Post 9/11 GI Bill Eligibility Percentages Explained

Post 9/11 GI Bill

How does the VA determine whether you are eligible for 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement or not? This is an important question since those who do not qualify for 100% of the GI Bill may still attend college using this VA education benefit but may need to pay some of the expenses out-of-pocket because they don’t have full entitlement.

How the VA Determines Your GI Bill Benefits Percentage

The Department of Veterans Affairs bases your GI Bill benefit percentage on how long you may have served on active duty.

There are “other factors” also mentioned at the VA official site. In today’s military, new recruits may typically be allowed to apply for GI Bill benefits after having served on active duty for 90 days or more. If you aren’t sure whether you have served long enough to qualify you can always check your Statement of Benefits by logging in at VA.gov.

Who is Eligible for 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits

You may be eligible for the full 100% GI Bill benefit if you meet at least one of these requirements:

  • You served on active duty and were awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001;
  • You served on active duty for at least 30 continuous days and were discharged because of a service-connected disability;
  • You served on active duty for at least 36 months.

Who Is Eligible for a Percentage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Service members who were on active duty for less than 36 months are not eligible for the full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. They may be entitled to a portion of the benefit based on time served:

  • Between 30 months and 36 months: 90% of the full benefit
  • Between 24 months and 30 months: 80% of the full benefit
  • Between 18 months and 24 months: 70% of the full benefit
  • Between 6 months and 18 months: 60% of the full benefit
  • Between 90 days and 6 months: 50% of the full benefit

What The Post 9/11 GI Bill Covers Based On Percentage

The VA determines your Post 9/11 GI Bill coverage based on a variety of factors including the percentage of the benefit you qualify for. Typically the VA needs the following information to process your application:

  • How much the school charges for in-state tuition/fees;
  • Whether the school is willing to charge you at the in-state rate;
  • What percentage of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits you have.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Rates For In-State Public School Tuition

Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will cover you at the percentage you’re eligible for at the in-state rate. VA.gov provides an example using an arbitrary amount that may or may not accurately reflect the cost of attending a given school.

In the example, if your in-state tuition is $22,000 and you qualify for the GI Bill at 100% of the rate, your tuition will be fully covered. Those entitled to 70% of the GI Bill would have some $15,400 covered with the student paying the remainder.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Rates For Out-of-State Students

Thanks to the Veterans Choice Act, those who want to attend an out-of-state public school with VA-approved programs must be offered the in-state rate. Your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will cover you at the percentage you’re eligible for such as in the example above.

You may be eligible for in-state tuition under the Act if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You’re receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), or Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E).
  • You’re a “covered individual” meaning you served on active duty for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001.
  • When you start school, you live in the state where the school is located

Covered individuals can also be spouses or dependents. As a spouse or child of a veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs says you’re a “covered individual” if:

  • You’re using education benefits transferred from a veteran, or
  • You’re using benefits under the Fry Scholarship and the veteran had served a period of active-duty service of at least 90 days before their death.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Out-of-State Tuition

If you want to attend an out-of-state public school, but that institution does not provide in-state rates for veterans,  the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay the out-of-state rate at the percentage you qualify for, but only at the in-state rate. You will pay the remainder. In such cases the Yellow Ribbon program may help offset the remaining amount.

Post-9/11 GI Bill For Private Schools

The Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover costs at a private school up to a certain amount and the Yellow Ribbon program may be able to help offset the cost for those who qualify. To determine your GI Bill rate for a private school, you need the following information:

  • The current national maximum amount that the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover at a private or foreign school;
  • The percentage of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits you’re eligible for.

Multiply the percentage of benefits you’re eligible for by the current national maximum amount. This is how much the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will cover.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a centralized list of GI Bill rates and other important VA Education benefits information; you can check the rates for your current school year for a variety of VA education programs including the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Fry Scholarship, DEA/Chapter 35 benefits and more. When checking these rates, know that in cases where a class begins before the date on the benefits chart, that class is paid in full using the previous year’s rate.

VA Education Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program

Have you performed a period of national service by joining the military under the VA National Call To Service program or NCS? You may qualify for VA education benefits through NCS. This program is intended for those who need an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill, and is offered under specific qualifying circumstances, as we’ll explore below.

Who Qualifies For Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program?

There are three basic requirements you must meet in order to be considered for VA education benefits under NCS.

1. After basic training, the applicant must serve on active duty “in a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense” for at least a year and three months.

2. Without a break in service, you must also serve either an additional period of active duty or a period of 24 months in an active status in the Selected Reserve.

3. After meeting these two requirements and without a break in service you must agree to a “remaining period of obligated service” as defined in your contract. This service can include:

  • Active Duty
  • Selected Reserve
  • AmeriCorps or similar approved domestic national service programs
  • Any combination of the service options above

VA Education Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program

When you join the military under the National Call-To-Service program you get a choice of benefits from a list of options. If you qualify for the program you may choose between:

  • A cash payment of $5,000, or;
  • Repayment of a qualifying student loan, not more than $18,000, or;
  • Educational assistance equal to the 3-year monthly Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) rate for 12 months, or;
  • Educational assistance equal to 50% of the less-than-3-year monthly MGIB rate for 36 months.

The VA official site says “National Call to Service (NCS) participants who elect to receive an educational assistance incentive are not entitled to additional assistance” under the GI Bill. You must choose one program or the other and cannot use both simultaneously at the full payment rate.

VA rules state that if you enter military service under NCS you can only sign up for the GI Bill if you reenlist.

For those who have eligibility for both NCS and the GI Bill, know that anyone “who receives benefits under the NCS program who also establishes eligibility under chapter 1606 or chapter 30 will have entitlement under Chapter 1606 or Chapter 30 reduced” by the amounts paid via NCS.

How to Apply for the National Call-To-Service Program

Complete VA Form 22-1990N (Application for VA Education Benefits Under the National Call to Service (NCS) Program). To do this you will need to provide your Social Security Number and some supplemental information:

  • Basic information about the school or training facility you want to attend
  • Bank account direct deposit information
  • Education history

The VA typically processes applications in 30 days according to the official site. Your experience may vary. Once the VA has processed your application it will contact you by mail to let you know if more information is needed or if a decision has been made. When you are approved for NCS benefits you will receive an award letter in the mail. If you have been denied, you will also be notified by mail.

It may take as little as 15 minutes to fill out the application. You will need to sign in to complete the form using ID.me, DS Logon, myHealtheVet, or Login.gov.

Cost-of-Living Increases For Montgomery GI Bill, Dependent Education Benefits

If you are attending classes on the Montgomery GI Bill or the VA Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program, you will see an increase in your monthly payments starting in October 2022, thanks to the annual Cost of Living Adjustment or COLA.

