Today, the U.S. Department of Vetarans Affairs sent out a press release regarding upcoming changes to the GI Bill. Below the break you will find 3 pieces of information. The first is a fact sheet, followed by a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet and finally the full press release.
There are links (found at the very end of this article) to where you will find complete information about the Post-9/11 GI BIll, the VA's education info phone number, the link to the VA eBenefits website and a link to where you may "Ask a Question" through a secure email.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Veterans Benefits Administration
BENEFITS AND PROVISIONS OF THE POST- 9/11 GI BILL
In June 2008, the President signed into law the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (title V of PL 110-252), which created the Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefit program for Veterans serving after September 10, 2001. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most generous VA education benefit program since the original GI Bill was signed in 1944.
In January 2011, PL 111-377 expanded eligibility under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, simplified tuition and fee payments, and increased the range of programs available for use of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
In July of 2011, Congress passed “Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011” (H.R. 1383), and on August 3, 2011, the President signed it into law. The law allows certain students attending private schools in certain states to receive the greater of $17,500, or up to the amount the student was receiving during last academic year, whichever is greater.
CHANGES TO THE POST-9/11 GI BILL
- Expands the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include active duty 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 (VA will begin paying benefits on October 1, 2011, and eligible individuals may be paid retroactively for enrollments beginning on August 1, 2009)
- Individuals utilizing benefits while on active duty will be subject to the same benefit level determinations as Veterans, based upon the amount of aggregate active duty service accrued (was effective March 5, 2011)
PROGRAMS OF EDUCATION
- Students can use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for non-college degree programs such as on-the-job training, flight school programs (other than a private pilot license), apprenticeship training, correspondence courses, and other programs offered at non-degree schools (effective October 1, 2011)
TUITION AND FEES
- Tuition and fee payments are simplified for those attending public schools, and a national yearly maximum is created for those enrolled in private or foreign schools (effective August 1, 2011)
- Pays in-state tuition and fee amounts for training at public institutions
- Pays up to $17,500 during the academic year for training at private and foreign institutions
- The Yellow Ribbon Program may be used for costs in excess of the cap
- Eligible students attending private schools in certain states may receive benefits based upon the greater of $17,500, or up to the amount the student was receiving during last academic year. for eligible students in the seven states.
MONTHLY HOUSING ALLOWANCE
- Monthly housing allowance benefits are prorated based upon rate of pursuit, rounded to the nearest multiple of 10 (effective August 1, 2011)
- If you are enrolled in 9 credits when 12 credits is full time, your rate of pursuit is .75 and you will receive 80 percent of the applicable Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate
- If you are enrolled in 10 credits when 12 credits is full time, your rate of pursuit is .83 and you will also receive 80 percent of the applicable BAH rate
- Break or interval pay is no longer payable under any VA education benefit program unless under an Executive Order of the President or due to an emergency situation such as a natural disaster or strike (effective August 1, 2011)
- Entitlement which previously would have been used for break pay will be available for use during a future enrollment
- Example: The semester ends December 15. The housing allowance is paid for the first 15 days of December only. The next semester begins January 10. The next payment will be for January 10 and the rest of January
- Allows individuals who are eligible for both Chapter 31-Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to choose to receive an amount equal to the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s monthly housing allowance instead of the Chapter 31 subsistence allowance (effective August 1, 2011).
- Monthly housing allowance benefits are payable to students (other than those on active duty) enrolled solely in distance learning, at one-half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents (effective October 1, 2011) The full-time rate for an individual eligible at the 100% eligibility tier would be $673.50 per month for 2011.
