New Changes to the GI Bill
By Erin Hasinger
When the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 was developed, it changed the face of the GI Bill, bringing with it even more exciting benefits for veterans. The new GI Bill offers extra benefits for those serving after September 11, 2001, and covers education that starts on or after August 1, 2009. The new bill does not have an enrollment fee.
Under this new bill, veterans and servicemen and women can receive a host of educational benefits, including paid tuition and fees, $1,000 yearly stipend for books and other supplies and a monthly stipend for housing. $2,000 is also available for one certification or licensing test, and $1,200 is available for a year’s worth of tutoring assistance.
Tuition benefits include up to the maximum tuition rate charged by a public institution in your state. This means that if the most expensive public school tuition is $10,000 per year, no matter what school you attend, you’ll be covered up to $10,000 for the year.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is offered to those who have served at least 30 days of active duty (continuously) after September 10, 2001 and were discharged because of a service-related disability, or to those who have served 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001, and were either:
• Honorably discharged
• Honorably released and transferred to Fleet Marine Corps Reserve or Fleet Reserve, or placed on temporary disability list or retired list
• Honorable released and eligible for further reserve service
• Released or discharged for EPTS (existed prior to service), HDSP (hardship) or CIWD (condition interfered with duty)
The program offers 36 months of benefits for up to 15 years after separating. The amount you are eligible for depends on your length of service.
• 100% = You’ll qualify with 36 months of active duty or 30 days of continuous active duty service with release or discharge due to a service-related disability.
• 90% = 30-36 months of active duty
• 80% = 24-30 months of active duty
• 70% = 18-24 months of active duty, excluding entry level and skill training time
• 60% = 12-18 months of active duty, excluding entry level and skill training time
• 50% = 6-12 months of active duty, excluding entry level and skill training time
• 40% = 90 days-6 months of active duty, excluding entry level and skill training time
For those already receiving or planning on receiving MGIB benefits from the original program, benefits are transferable. For those taking online classes who won’t be eligible for the housing stipend, though, the MGIB program may be a smarter option.
In addition to changes for active duty personnel, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008 that was signed January 28, 2008, brought some key changes to the GI Bill for reservists.
• MGIB-SR and REAP Accelerated Payments – Reservists who are eligible for the GI Bill or the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) may now be eligible for accelerated payments for non-degree programs of up to two years. This is effective October 1, 2008, and more information is expected to be forthcoming from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
• 80% Rate Qualification for REAP – REAP payments are now based on your length of mobilized time. The 80% rate is now offered to anyone with at least two years of continuous active duty or multiple mobilizations (beginning September 11, 2001) that combine for more than three years. This change was effective January 28, 2008.
• REAP $600 Buy-Up Program – Reservists who are members of Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve or Inactive National Guard can now pay as much as $600 to increase their monthly pay rate by up to $150. This change also was effective January 28, 2008. Check out the VA’s handy buy-up table to see how monthly payments are increased.
• Modified REAP Ending Dates –REAP benefits now are available for ten years after separation from Selected Reserve. This is offered to members called from Selected Reserve to active duty and then finished their service contract with Selected Reserve, as well as members called up from Individual Ready Reserve or Inactive National Guard who complete their service contract in Selected Reserve. This is retroactive to September 11, 2001. Check out this link from the VA for examples of who exactly is eligible for the change.
• Modified Ending Dates for Involuntarily Separated MGIB-SR – For those members of units deactivated between October 31, 2007, and September 30, 2014, MGIB-SR benefits are now offered for 14 years from the original date of eligibility. This change is effective January 28, 2008.
• REAP Eligibility Retained During Selected Reserve Service Breaks – Members who remain a part of Ready Reserve during breaks from Selected Reserve will now retain their eligibility for REAP benefits. Previously, one could take a break of 90 days or less to retain eligibility; this is now offered to anyone who takes a break of any length, so long as they serve in some component of Ready Reserve during their break. This is retroactive to September 11, 2001.
The GI Bill is a fantastic military benefit that helps all military personnel attend college and go on to have exciting, successful careers. Keeping up with the changes is one key to making sure you don’t miss out on all that’s available.