COLA changes for the Post 9/11 GI Bill are already in effect, those increases occurred in August 2022.

Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty COLA Increases

Active-duty full-time students using the Montgomery GI Bill may see their monthly payment move up to $2,210. Active duty half-time students will see their rate increase to $1,105 per month.

Montgomery GI Bill rules specify a monthly payment, the amount is determined by the number of classroom hours you carry. Undergraduate attendance may be calculated as follows:

  • 0-2 hours is equal to quarter-time attendance
  • 3-5 hours – is equal to less than half-time attendance
  • 6-8 hours – equal to half-time attendance
  • 9-11 hours is equal to three-quarter time attendance

12 hours or more is considered full-time in most cases. When attending grad school on the Montgomery GI Bill, you are paid based on what your school determines as full or part-time attendance. That means if your school considers six hours of classes per semester or term to be full-time, you are considered a full-time student for Montgomery GI Bill purposes.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) COLA Increases

A full-time Reservist using the Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserve) will see GI Bill monthly payments to go up to $439 in October. Half-time Reservist students could see their monthly payments go up to $219. 

Undergraduate attendance under the MGIB-SR is as follows:

  • 0-2 hours – quarter-time
  • 3-5 hours – less than halftime
  • 6-8 hours – half-time
  • 9-11 hours – three-quarter time

12 hours or more is considered full-time in most cases. Graduate students using the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve are paid based on what your school establishes as a full time commitment. If your school considers six hours of classes per semester or term to be full-time, you are considered a full-time student for Montgomery GI Bill purposes.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program COLA Increases

The VA program called Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program offers up to 36 months in VA education benefits that can be used for a degree or credentials in VA-approved programs.

Full-time students using VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance benefits could get $1,401 a month thanks to the COLA increase. Half-time students may be offered as much as $812 a month. 

Spouses or school-age dependent children of vets who meet any of the criteria listed below may qualify for this program. Qualifying criteria includes, but may not be limited to the following as published by the Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • A veteran who is permanently, totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability;
  • A veteran who died as the result of a service-connected disability
  • A veteran who died with a VA recognized service-connected disability, but not necessarily because of it.
  • A service member missing in action
  • A service member captured in the line of duty.
  • A service member likely to be discharged or released from service for a service-connected disability.

To qualify, dependent children must be between the ages of 18 – 26. You do not qualify for this program if you are serving on active duty, and this benefit is typically not offered after your 31st birthday.

Qualifying military spouses have a ten-year span of time to use these benefits. That clock begins counting down from the time you are declared eligible for the benefit, or 10 years from the death of the veteran.

Education Benefits for Veterans

Military education benefits vary for active duty, veterans, spouses, and dependents. If you have retired or separated from military service you have options that may not be open to other applicants, or you may have benefits that active-duty servicemembers also enjoy but not in quite the same way. What do you need to know about your military education benefits to get started?

Veteran Education Benefits: An Overview

As someone who has retired or separated from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, your options for education assistance may include:

  • Education benefits from the Department Of Veterans Affairs
  • Education benefits from state or local governments
  • Private military education programs and grants

Typically, guides like these start with the best-known programs and work their way down the list to the least well-known options.

If you are recently retired or separated, you may know some of your VA options already thanks to final-out processing briefings and seminars. In this guide, we’ll list some of the more obscure options first to help you quickly find resources you might not have thought of at first.

Private Veteran Education Programs, Grants, and Scholarships

The best-known veteran-friendly agencies such as the DAV, VFW, and American Legion often offer scholarships, grants, or other financial assistance for qualifying veterans.

>> Find scholarships for military, veterans, spouses, and dependents with the CollegeRecon Scholarship Finder!

Some of this assistance may be offered to those with qualifying service-connected medical issues, some may be offered to those who served during specific eras such as the Gulf War or the Vietnam War.

Other assistance may be offered to any qualifying applicant on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of a medical condition, the era of service, etc. Some examples of these privately-funded opportunities for veterans include:

  • AMVETS offers educational assistance for veterans who want to attend an accredited college, university or technical school. You must have no convictions for drug-related offenses and you are required to complete an essay to apply.
  • The American Legion has in the past offered financial assistance to members of the society who are veterans pursuing undergraduate studies at an accredited college or university.
  • The Pat Tillman Foundation offers financial assistance to veterans and active-duty military who can meet both merit-based and eligibility-based criteria. This college education assistance for veterans requires the submission of two written essays in addition to the other criteria.

Other options may be offered by Veteran Service Organizations such as

  • Vietnam Veterans Of America
  • Voluntary Service Overseas
  • Navy Mutual
  • AmVets
  • Blinded Veterans Association
  • Veterans Of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
  • The African American Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Association
  • American Legion

Military Aid Societies

Military aid societies are generally private, non-profit, tax-exempt organizations working on behalf of their members. These societies include tuition assistance and college fund options for qualifying applicants.

Not all programs offer the same options, and not all of them offer financial aid for veterans. Options may change depending on funding issues, mission demands, program changes, or federal regulations. The following are all good examples of relief societies that may offer or have offered veterans financial aid in the past.

This is by no means a comprehensive list–there are too many privately-funding programs to list here. One important resource to use in your search for such programs? Your state-level veterans’ affairs office.

You can find this on your state government’s official site and these pages often list state and local-level education resources for veterans as well as typical pages listing state government services, locations, etc.

State/Local Veteran Education Programs

Every state in America has an official site that lists programs, services, and other help for those who need to deal with the state government. Many cities and municipalities have official sites, too.

These websites may have valuable information about veteran education grants, scholarships, in-state tuition options for veterans attending from out-of-state, and more.

You will typically find these benefits (at the state level) on the official page for that state’s Department of Veterans Affairs (not the federal agency found at VA.gov).

This entity may be known as a Division of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Veterans Affairs, or simply as the Department of Veterans Affairs (again, a state entity and not the federal one). A short sampling of such official sites includes but is definitely not limited to:

Each state will have its own official site and typically has a veterans resources page including any current education benefits or links to those benefits. State benefits vary greatly. Some states are incredibly stingy in their veteran education benefits while others are fairly generous.

Vermont, for example, offers education benefits to members of the National Guard but at press time no other options seem to be available directly from the state. For all others, the state official site (at press time) refers veterans to a third-party private entity, the Vermont Student Assistance Program.

Compare that with the Illinois Veterans Grant which pays for tuition and fees for qualifying applicants who lived in Illinois when they entered military service or who have become state residents since leaving (a time limit for relocation to the state may apply.)

