The VA has officially announced that the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) is ending.
In an email release, Curtis L. Coy, the Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Opportunity at the VA announced the end of the GI Bill program for reservists. The termination of the program was mandated by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and reported by military.com on December 1.
The REAP program was originally created to provide benefits to members of the Reserve components who were called or ordered to active service by the President or Congress in response to a war or declared national emergency. According to the VA, around 13,700 people used REAP in fiscal year 2014, the most recent date for which they provide data. The number of people using REAP has been declining around 25% annually since the inception of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009, since most recipients are eligible for both programs and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is far more generous.
According to the VA release the change affects beneficiaries differently depending on if they are enrolled in school, or when they applied for the program:
- Current REAP beneficiaries - who were attending school during the semester, quarter, or term that immediately preceded Nov. 25, 2015, may continue to receive REAP benefits.
- REAP beneficiaries not attending school - Beneficiaries who applied for REAP but were not attending an institution during the semester, quarter, or term that immediately preceded Nov. 25, 2015, are not eligible to receive REAP benefits.
- New REAP applicants - if VA received your initial REAP application after Nov. 24, 2015, you are no longer eligible for REAP benefits.
VA's statement contains no language referring to a stipulation in the law that everyone has until November 25, 2019 to use their REAP benefits. The VA does say that "[they] are actively working to identify Veterans who have previously applied for VA benefits and are affected by this change to notify them of this change and their potential eligibility for other VA educational assistance programs."
If you are a reservist or national guard member who currently is receiving or have received REAP benefits in the past we recommend you contact the VA at 888-GIBILL1 (888-442-4551) as soon as possible to find out about your benefits.