 11, 2001
- Is a surviving spouse or child of a parent who has died or has a 100% VA determined total and permanent disability, as a result of military service and must have a certificate of eligibility under Chapter 35 Fry Scholarship or Chapter 35 Dependent Education Assistance programs.
The most recent state to enact their own GI Bill, eligible families began enrollment on October 29, 2019 under the Military Family Education Program, or PA GI Bill. Under the new bill signed into law in July 2019, eligible families – serving parent, spouse and dependents – can each go to college at any of the approved state’s public schools for up to five years (10 semester) at no cost to them.
The eligibility requirements under the PA GI Bill include:
- The serving member must commit to an additional six years of service after their initial six-year enlistment.
- Enrolled in a state education institution approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
- Selected school accepting the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Of the 8,000 eligible military family members, 20 families had signed up so far on October 29th. The PA GI Bill is an education benefit on top of the state’s non-transferable Education Assistance Program in place for National Guard members and veterans serving or have served their initial six years of service.
While most states offer some type of military benefits to their military members and veterans (and in some cases dependent family members), the three states in this article are among the most progressive in the nation.