This grant can be used in conjunction with the GI Bill or on its own and may be useful for saving or extending the GI Bill benefit. It’s not the only state-level grant of its kind but your experience may vary depending on which state you live in or entered military service from.

Education benefits From the Department Of Veterans Affairs

For veterans, there are many options to choose from; some choices are made while still serving (Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 are choices some vets have had to make while still serving) and some are options that may be open to you depending on the nature of the education and training you seek.

Not everyone wants a traditional four-year degree; there are options for technical training, pilot training, OJT, apprenticeships, and much more, as we’ll discover below.

  • The GI Bill includes the Post 9/11 and the Montgomery GI Bill.
  • Veteran Readiness And Employment (VR&E) also known as Chapter 31 helps veterans learn about their employment, education, and training options.
  • Educational and career counseling through Chapter 36 benefits include free educational and career counseling if you are leaving active duty.
  • “Other educational assistance” programs offered by the VA.

Montgomery GI Bill Benefits

The Montgomery GI Bill is an option for those who entered active duty after June 30, 1985, and opted into the program. This version of the GI Bill offers 36 months of basic VA education benefits depending on how long you served, the type of education you seek, and the category of your military service. Different lengths of service may qualify for pro-rated Montgomery GI Bill benefits.

The Montgomery GI Bill features no housing stipend, has no ability to transfer the benefit to a spouse or dependent, and is generally more limited than the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Those who qualified for this option were offered the chance to switch to the Post 9/11 version; once a choice has been selected it cannot be undone but many did opt into the Post 9/11 GI Bill instead once the option was available.

The Montgomery GI Bill came in multiple versions including one for active duty and one for Guard/Reserve members. Even though the active duty version is identified as such, a veteran who no longer serves on active duty uses the active duty version of the program; Reservists who have retired or separated use the Reserve component version of the GI Bill.

The Montgomery GI Bill is closed to new applicants; those serving today are enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits

The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides 48 months of education benefits for those who served on or after September 10, 2001. This program includes payment of tuition and fees, a housing stipend paid while you attend classes, and the ability to transfer your GI Bill benefit to a spouse or dependent school-age children. Some of your benefits are paid based on your attendance as a full-time student, half-time student, etc. You apply for these benefits through the VA official site, or in person at any VA regional office

You may qualify for this program if one of the following applies:

  • You served at least 90 days on active duty on or after September 11, 2001;
  • You received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and received an Honorable discharge;
  • You served for at least 30 continuous days and received an Honorable discharge and have a service-connected disability;
  • You’re a dependent applying for transferred VA benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
  • You were in the Reserves and lost education benefits when the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) ended in November 2015-restoration of benefits may be possible.

Some qualify for both the Post 9/11 and Montgomery GI Bill. You are allowed to use only one of these programs for your qualifying period of military service.

GI Bill benefits may expire depending on when you joined. For example, if you retired or separated before January 1 2013 you have 15 years to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you retired or separated on or after January 1 2013 your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits do not expire.

The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Post 9/11 GI Bill includes an option for those with qualifying military service who are at the 100% level for their GI Bill benefit, meaning they served the entire minimum qualifying time on active duty to become eligible for the benefit.

The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to offset the cost of attending an approved private school with tuition above and beyond what the GI Bill program can pay for–the Yellow Ribbon program can help pay for higher out-of-state tuition, too.

Not all schools participate in Yellow Ribbon. You will need to ask your admissions counselor if the school you have selected is eligible and participates. And not everyone qualifies for this program. In general, you must meet one of the following:

  • You served at least 36 months on active duty with an Honorable discharge;
  • You received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged;
  • You served 30 continuous days on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged for a service-connected disability;
  • You’re a dependent transferred benefits;
  • You’re a Fry Scholar;
  • You’re an active-duty service member who qualifies at the 100% level as of August 2022;
  • You are a spouse using transferred GI Bill benefits.

Yellow Ribbon benefits are limited depending on the school; you may find the program is administered at your institution of higher learning on a first-come, first-served basis, and applying early may be best.

Veteran Readiness and Employment (Chapter 31)

Veterans who have a service-connected disability that limits the ability to hold a job or seek employment may qualify for the Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Readiness and Employment program also known as Chapter 31 benefits or VR&E. You can apply for VR&E through the VA official site. Typically this benefit is for veterans but under certain circumstances, you may qualify for VR&E while still on active duty as we’ll examine below.

To qualify for VA VR&E benefits and services, you must not have received a Dishonorable discharge, and you have a VA disability rating of at least 10%.

In some cases you may have a time limit to use this VA benefit program; if you left active duty before January 1 2013 you have 12 years to use VR&E benefits from either your separation date or the date you received your first VA disability rating.

Your VR&E eligibility may qualify for an extension if you have what the VA defines as a “serious employment handicap”

VR&E applicants who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013, do not have a time limit to use VR&E benefits. Furthermore, you may be eligible for VR&E benefits and services while still on active duty if at least one of the following applies to you:

  • You have a 20% or higher pre-discharge VA disability rating known as a memorandum rating and are due to retire or separate;
  • You’re waiting to be discharged because of a service-connected medical issue that happened on active duty.

VR&E Services

You may be entitled to the following VR&E services under the program:

  • A job skills/interests evaluation
  • Professional or vocational counseling for employment
  • Employment services such as job training and resume development
  • Special employer incentives
  • VR&E “job accommodations”
  • On-the-job training
  • Apprenticeships
  • Volunteer or non-paid work experiences
  • Post-secondary education and training
  • Case management
  • Counseling
  • Medical referrals
  • Independent living services

If you’re participating in a VR&E program and you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (you only need a single day of remaining entitlement to qualify for this) you may be offered the GI Bill subsistence rate instead of the Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rate. This is true when you have at least one day of remaining GI Bill entitlement left AND you are still within any applicable GI Bill eligibility period. Expect to be required to “officially choose” the GI Bill subsistence rate to take advantage of this benefit.

Using VR&E benefits does not count against your GI Bill benefits.

You can apply for VR&E benefits in person at a VA office, by calling the VA, or you can use a Veteran Service Organization such as the DAV, AmVets, etc. to help you apply.

Educational and Career Counseling (VA Chapter 36 Benefits)

VA Chapter 36 benefits, also known as Personalized Career Planning and Guidance offer help and resources for veterans who qualify for VA education benefits.

If you have left active duty within the last 12 months you may qualify for career counseling, educational counseling to help you select a school, and readjustment counseling to help you transition from the military to civilian life. You can also get help with your resume and career goals using Chapter 36 benefits.

You can apply for these benefits in person at a VA office, online using VA Form 28-8832, or you can apply online at the VA official site via Login.gov

Once you apply for Chapter 36 benefits, the VA will contact you to set up a meeting with a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor “to find out if you have an employment handicap and if you’re eligible for VR&E benefits and services” according to the official site..

