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Multiple Degrees Possible with New VA Rules

Multiple Degrees Possible with New VA Rules

A rule change by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beginning April 1, 2021 expanded opportunities to Veterans. The new policy permits them to use their education benefits to obtain multiple degrees.

Previously, the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefit counted against any GI Benefit the Veteran would use in the future. The “48-month rule” has historically capped the benefit to 48 months. A reinterpretation of the law prohibits the use of VR&E benefits to count against the 48 months limit of the GI Bill.

RELATED: Important GI Bill Update: 48 Month Rule

“Now, Veterans who use Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits prior to using any other VA education program, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill, can still use up to 48 total months of the other educational assistance benefit programs,” the VA announced in a statement.

The Impact

The VA did not offer a specific number of Veterans that may be impacted by this new rule. However, the VA will send notification letters to those affected by the update, and no action is necessary by anyone currently receiving education benefits.

If you are currently using education benefits, under this new rule your monthly entitlement will be recalculated to remove any months of VR&E charged as VA training. You will receive a separate letter advising you of the corrected balance for your remaining benefit.

What is Veterans Readiness & Employment?

This program allows veterans who have at least a 10% service-connected disability access to resources in training and employment.

There are five “tracks” within the VR&E support program:

These programs help veterans find jobs, keep those jobs, and to live as independently as possible.

Best Practices Based on New Rule

For the best results, a Veteran should use the VR&E benefit first. The new rule does not allow the VR&E benefit to count against the 48-month cap. However, the use of GI Bill benefits does count against the VR&E benefit. 

Furthermore, this approach would allow a student to extend the time they have under these programs, essentially giving them the funding for multiple degrees. 

“Veterans may apply for Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits at any time,” the VA stated in response to a question. “However, the use of entitlement in any VA education program impacts the amount of remaining VR&E entitlement that a Veteran may be eligible to receive.”

Conclusion

Overall, this is a big change, and not a cheap one either. Steve Beynon of Military.com stated that the “switch in policy could be the most significant change to education benefits since the ‘Forever GI Bill’, which erased the benefit’s expiration date, was signed into law in 2017.”

Certainly, this reinterpretation of the law will benefit many Veterans.

 

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About the author

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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.