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Forever GI Bill: Benefits, Eligibility, & Changes

Forever GI Bill

Benefits and Eligibility for the Forever GI Bill

The Forever GI Bill, also known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, was signed into law in August of 2017. Not a separate GI Bill, this act enhanced and modified the existing programs. Many refer to these changes as the Forever GI Bill as a sort of generic descriptor but the bill does not create a brand new GI Bill.

The law significantly changed Veterans’ education benefits, helping to enhance or expand education benefits for veterans, service members, and their families as well as survivors.

Assistance for Students Affected by School Closures and Certain Disapprovals

Qualifying veterans may apply for restoration of some GI Bill benefits and relief if they have been affected by school closures or by schools who have been denied participation in the GI Bill program.

VA may provide relief to those affected by one of the following reasons:

The VA official site announced a case-by-case eligibility determination for these applications. The VA official site says the program took effect “90 days after August 16, 2017,” and applies to “courses and programs discontinued after August 1, 2015.  For those classes and programs discontinued from January 1, 2015, through August 16th, 2017, you can have your entitlement restored if you did not transfer your credits.”

At press time, there is some confusion over whether or not students still have access to this benefit. The VA official site has a link instructing readers to
Click here to find out more and apply for restoration.” At press time that link is broken at

Elimination of 15-year Limitation

This removes all time limits to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for those whose last discharge or release from active duty is on or after January 1, 2013.

This also applies to children of deceased service members who first became entitled to the Post-9/11 GI Bill program benefits on or after January 1, 2013, as well as all Fry spouses.

REAP Eligibility Credited Toward Post-9/11 GI Bill Program

This is intended for those who had established eligibility to educational assistance under the REAP (Reserve Educational Assistance Program) before November 25, 2015, and lost it because of the sunset provision. They can elect to have their service credited towards the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Using the GI Bill at Technical Schools and Non-institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs)

You can use your Post-9/11 GI Bill educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study programs at these educational institutions that are not institutions of higher learning:

Work Study Expansion

This removed an expiration date (June 30, 2022) for certain qualifying work-study activities where you would be paid an additional educational assistance allowance.

These activities include:

Changes to Licensing and Certification Charges

The entitlement charges for licensing and certification exams as well as national tests under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will end up being pro-rated based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test.

Changes to Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance

The amount of entitlement new eligible individuals receive under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program will change from 45 months to 36 months.

This applies to those who first enroll in their programs of education on or after August 1, 2018. Those who did enroll before then still qualify for the 45 months.

This will also increase the amount of educational assistance that is payable for institutional courses and institutional courses under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program.

Those who are eligible may qualify to receive a monthly allowance, which, at press time, was $1,224 for full-time coursework, $967 for three-quarter time, and $710 for half-time coursework. Your experience may vary.

Changes to Transfer of Benefits (TEB)

If you have transferred your entitlement to a dependent, the Forever GI Bill allows you to designate a new dependent if the original dependent passes away before using the entitlement.

A dependent who has received the entitlement may qualify to transfer their entitlement to another eligible dependent if the service member or veteran who made the transfer passes away.

RELATED: Transfer Your GI Bill to Spouse or Dependent

Consolidation of Benefit Levels

This eliminates the 40% benefit level and expands the 60% benefit level with the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. If you have aggregate service of 90 days but less than six months of active duty service, not counting entry and skill training, you will now qualify at the 60% benefit level.

Informing Schools About Beneficiary Entitlement

The VA must make information about the amount of educational assistance to which you are entitled under chapter 30, 32, 33, or 35 to educational institutions.

This information would be provided to them through a secure information technology system that is accessible by the educational institution.  This information would be updated on a regular basis to reflect any amounts that are used by you for your education. If you are pursuing a course of education, you may elect not to provide the information to the educational institution.

GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance

If you use the Post-9/11 GI Bill on or after January 1st, 2018, you will receive a monthly housing allowance that is based on the DoD’s reduced BAH for monthly housing rates. If you used these benefits before January 1st, 2018, you continue to receive a higher monthly rate based on the non-adjusted BAH rates.

Monthly Housing Allowance For Post-9/11 GI Bill

The MHA (Monthly Housing Allowance) under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is to be calculated based on the zip code of the campus where you go physically go to school for the majority of your classes. This is instead of the location of the institution of higher learning where you are enrolled.

Reserve Components Monthly Housing Allowance

The VA prorates the monthly housing allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for members of the reserve components of the armed forces.

More Benefits for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

The VA will provide up to 9 months of additional Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for those who:

Priority will be given to those who are entitled to 100% of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and to those who require the most credit hours. The VA can pay for each eligible individual for up to nine months of additional benefits. The total cannot exceed $30,000 which was the dollar amount verifiable at press time. Your experience may vary.

Purple Heart Recipients

Those honorably discharged and awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, may qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% level for up to 36 months.

Reserve Component Benefits

Those who have served as Guard or Reserve members under 10 U. S. C. 12304a and 12304b will be able to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. You may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education.  This applies to service in the Armed Forces on or after June 30, 2008.

Reserve Duty That Counts Toward Post-9/11 Eligibility

Any time a Reservist was ordered to active duty to receive authorized medical care, be medically evaluated for a disability, or complete a Department of Defense (DoD) healthcare study on or after September 11, 2001, may now count as active duty toward eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.

Yellow Ribbon Extension to Active Duty Service members

Active duty service members may use the Yellow Ribbon program. This is a benefit previously not offered to those still serving.





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