The VA definition of an employment handicap includes conditions where “your service-connected disability limits your ability to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment” that does not make the condition worse and is in line with career goals, skills, etc.

Other VA Educational Assistance

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a variety of other educational assistance including the Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship which can help extend Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits if you are working toward a STEM degree or a teacher’s certification.

There is also a program called Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)  which offers benefits to help you start or continue a high-tech career if you qualify for the GI Bill. There is an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill called the National Call to Service program offering alternative VA education benefits to those who completed boot camp and any required advanced training and then “continued to serve on active duty for 15 months in a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense”.

In addition to that requirement, applicants must also have served an additional enlistment or commission (service commitment times may vary) OR agreed to serve an extra two years in the Selected Reserve on active status.

If you qualify for the National Call To Service Program you may be eligible for ONE of the following benefits:

  • A cash bonus of $5,000,
  • Repayment of a qualifying student loan up to $18,000, or
  • Educational assistance equal to the 3-year monthly rate of the Montgomery GI Bill paid for 12 months, or
  • Educational assistance is up to 50% of the ”less-than-3-year monthly MGIB rate” according to the VA. This is payable for 36 months.

You can apply for these benefits via Login.gov. This is a program administered by the VA on behalf of the Department of Defense.

 

 

 

2022-2023 GI Bill Tuition Rates Out Now!

If you are planning to take courses in the Fall 2022 term, then you need to know how much your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will pay. The 2022-2023 GI Bill rates are the best place to start.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) just released the maximum tuition and fee rates for the upcoming academic year, so check it out.

Increase In GI Bill Max Tuition & Fees

The VA will use the maximum entitlement charge amounts for any training taken under the Post-9/11 GI Bill beginning on or after August 1, 2022. The following rates are effective until July 31, 2023:

Post-9/11 GI Bill Maximum Tuition & Fee Amounts

Type of School Actual Net Cost of Tuition & Fees, Not to Exceed
Public In-State / Resident Charge
Private & Foreign $26,381.37
Flight $15,075.05
Correspondence $12,813.78

Keep in mind, if you are attending a public Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) as a non-resident student, and the tuition is more expensive than the annual cap listed in the table, then you may be eligible for extra payment under the Yellow Ribbon program. The same applies to non-resident students at private IHLs.

Additionally, you may qualify for in-state tuition rates if you live in the state where the school is located. Your formal state of residence does not preclude you from receiving in-state tuition in this situation.

Post-9/11 Entitlement Charge Amount for Tests

Licensing & Certification Tests Entitlement will be prorated based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test relative to the rate of $2,200.96 for one month. The maximum reimbursable amount for licensing and certification tests is $2,000.
National Tests Entitlement will be prorated based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test relative to the rate of $2,200.96 for one month. There is no maximum reimbursable amount for national tests.

Additional Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

Military Housing Allowance (MHA)

Don’t forget, you may be eligible to receive a Monthly Housing Allowance while using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The amount you receive depends on a number of factors specific to you, so the best way to find your housing rate is to use the CollegeRecon BAH Calculator.

Book Stipend

You could receive up to $1,000 for books and supplies each year. The actual amount you receive is based on your enrollment.

Rural Benefit

You may be eligible to receive a one-time $500 payment if you are relocating from a highly rural area, and either:

  1. Physically relocate at least 500 miles to attend school, or
  2. Travel by air to attend school of no other land-based transportation exists.

Plan For Success

Planning is key when it comes to successfully completing your chosen academic program. Knowing how much your benefit will pay allows you to know how far you can go.

Keep in mind, these are just the limits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill payments. It does not factor in any scholarships or grants that you may be able to use.

 

 

 

Lesser-Known GI Bill Benefits

Lesser-Known GI Bill Benefits

  • Entrepreneurship Training
  • Pilot Training
  • Veteran Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)
  • Correspondence Training
  • Foreign Programs
  • Independent and Distance Learning
  • Non-College Degree Programs

Entrepreneurship Training

Want to start a business? Already have your own business? Eligible patrons can use their GI Bill benefits for training to become business owners or entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship training is offered exclusively through the Small Business Administration.

What kind of training is offered?

  • How to access capital
  • Development and exchange of new technologies
  • Improved business planning
  • Improved business strategy
  • Operations
  • Financial management
  • Personnel administration
  • Marketing
  • Export assistance
  • Sales
  • Growth and expansion
  • Management improvement
  • Increased productivity
  • Innovation

Am I Eligible for this Benefit?

Eligible candidates must qualify for education benefits through one of these programs:

Unfortunately, dependents are not available for this entrepreneurship training benefit even if they qualify for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.

Please note that the VA only pays for programs offered by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Individual courses must be specifically approved for VA purposes to use benefits.

I’m eligible and ready to start my business (or improve my existing business); what are the first steps?

To locate course offerings near you or view training opportunities on the web contact the Small Business Development Center directly. On the web at http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/ or by phone at 800-8 ASK SBA. Then contact VA at 888-442-4551 to see what courses are approved for (or can be approved for) VA purposes.

https://gibill.custhelp.va.gov/.  Or by phone at 888- GIBILL-1

Flight Training

Use your VA education benefits to advance your pilot qualifications!

Am I Eligible for this Benefit?

You may be eligible for flight training benefits if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill, and
  • You have a private pilot’s license, and
  • You have a second-class medical certificate valid for second-class privileges (or a first-class medical certificate if you want to pursue the Airline Transport Pilot certificate)

Unfortunately, flight training benefits are not available for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA).

What Flight Training Benefits Are Available?

This depends on a few factors, most notably the VA benefit program being used.

  • Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty – Eligible students receive a pay-back of 60% of the approved fees the flight school charges.
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill- Use of this educational entitlement has many factors to considered including the student’s level of eligibility (i.e. the percent of benefits eligible for based on length of service) and how much entitlement the student has remaining (for school or training). Keep in mind that students can also apply for additional funds to cover tuition and fees above the yearly limit through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program here.

For the Post-9/11 GI Bill, if the student is enrolled in a:

  • degree program that consists of flight training at a public college or university, students receive up to the full in-state cost of tuition and fees (depending on the level of eligibility and remaining entitlement). A monthly housing allowance and money to help buy books and supplies may also be provided!
  • degree program that consists of flight training at a private college or university, students are eligible for the net cost of tuition and fees up to a yearly limit (depending on the level of eligibility and remaining entitlement). A housing allowance and money to help buy books and supplies may also be provided!
  • vocational program at a stand-alone pilot school (Part 141), students are eligible for the net cost of training up to a yearly limit (depending on the level of eligibility and remaining entitlement). Students in these programs are not eligible for a housing allowance or money to help buy books and supplies.