- VA will pay Montgomery GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve kickers on a monthly basis instead of a lump sum basis at the beginning of the term (effective August 1, 2011)
BOOKS AND SUPPLIES
- The books and supplies stipend can be paid to students attending school while on active duty (effective October 1, 2011)
1. GI Bill Hotline: 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) 7:00am – 7:00pm CST M-F(insert hours)
2. GI Bill Website: www.gibill.va.gov
3. Summary of Recent Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill: http://gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/Post911_changes.html
4. Internet Inquiry: www.gibill2.va.gov click “Ask a Question” tab
5. Search our Questions and Answers: www.gibill2.va.gov click “Answers” tab
6. Keep up to date on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gibilleducation
7. Information about GI Bill Overpayments and Debt: http://www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/debt_info.html
8. Ask questions about overpayments by contacting VA’s Debt Management Center at 800-827-0648 or email@example.com.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Veterans Benefits Administration
BENEFITS AND PROVISIONS OF THE POST- 9/11 GI BILL
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Question: I’m a Veteran enrolled in a public university in my home state. Will my tuition reimbursement be affected by the new law?
Response: No, tuition and fee costs will still be paid to the school on your behalf. Benefits will still be prorated by the eligibility tiers (40% - 100%) based upon your amount of qualifying active duty service.
2. Question: I’m a Veteran enrolled in a public university outside my home state. The out-of-state tuition, however, for my university is less than the highest in-state tuition for the state. Up to what amount will VA now cover in tuition?
Response: On August 1, 2011 the term “highest in-state tuition” is no longer needed when discussing tuition and fees and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If the school charges the student as an out-of-state student the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers up to the in-state tuition and fee rate. For the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the academic year is August 1 through July 31.
3. Question: I’m a Veteran enrolled in a private university. The tuition for my university, however, is less than the highest in-state tuition for the state. Up to what amount will VA now cover in tuition?
Response: On August 1, 2011 the term “highest in-state tuition” is no longer needed when discussing tuition and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If the school is a private school the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers up to $17,500 per academic year (prorated by your benefit level). For the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the academic year is August 1 through July 31.
4. Question: I’ve heard rumors that there is legislation to grandfather Veterans at private institutions of higher learning in seven states. Now that the legislation was passed by Congress, and my state is one of the seven, up to what amount will VA now cover in tuition? If my state is not one of the seven, up to what amount will VA now cover in tuition?
Response: The proposed bill, H.R. 1383, grandfathers a higher tuition and fee rate for students attending private schools in seven states. This bill was passed by Congress on July 26, 2011 and signed into law on August 3, 2011.
Under this legislation, VA will pay benefits for eligible students in the seven states the greater of $17,500, or up to the amount the student was receiving during last academic year. The tuition and fee maximum rates established for the 2010-2011 academic year are available on the GI Bill website at the following link: http://www.gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/tuition_and_fees_2010.htm
If you are not attending school in one of the seven states, you will receive up to $17,500 per academic year for training pursued at private schools.
5. Question: How were the seven states chosen?
Response: We defer to Congress on the formulation of the legislation.
6. Question: I’m a Veteran taking 12 credit hours at a university with a semester system. What Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate will I receive? If I drop a course and reduce my course load to 9 credit hours, what BAH rate will I receive? If it takes VA a number of months to effect the reduction in BAH rate, how will the overpayment be recouped?
Response: VA refers to the housing benefit payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill as the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). Assuming 12 hours is certified as full time by the school, the student’s rate of pursuit would be 100 percent and the student would receive 100 percent of the MHA rate. If the course load were reduced to 9 credits then the rate of pursuit would be reduced to 75 percent. With the rounding rule mandated by PL 111-377, the MHA would be rounded to 80 percent and paid at that rate.
When we issue you a payment, we send you an award letter stating that you are responsible for notifying both your school and VA if you make any changes to your training (reductions, terminations, etc.) VA generally reduces payments beginning the first day of the month following the month during which training was reduced. For example, if you or your school notifies us that you reduced training from 12 credit hours to 9 credit hours on September 15, VA would begin paying you the lower housing allowance rate on October 1. VA generally terminates payments effective the day you stopped training. In this case, if you withdraw from all classes on September 15, VA would stop your MHA payment on September 15. If an amount paid for MHA needs to be recouped, VA will send you a letter explaining your options for repaying the debt. If you do not respond to the letter and/or no payment plan is approved, VA will recoup the amount from future benefit payments.
