Many Guard and Reserve servicemembers and veterans activated since Sept. 11, 2001 will soon see a new package of education benefits. This new Post-9/11 GI Bill boasts a comprehensive education benefits package and, best of all, it offers National Guardsmen and Reserves the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts.
The new bill goes well beyond helping to pay for tuition; many veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, will get full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend, and a $1,000 a year stipend for books and supplies. The new bill also gives Reserve and Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 access to the same GI Bill benefits.
If you are in the Guard or Reserve or are a veteran who served at least 90 consecutive days on active duty in the Armed Forces since Sept. 11, 2001, you're eligible.
However, the amount of benefits you receive under this program are determined by the actual amount of accumulated post 9/11 active-duty service you have. To be eligible for the full benefit, you must have 36 months of active duty service since Sept. 11, 2001 or have been discharged due to a service-connected disability. Here is a quick reference showing the percentage of total combined benefit eligibility based on the following periods of post 9/11 service:
The Post 9/11 GI Bill will provide up to 100% of your tuition. In addition, the program provides a monthly housing stipend and a stipend of up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies.
Tuition Rates - Under the new GI Bill you will be provided tuition up to the highest established charges for full-time undergraduate students charged by the public institution of higher education in the State in which you are enrolled. One of the added features of this tuition payment plan is that the tuition will be paid directly to the school, relieving you of the responsibility. This is similar to the process used for military tuition assistance.
Based on 2008 in-state tuition rates, the anticipated annual tuition payment rate for 2009 will be just over $6,000. The low being Wyoming at $3,500 a year and Michigan which is the highest payment in-state tuition rate at $13,000.
Monthly Housing Stipend - If you are enrolled in a traditional college program as a half-time to full-time student, you will be paid a monthly housing stipend equal to the monthly amount of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. The average housing stipend will be approximately $1,100 a month. However, if you attend distance learning programs such as correspondence courses and online you will not qualify for this stipend.
Book and Supply Stipend - You will receive a lump sum payment the first month of each quarter, semester, or term. The payment will help cover the cost of books, supplies, equipment, and other educational fees for that academic term. The payment amount will be equal to either a quarter or half of the annual $1,000 cap for that academic year, depending on how the academic year is divided - quarter or semester terms.
Extended Benefits Expiration Date - Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the new GI Bill will allow you to use this benefit for up to 15 years from your last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.
This new GI Bill is set to go into affect on August 1, 2009. However, as with any new legislation, it will take some time for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to sort out all the details. Benefits will not be paid for any training or education programs completed before July 31, 2009.
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