What kinds of flight training can I receive?

Students can earn qualifications for:

  • Rotary wing
  • B747-400
  • Dual engine
  • Flight engineer

Veteran Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)

The VET TEC program is available for students seeking to gain computer experience, whether beginning or advancing their career in a high-technology industry. The VET TEC program matches students with a qualified and approved training provider to help students develop their high-tech skills.

With VET TEC, students can receive tuition for a full-time high-tech training program and money for housing during training (not applicable to those on active duty).

What Types of Training Does VET TEC Cover?

Students can receive training in:

  • Computer software
  • Computer programming
  • Data processing
  • Information science
  • Media applications

Correspondence Training

Correspondence training (coursework completed by mail, online, or by some other device) may be a good option for you if you want to take classes from home and/or if you live far from schools with the desired offerings.

Correspondence classes are offered in a wide variety of interests from Wastewater Management to Creative Writing. Students may find that many correspondence courses are conditions of employment or credentialed courses that will open up a variety of local area job opportunities.

Am I eligible for this benefit?

Veterans and Qualified Dependents are able to use this GI Bill education benefit.

Eligible students will have the full cost of their correspondence classes paid back if using the Post-9/11 GI Bill at an in-state school. If using other GI Bill programs, students will be paid back for 55% of the approved costs.

Foreign programs

If you love living abroad and/or have found the perfect school for overseas, you may be able to use your VA benefits to pay for a foreign school!

Can I attend any foreign school?

Typically, the VA will accept degrees from schools in foreign countries that are similar to degrees granted by accredited U.S. colleges and universities.

Make certain to email to federal.approvals@va.gov to request information about foreign program approval. Check to see if the school and program has already been approved; if not already approved, the school (not the student) can request approval.

Make certain the school and program are approved before registering for classes or you’ll have to pay all costs at the school, including tuition and fees!

Am I eligible for this benefit?

You may be able to use your education benefits if you meet all of these requirements.

  • Student is eligible for (or already receiving) VA educational assistance as a Veteran, service member, reservist, or qualified dependent, and
  • The foreign program is approved by the VA, and
  • The program is at a foreign institute of higher learning where students earn a standard associate degree or higher (or a degree of equal value).

Independent and Distance Learning

Students can use the GI Bill for independent and distance learning online. If students are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits while taking only distance-learning courses, they’ll also receive a housing allowance based on 50% of the national average!

Non-College Degree Programs

Use the GI Bill to pay for a wide variety of training programs including HVAC repair, welding, truck driving, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training, and barber school.

Am I eligible for this benefit?

Students may be eligible for non-college degree education benefits through the GI Bill if they meet both of these requirements:

  • Students qualify for the GI Bill, and
  • Students enroll (or plan to enroll) in a non-degree program at an approved school

This benefit is available for, Veterans, service members, and qualified dependents.

How much money will I get?

The amount of educational funds available depends on several factors including which GI Bill program is being used and what school is  being attended. Students are paid at the end of each month for the hours spent training. In addition, students are given a monthly housing allowance based on the location of the school and up to $83 monthly for books and supplies.

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill: for training offered at non-degree schools, the VA pays the in-state tuition rate and fees up to the national maximum.
  • Other GI Bill programs: the VA pays a monthly rate that depends on the specific non-degree program and student’s length of active service.

 

 

 

How to Switch From Montgomery GI Bill to Post 9/11

From the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill

Have you considered moving from Montgomery GI Bill to Post 911? It it not a complicated process, but there are some things you need to know beforehand.

From MGIB to Post 9/11

To select one benefit program over another, the process is as simple as filling out the Application for VA Education Benefits, or VA 22-1990.

Under Part II, or “Education Benefits Being Applied For”, you’ll see all the current GI Bill programs available. The first box is Chapter 33 – Post 911 GI Bill, and it is this box you must select to begin the transfer.

In the same box, there is a statement indicating that, if you are eligible for more than one GI Bill program, you must read and understand the consequences of your choice.

The Cost of Switching the GI Bill to Post 9/11

Before submitting your VA 22-1990, you must acknowledge the following:

  • You are not permitted to receive more than a total of 48 months of entitlements under two or more of the GI Bill programs.
  • If you elect Chapter 33 (Post 911) in lieu of Chapter 30 (MGIB), the months of entitlement under Chapter 33 will be limited to the number of months of remaining entitlement under Chapter 30 on the effective date of your selection.
  • You will not receive the MGIB “Kicker” under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, unless you were eligible for the kicker at the time you applied, AND you relinquished that benefit for the Chapter 33 program.
  • When you select the effective date of transfer on VA form 22-1990, you must understand that benefits for education and training under Chapter 33 are not payable prior to that date.

So, in a nutshell, you are terminating the MGIB and its benefits in exchange for the Post 911 GI Bill and its benefits.

See Also: 8 Tips for Using the GI Bill

Eligibility for Multiple GI Bill Programs

Every service member is entitled to at least one GI Bill program. However, there are some veterans who are eligible for multiple programs. Those who serve on active duty for a few years and then transition to the reserves are eligible for benefits under the Chapter 30/33 and the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606).

Another example is an active duty service member who served for a period of time before September 11, 2001. If their service continued after that date, then they would be eligible for both the Chapter 30 and the Chapter 33 program.

However, since there is a cap on the duration of education benefits, 48 months, making the switch from one program to another will not extend your benefits. Additionally, you only use one benefit program at a time.

Reasons for Switching

Because there is a cap to the total amount of benefit a student veteran can receive, it may seem that all the GI Bill programs are mostly the same. This isn’t the case, as there are some very distinct differences.

One of the biggest benefits of the Post 911 GI Bill is it grants the ability to transfer the education benefits to a spouse or dependent child. This has been a game changer for many students who may have never been able to afford a college education.

Another big benefit of the Post 911 program is that it also pays out a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to the student, separate from the tuition payments that are sent directly to the school. These extra funds are designed to help pay for housing so students are not compelled to work each semester just to pay rent. It grants a small financial relief that helps them focus on their training.

Montgomery GI Bill to Post 9/11

Regardless of your reasons for switching, the process is not difficult. Just fill out the VA 22-1990, and then apply online. The average time it takes for the VA to process your claim is currently 30 days.

 

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More GI Bill Benefits for Guard and Reservists

The GI Bill Parity Act Will Bring More Benefits to Members of the National Guard and Reserves

Good news for members of the National Guard and the Reserves. On Wednesday, January 12th, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 was passed in the House, 287-135. This was introduced by the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity with the Chair, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA).

