Paycheck Chronicles

GI Bill Changes: How Far Will They Go?

With the recent signing of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvement Act, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  The way these changes were designed, they took some benefits from some groups in order to extend more benefits to other groups.  Many Post 9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries are vocally upset about the way the changes are structured.

One of the things I love about the internet is the fact that all sorts of people can share their thoughts with other people who might be far away.  It allows diverse groups to bring their thoughts to the common internet table and we all can learn from each other.

On that note, here are my thoughts:

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is not perfect, but it is awfully darn good.  The benefits are tremendously generous to start, and the ability to transfer benefits to family members is nothing short of remarkable.  Yes, I know that those benefits have been earned, but they are still beyond anything that I could have ever imagined the Department of Defense offering.  I also think that they are not sustainable for the long term.  The cost of the current GI Bill is more than our country can afford, and as a result, I predict that the current GI bill will be modified yet again before too much time passes.  I know that there are others who have similar thoughts.

If you agree with the premise that the current GI Bill is unsustainable, then you have to wonder:  How can I use the benefits of the current, generous GI Bill to best benefit my family?  As I consider the ways in which the current GI bill might be modified in the future, I have lots of questions.  Will the Department of Defense honor the transferred benefits as promised?  The absolutely unprofessional and ridiculous handling of the MyCAA situation suggests that the Department of Defense has no problem changing the rules in the middle of the game.  If I can't trust the DOD to hold up to their end of the bargain, is it even worth transferring benefits to children who might not be in college for 5, 10, even 15 years?

If you question the long-term viability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you might consider trying to use as many of your benefits as possible quickly.  Active Duty members can use their GI Bill benefits to obtain more education than can be paid for by tuition assistance, and benefits can be transferred to spouses (if you meet the eligibility criteria.)  Maybe this is the right time for your spouse or you to pursue that education you've thought about.

So, what do you think?  Do you think that the Department of Defense will honor the terms of the current Post 9/11 GI Bill in the future, or do you think that they are likely to make significant changes to the benefits before your family or you have an opportunity to use them?  How are you planning to work the GI Bill system to best benefit your family?  I'm so curious what you think!

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