The most important thing for Veterans to remember is that if they have a debt, overpayment or recoupment issue or believe they may be in debt in the near future or if an error has taken place, to please call VA immediately. We have experts who can discuss a Veterans specific situation and work with them to resolve the problem.
The Debt Management Center is the authoritative source of debt collection information. You can reach them at 1- 800 827-0648 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Question: My last day of the fall term is December 18. The spring term does not commence until January 3. How will this affect my BAH? My spring break runs from March 20-27. Will my BAH be reduced for that period too?
Response: The law prohibits VA from paying benefits during intervals (also known as breaks) between terms. In this example, MHA will end December 19 and resume January 3. Your monthly housing allowance will not be reduced for short breaks in training (seven days or less) that occur during a certified period of enrollment. As such, you will receive an MHA payment for the week of “Spring break”.
8. Question: My school participated in the Yellow Ribbon Program and currently they are not listed on the VA website as a participating school. Does this mean that VA will not provide matching funds if my tuition costs exceed VA reimbursement?
Response: The Yellow Ribbon Program is voluntary on the part of the school. If they are not listed for the current year then they have chosen not to participate. If there is no Yellow Ribbon agreement then VA will not provide matching funds. A list of schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program is available at www.gibill.va.gov.
9. Question: During my service, in order for my education benefits to be transferable to my spouse or children, I had to extend my contract for a three-year period. I have since separated and wish to transfer my benefits. Do the coming changes affect my ability to do this?
Response: The changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill did not amend the provisions that require an individual to be serving in the Armed Forces to request, and be approved, to transfer benefits to one or more dependents. However, the Department of Defense, not VA, determines eligibility for transferability. For more information go to http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2009/0409_gibill/.
10. Question: What phone number can I call to talk to a real person about my specific circumstances?
Response: You may speak with a GI Bill customer service representative Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). Hearing impaired individuals may call 1-800-829-4833.
VA Reaches Out to Veterans to Explain Upcoming Changes to GI Bill
Encourages Veterans to Visit VA Website to Learn More
August 4, 2011 WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to inform Veterans of recent changes made by Congress to the Post 9/11 GI Bill that take effect in 2011.
General Allison Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits, said “The Post 9/11 GI Bill is incredibly important because it reduces the financial burdens of higher education so that Veterans have an opportunity to achieve their education goals. VA believes it is important for Veterans to be aware of changes to the GI Bill this year and learn more about how these changes may affect them.”
“It’s hard to believe how far we have all come with the Post-9/11 GI Bill the past two years,” stated General Hickey. “Today, more than 537,000 students have received over $11.5 billion in GI Bill benefits to help them take charge of their future.”
Upcoming changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill effective August 1, 2011 include paying the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments upon the highest in-state tuition and fee rates for every state; capping private and foreign tuition at $17,500 per academic year; and ending payments during certain school breaks, to preserve Veterans’ entitlement for future academic semesters. Also, certain students attending private schools in select states can now continue to receive benefits at the same rate payable during the previous academic year.
Beginning October 1, 2011, eligible individuals will be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for programs such as non-college degrees, on-the-job training, and correspondence courses, and they will be eligible to receive a portion of the national monthly housing allowance rate when enrolled only in distance learning courses.
VA is implementing the latest round of changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and has already begun processing fall 2011 enrollment certifications. Outreach by VA has helped to increase participation by colleges and universities in the Yellow Ribbon program, which helps students avoid out-of-pocket costs that may exceed the benefit. Today, more than 2,600 schools are participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.
“VA is committed to ensuring Veterans have the information and tools they need to succeed,” General Hickey concluded.
Complete information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill is available at: www.gibill.va.gov. VA’s education information phone number is: 1-888-GIBILL-1. For ongoing benefit information, Veterans and Servicemembers can log into the VA eBenefits website: www.eBenefits.va.gov. To ask a question in a secure e-mail, use the “Ask a Question” tab at: https://www.gibill2.va.gov/cgi-bin/vba.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php.