Why Is This  Important?

Over the last few years, the National Guard and Reserves have been used at higher than normal levels. They have been called up for COVID-19 issues, protests, national disasters, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the January 6th Insurrection, and more.

Even though they have been called up more often, they do not accrue the same GI Bill benefits as their active duty counterparts. This act would rectify that and make every day in uniform count toward GI Bill benefits. Allowing the National Guard and Reserves to be able to earn benefits from all time served, not just select time.

Supporters of the GI Bill Parity Act

The following organizations support this bill:

  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Student Veterans of America
  • The National Guard Association of the U.S.
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the U.S.
  • Veterans Education Project
  • Reserve Officers Association

“National Guard and Reserve servicemembers have stepped up time and time again to serve our nation when we needed them—especially over the past two years—but right now, they don’t have equitable access to the GI Bill benefits they have earned. If these servicemembers can do their part day in and day out while holding down civilian jobs and squeezing in time to take care of their families, then the least we can do is ensure each day they spend in uniform counts towards their benefits,” said Chairman Takano, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Currently, the National Guard on Title 32 orders won’t count towards GI Bill benefits unless they are in support of a presidentially declared national emergency. Title 10 orders do count.

“Members of the National Guard and Reserve Component have risked their lives on the front lines of this pandemic, administering aid and protecting the Capitol on a training status,” said Veterans Education Project (VEP) Legislative Director Donald Franklin. “These brave men and women are long overdue the benefits befitting their service.”

What’s Next?

This still needs to be passed by the Senate, then go on to be signed by the President. If this is able to go through, it will be able to help out a lot of National Guard and Reserve members earn the benefits that they deserve when they step up to help this country.

 

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Student Veterans Still Get Full GI Bill Benefits with REMOTE Act

REMOTE Act Allows Veteran Students to Still Receive Full GI Bill Benefits

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Congress will extend the GI Bill protections for student veterans that are still required to take remote classes. This will help many veterans who are attending college, and who have no choice but to still be remote.

Before the pandemic, veteran students who went to school remotely received half of the housing benefit. In 2020, they allowed veteran students who had to go to school remotely to receive the full amount. This helped fill in the financial gap when students who were normally in school traditionally needed to start schooling online. This was set to expire on December 21st.

On December 8th, The U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-CA) Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions (REMOTE) act. This was introduced in October with Rep. David Trone (D-MD) and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairmen Mark Takano (D-CA). On December 15th, the act was passed by the Senate and is now awaiting the signature by the President.

This will extend these benefits from expiring from December 21st to June of 2022.

“At a time when we are trying to keep veterans housed and encouraging them to pursue higher education, the last thing we can afford is to let these protections expire and risk derailing their studies or, even worse, forcing them out of their homes. I’m encouraged to see our bill pass the House today to protect student veterans’ benefits and I’m optimistic we can get it to President Biden’s desk soon.” – Rep. Levin.

The American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America (DAV), National Association of Veterans Program Administrators (NAVPA), Veterans Education Success (VES), as well as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have endorsed this legislation.

This will be a good thing for student veterans who are attending school remotely. Many have been concerned about this upcoming December expiration date on the extra GI Bill benefits that they have been receiving.

 

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VA Approved Flight Training: An Overview

Looking at VA Approved Flight Training

You probably already know that your VA education benefits can help pay for flight training. However, you may not have any details about how it all works. For example, you may be wondering,

Can the GI Bill be used to pay for flight training?

Are there VA approved flight schools?

What benefits are included for flight training through VA schools?

If you’ve asked any of these questions and are interested in getting your commercial pilot license, then read on to discover some programs available and how to apply your VA education benefits to pay for training.

VA Approved Flight Training

You can use your GI Bill to pay for flight training, provided you meet certain requirements. 

All of these must be true to qualify:

  • You must qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill, and
  • You must have a private pilot’s license, and
  • Have a second-class medical certificate valid for second-class privileges – or a first-class medical certificate if you want to get the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate

Please note, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program can not be used to pay for flight training. However, the Fry Scholarship can pay for flight training.

Available Benefits Based on Program

There are some differences between the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill when it comes to available benefits.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

You will be reimbursed for 60% of the approved fees that may be charged by your flight school.

Additionally, your MGIB entitlement will be charged at the rate of one (1) month for each $2,150 paid. So, hypothetically, if you are in flight training and you have 36 months of MGIB entitlement remaining, then the max amount you can receive for that training is $77,400. 

Post-9/11 GI Bill

If you’re using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for flight training, the payment you receive depends on a few factors:

  1. You level of eligibility, which is a percentage based on how long you served, and
  2. How much entitlement you have left for training, and
  3. The type of school and program in which you’re enrolled.

Here are some details regarding how the program you attend determines the benefits available. If you are enrolled in:

  • A degree program that contains flight training at a public college or university. The VA will pay for up to the full in-state tuition and fees. You may also get a monthly housing allowance and money to cover books and supplies.
  • A degree program that contains flight training at a private college or university. The VA will pay for the “net cost of tuition and fees” up to a yearly limit. The limit depends on your level of eligibility and the amount of benefit remaining. A housing allowance and money for books are available, as is the ability to use the Yellow Ribbon Program at participating schools.
  • A vocational program at a stand-alone Part 141 pilot school. The VA pays for the net cost of training up to a yearly limit. In this option, there is no housing allowance available, nor is there extra money for books and supplies.

Keep in mind, these requirements largely apply to stand-alone schools that are not colleges and universities.

Regardless of which school you plan to attend, your VA education benefits can help pay for the following flight qualifications:

  • Rotary wing
  • B747-400
  • Dual Engine
  • Flight Engineer

Applying for VA Education Benefits

To get started on the path to your commercial pilot license, you will need to apply for VA education benefits. There are multiple ways to do this:

  1. Apply Online! Follow the link to the GI BIll application page, fill out a short questionnaire, and get the process started.
  2. Apply by Mail. Call 888.442.4551, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, and request an application be sent to you through the mail. Once you fill it out, mail it to the VA regional claims processing office that is located in the same region as your school. Here’s a list of regional claims processing offices to explore.
  3. Apply In Person. If you are able, go to a VA regional office to have a VA employee help you fill out an application for benefits. Here’s a list of VA regional offices near you. You can also work with your school’s certifying official for help with the application.

As of right now, it takes the VA an average of 30 days to make a decision regarding your education benefits. So, keep that in mind when enrolling in a flight program.

Colleges & Universities with VA Approved Flight Training

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle is a world-class, private university that offers degree programs for veteran and military students. 

