Recently, I wrote about the value of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. While many enlist for various reasons, in a recent survey, 53% of the respondents said they did so because of the educational benefits. And with the price of a college education soaring, it is easy to see why trading three years of service to one’s country in exchange for a four-year degree is so valuable.
But even as valuable as the Post 9/11 GI Bill is, its value has increased even more due to some recent changes. In January 2021, Congress passed Public Law No: 116-315. In that Law were 32 provisions that impacted the GI Bill. While many of the changes were minor, a few are important to note.
For veterans or military members enrolled in an educational institution and experienced (or will experience) any of the below reasons, either temporarily or permanently between March 1, 2020 and December 21, 2021:
- reduced the number of credit hours you could attend
- shortened semesters periods
- attendance was delayed
- school relocated
- program converted from in person to online training
- school disapproved or canceled a program
- school modified or made a program unavailable due to COVID-19 after March 1, 2020
… then, they are eligible to receive up to four weeks of their Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) for the month the disruption happened. Being the national average MHA amount is now $1,900, a month of this benefit could be a real shot in the arm financially for affected members that are authorized the full amount.
Another change in entitlement due to COVID-19 is for veterans whose school closed – either temporarily or permanently – because of the pandemic. For those affected, their entitlement will be extended 661 days past their original expiration date. This also includes veterans who had to withdraw due to illness or to take care of someone who was ill due to the pandemic. Of course, this would not affect those whose discharge date was on or after January 1, 2013 as your delimitation date of 15 years was eliminated as one of the changes under the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 … also known as the “Forever GI Bill”.
In-state Tuition Change
Previously, veterans who have been out of the military for three years or less, could get the resident in-state college tuition rate even if they were not residents of the state where they attended school. However, once past that three-year mark, they then had to pay the non-resident tuition rate, which in some cases is twice that of the lower in-state rate. Now, schools must charge veterans the in-state-tuition rate regardless of how long they have been out of the military.
Foreign Schools and the Yellow Ribbon Program
Veterans attending a foreign school previously were not eligible to receive the Yellow Ribbon (YR) Program benefits. But under the change in the law, foreign schools can participate in the YR Program and waive up to 50% of the difference between what the VA pays and the school charges. And of course, the VA will pay an equal amount on top of what they had already paid, making the same YR rules for foreign schools that applies to U.S. based schools.
Edith Nourse Rogers Stem Scholarships
Since this scholarship started in 2019, it has provided an additional nine months of entitlement (up to a maximum of $30,000) to eligible veterans or dependents using the Fry Scholarship. One caveat of the scholarship has been the applicant must be in an undergraduate degree program majoring in one of the eligible STEM fields or a STEM graduate seeking a teaching certificate and have fewer than six months of GI Bill entitlement left.
But under the change, students can now use this scholarship for a qualifying dual-degree program as long as both degrees meet the rules of the scholarship. Another change pertains to health care professionals; clinical training programs are now covered where they had not been before.
Know the GI Bill Changes That Impact You
These changes make a valuable education benefits program even more valuable. A copy of all the changes under this new law can be downloaded at Congress.gov.