The Post-9/11 GI Bill has evolved quite a bit over the last few years. Some changes have improved the benefit for veterans, while other - less popular - changes were made to pay for the improvements. The latest changes came on the first of August, mainly in the form of tuition and fee limits and unpopular reductions of some benefits.
But they’re not quite done yet, because as of October 1, 2011, we will see another wave of changes. These October changes will have a huge impact on veterans who study 100% through distance learning (online and otherwise) and open new opportunities for vocational pursuits.
The October changes will bring expanded education and training benefits, which will add a vocational element to the Post-9/11, making it more like the Montgomery GI Bill. These changes will allow veterans, servicemembers, and eligible dependents to take vocationally focused courses at non-degree granting schools. It will also include opportunities for On-the-job and apprenticeship training, flight programs, and correspondence training.
In addition, new Book Stipend rules will allow active duty students (and their eligible dependents) to receive up to $1000 a year for books and supplies.
But, the most anticipated change will be the Housing Stipend for eligible students enrolled in 100% online (or other forms of distance learning) courses. This new “online” housing allowance will be equal to half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents, which will be $673.50 a month for 2011.
But the changes aren’t quite done yet - there are several changes in the works which may or may not get through the legislative process. To date only one, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 (HR 1383), has been passed by Congress and is currently awaiting the President’s signature. HR 1383 would give certain veterans a reprieve from the new tuition and fees cap which went into effect this month. This bill has a very limited scope and will only impact veterans who reside in Michigan, New Hampshire, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
Here is a quick list of GI Bill changes which are still being considered by Congress:
- H.R. 1130 - The Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents Act of 2011
- H.R. 803 - Equity for Injured Veterans Act of 2011
- H.R. 1451 - Post 9/11 GI Bill Payment Restoration Act
- H.R. 2002 – To permit disabled or injured servicemembers to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits after retirement