Additionally, Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, FL and Prescott, AZ campuses offer Bachelor’s degrees in Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas. So, students have the opportunity to get a degree and obtain a commercial pilot’s license at Embry-Riddle University.

Embry-Riddle offers two ground schools: Commercial Pilot Fixed Wing and Private Pilot Fixed Wing. The ERAU campuses for which these programs apply are located in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona.

Embry-Riddle also participates in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, and the university offers college credit for military experience.

Colorado Northwestern Community College

Colorado Northwestern Community College is a public, 2-year school located in Rangely, Colorado. Colorado Northwestern does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, but they are approved for Tuition Assistance, and they have GI Bill approved programs.

Additionally, CNCC offers an associate degree program that covers the Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas.

University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College

The University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College is a public two-year college that offers technical programs, university transfer programs, and other specialized programs serving central Arkansas.

This school also offers an associate’s degree program covering the Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas.

The Pulaski Technical College does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, however they are approved for Tuition Assistance, and they offer credit for military service.

Texas State Technical College – Waco

The Texas State Technical College is a military- and veteran-focused technical college that offers a vast array of two-year degree programs.

One of them happens to cover the commercial and professional pilot subject areas. While TSTC does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the school does offer GI Bill approved programs. It also offers college credit for military experience, which is helpful for service members in transition.

Central Texas College – Main Campus

The main campus of Central Texas College is a two-year public college located in Killeen, Texas.

The CTC main campus offers a professional and commercial pilots program that can lead students to the acquisition of their professional pilot’s license.

Central Texas College participates in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, as well as the Tuition Assistance Program.

Additionally, eligible military-affiliated students can use the Texas Hazlewood Act, which is a benefit from the state of Texas that provides qualified veterans, spouses, and dependent children with up to 150 credit hours of tuition exemption.

More Colleges & Universities with Flight Training

The following schools also offer some form of flight training. This list has been populated from CollegeRecon’s School Finder searching by the “Aviation” subject area.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

University of North Dakota

Cochise Community College

Sacramento City College

Mt. San Antonio College

Aims Community College

Middle Georgia State University

Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell

Community College of Beaver County

Palo Alto College

Mountain View College

Letourneau University – Longview

Green River College

Lewis University

California Baptist University

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Big Bend Community College

Honolulu Community College

Vincennes University

Lansing Community College

Orange Coast College

Indian Hills Community College

Southwestern Illinois College

Guilford Technical Community College

Sinclair Community College

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Portland Community College

Lane Community College

Salt Lake Community College

Cypress College

Mercer County Community College

Wallace State Community College

Yavapai College

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Palomar College

Metropolitan State University of Denver

St. Petersburg College – Clearwater

Palm Beach State College

Polk State College

Miami-Dade College

Broward College

Jacksonville University

University of Dubuque

Iowa Central Community College

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Lewis and Clark Community College

Kishwaukee College

Hutchinson Community College

Eastern Kentucky University

Louisiana Tech University Ruston

North Shore Community College

Eastern Michigan University

Western Michigan University

Jackson College

Northwestern Michigan College

Oakland Community College

Lake Superior College

Inver Hills Community College

University of Central Missouri

Saint Louis University

Delta State University

Rocky Mountain College

Lenoir Community College

Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute

County College of Morris

San Juan College

College of Southern Nevada

Dutchess Community College

Jamestown Community College

Northern Oklahoma College

Central Oregon Community College

Treasure Valley Community College

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Luzerne County Community College

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

San Jacinto Community College

Midland College

Tarleton State University

Baylor University

Central Washington University

Farmingdale State College

Utah State University – Logan

Indiana State University

Westminster College – Utah

Utah Valley University

Vermont Technical College – Randolph Center

Clover Park Technical College

Walla Walla University

Gateway Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College

Casper College

Quincy University

 

The colleges and universities listed above have some form of flight training curriculum. Be advised, they may not all be the full curriculum, where some schools may only offer rotary wing training, while others only offer fixed wing. Check with the school first to verify that the training you’re looking for is available.

Conclusion

Our transportation infrastructure depends upon those who have pilots licenses. Air travel is currently the fastest form of transportation used by businesses to move people and products around the world. 

According to the Department of Labor, the median income for airline and commercial pilots was over $130,000 in 2020. Furthermore, the job outlook is expected to grow at 13% until 2030, which is faster than the national average.

If you’ve ever considered becoming a pilot, now is a great time to get that training. Find a school that suits your needs, and apply the GI Bill benefits to secure your future!

(Image courtesy of SFIO CRACHO via Shutterstock)

 

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Debating the 90/10 Rule in Veteran Education

Three Sides of Two Coins: The 90/10 Dilemma

In October, 2021, the Department of Education (DoE) began rewriting regulations that could negatively impact for-profit schools. It is possible that the DoE could create tighter restrictions by imposing limitations on what for-profit schools can count as “non-federal revenue sources”. These limitations, both current and projected, form the basis of the 90/10 Rule.

The 90/10 Rule

Conceptually, the rule is simple: for-profit schools can receive no more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal “Title IX” student aid programs. 

The inverse of that statement is: for profit schools are expected to make at least 10 percent of their revenue from other than federal sources.

Currently, the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance programs do not count as federal student aid classified by Title IX definitions. Which means that any VA benefits received by any school do not count against the 90% limit on federal funding. They count towards the 10% of non-federally funded revenue.

However, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 plans to expand those definitions to include ALL federal education benefit programs, like those used by military and veteran students. The law is set to take effect in 2023.

Debating the 90/10 Rule

Advocates for this change, which includes some veterans’ organizations, are excited that the “90/10 loophole” will be closed by congressional action. The “loophole”, to which it is commonly referred, alludes to the predatory practice of some for-profit institutions who heavily incentivise the recruitment of military and veteran students.

This predation on veteran students does not seem to be isolated. Some states like Maryland have passed their own state-level limitations on for-profit schools in response to these problems. Maryland’s new education law will also take effect in 2023.

Organizations like Veterans Education Success have taken a strong stance against for-profit institutions, claiming that the 90/10 Rule “gives for-profit colleges an incentive to see service members as nothing more than dollar signs in uniform”. 

The Veterans Education Success also released an article documenting the findings by the Department of Education that for-profit colleges used the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance programs to “skirt the 90/10 regulation”. You can find the article here: New Analysis Finds Many For-Profit Colleges Skirt Federal Funding Limits (Dec. 2016).

However, critics of the legislation, to include the Veterans Education Project, are speaking out about what they consider an unfair targeting of for-profit institutions.

The Opposition to the 90/10 Rule’s Existence

The Veterans Education Project published a punchy response, titled Collateral Damage, in which the VEP decried the 90/10 rule as outdated. It is a good title and one that advertises their opposition well.

