GI Bill Extensions Available Due to COVID-19

ATTENTION GI Bill beneficiaries:

Thanks to the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 and Public Law 116-140, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been authorized to extend the eligibility periods for students who were pursuing a course of instruction with their GI Bill benefits when their school either closed or suspended a program after March 1, 2020.

If you were enrolled in a course or program utilizing your VA benefits, and your benefits had not expired before March 1, 2020, then the VA will allow for an extension of your eligibility period based on the benefit you were using.

This applies to:

  • Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (chapter 30)
  • Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserves (chapter 1606)
  • Dependents’ Education Assistance for Children (chapter 35)
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill (including Fry Scholarship recipients)
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Entitlement Spouses and Children

Public Law 116-140 authorizes the VA to extend the 10-year eligibility period for the MGIB and 15-year eligibility period for the Post 9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries who meet the following criteria:

  • You were actively enrolled between March 1, 2020 and December 21, 2020;
  • You had an interruption in training due to COVID-19;
  • You had not reached the delimiting date (expiration of benefit) prior to the interruption; AND
  • You experienced a closing (either permanent or temporary) of the educational institution; OR
  • You experienced a temporary suspension of a program

In order to apply for this extension, you MUST submit a request to the VA. There is no specific form required for this request, but your signed statement should include:

  • The beginning and ending dates showing the beneficiary was unable to attend training, and 
  • A statement indicating that it was “due to COVID-19”

To send your request, use the VA’s “Ask a Question” link on their Help Portal. It will be on the right side of the page, near the top, and above the “Call Us” section.

This extension will not be automatically applied, so please take advantage of this opportunity to extend your benefit’s eligibility dates if you meet the criteria listed above.

If you have further questions about your GI Bill benefits, or if you’re not sure when your benefit expires, contact the VA’s Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 (888 GI BILL 1), between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. Or you can use the help portal link above to ask any questions you may have.

(Photo by Benedikt Geyer on Unsplash)

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.