The rationale for the policy is that a worthwhile educational provider should be able to attract other sources of revenue beyond federal grants and loans, and that students should be willing to put some of their own money toward their education.

The VEP refers to the notion of a student or family contribution as having “skin in the game”, which, in my opinion, has got to be the most-repeated phrase threaded throughout their 23-page response to the 90/10 Rule. 

Even so, one of their most concise arguments, and one that makes a lot of sense, highlights the inconsistencies between the 90/10 Rule and other federal rules. The meat of their argument revolves around the use of the Student Aid Index, a new name coming in 2022 for the current Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The EFC is calculated for federal aid by projecting the amount of money the student or the student’s family can contribute to higher education. The VEP cites the Department of Education data indicating that 40% of undergraduate students have an EFC of $0. 

This means that if a student can’t contribute any money toward their education, and is then required to take out federal funding, then the for-profit schools must charge a higher price for education to ensure that the federal loans only account for 90% of the total revenue.

When framed in that manner, the “skin in the game” paradigm makes little sense. However, it is all about framing and rhetoric, as both advocates and opponents to the 90/10 Rule argue for what they think is best for the student.

A History of Best Intentions

Land-Grant College Act of 1862

Federal involvement in education can be traced back to the 19th century with the Land-Grant College Act of 1862. Also known as the Morrill Act, this legislation provided federal land grants to states in order to finance the establishment of colleges.

The Morrill Act granted 30,000 acres of land to each state for each congressional seat it possessed. Some states sold the land to start schools, while others gave the money to existing colleges to create agriculture and mechanic (A&M) schools.

As an interesting note, all land-grant schools were required to have military training as part of their curriculum, which led to the formation of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944

In June, 1944, President Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act which gave WWII veterans money for college, unemployment insurance, and housing. It is the first instance of federal money being given for the purposes of financing higher education.

Since the establishment of the GI Bill of Rights in 1944, the possibility of making access to college more equitable has gained tremendous attention. The reasoning, it is supposed, is that if the federal government can grant college money to veterans, then why can’t it do the same for lower income students.

The Growing Beast of Financial Aid

In 1958, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act which gave low-interest loans to college students. If, after graduating, students became teachers, then their loan debts were cancelled.

In 1972, legislators determined that funding aid directly to the student, rather than to the colleges and universities, was the best way to make higher education more accessible to low income families.

This is also the year that the legislative verbiage changed from “higher education” to the more inclusive “postsecondary education”. The goal was to highlight that there were other options available besides the full-time, four-year college experience.

As it relates to the 90/10 Rule debate, it was also in 1972 that for-profit schools, also called proprietary schools, were granted full rights to participate in the Title IX programs.

The Proliferation of Education Profiteering

From a business standpoint, it is not surprising that for-profit institutions are responsive to policies impacting federal student aid. Their livelihood depends on it.

From the early 1970s and throughout the 1980s and 1990’s, the for-profit industry exploded as a result of their inclusion in federal programs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Hundreds of for-profit schools emerged, many in low-income metropolitan areas. 

These schools not only offered programs in business, but they also brought other vital training that would feed employment opportunities to those disadvantaged students. Programs in welding, mechanics, truck driving, and other trades certainly helped keep some people away from poverty.

So, what’s the big deal?

As in every business industry, there were some for-profit schools that abused the federal aid programs, which obviously prompted a legislative response. As a result of this bad publicity and congressional intervention, the for-profit industry shrank considerably.

But that didn’t eliminate the problem. It just eliminated the number of players in the education game that provide learning opportunities to students around the country. This, on its face, is the foundation of VEP’s objection to the 90/10 rule. 

They argue that most for-profit schools offer legitimate learning opportunities, which is true. The VEP also argues that the instruction received at for-profit schools, which ties directly to student outcomes, is comparable to public and private colleges and universities that are not proprietary in nature.

Another part of the VEP’s argument is rightfully focused on the provable outcomes faced by students at these public and private universities. Not every student that starts a program finishes it. Not every student that graduates goes on to make a middle-class income. Many do, but not all. 

So, by comparing the outcomes between both the for-profit schools and the gargantuan non-profit university systems around the country, the VEP has created the image of equal-footing between proprietary schools and every other school.

But are they equal?

All schools that remain eligible to receive VA benefits on behalf of their veteran students must adhere to rigid protocols and regulations. There is now this idea that for-profit institutions are being unfairly targeted for simply being “for-profit”. When you read the VEP’s rebuttal of the 90/10 Rule, you get the sense that they stopped just short of labeling the current legislation as “prejudicial”.

In a sense, all legislation is prejudicial, as it judges some things to be good and others to be bad. It accepts certain social and universal behaviors, and it rejects others. So, the legislation that places limitations on for-profit schools should not be seen as unfairly targeting proprietary institutions, despite what the VEP says.

Legislation changes, which is why they wrote Collateral Damage. They have every right to be concerned, but so does the government.

A Different Perspective

If you take a satellite view of the situation, here’s what it looks like to me. The federal government, through taxation and legislation, funds the federal student aid programs that make up a hefty portion of the annual budget.

This means that the taxpayers are the ones who ultimately fund the education grants and loans issued by the federal government. The money doesn’t care if it ends up in the vaults of a non-profit or the coffers of a for-profit school. The distinction, and the reason for federal intervention on behalf of the taxpayer, lies in the category in which each school falls.

When federal funding is granted to students and used at non-profit institutions, there is an understanding that the school brings value to the outcome of the student’s life, even if they fail. Even if they do not make a billion dollars over the course of their life. These institutions are not-for-profit, even if they do in fact make a profit. It’s how they’re classified.

Now, when federal funding, or taxpayer funding, is granted to a student and used at a for-profit institution, there is the understanding that the school is a business first, and an institute of higher learning second. When student outcomes, like graduating and making decent money, are less than what was advertised, then there is a consumer concern. 

For-profit schools are run like a business, because they are, in fact, businesses. And yet, they are businesses that draw most of their revenue from the federal government through student aid. In essence, taxpayer funding is paying for a large majority of the revenue received by for-profit schools.

Because of this, it seems to weaken the notion that for-profit schools should be somehow protected from the forces of the market. They are businesses, so shouldn’t they live and die based on the market’s desire for their products?

The answer should be “yes”.

These proprietary institutions should want their education services to be desirable enough to attract consumers of all kinds, not just the veterans. But, since many for-profit schools have tied their very existence to programs like the GI Bill, they are in danger of closing if they can not update their policies before the changes take effect.

Countdown to 2023

It must be known that I am not for or against proprietary schools. I think they have a place in society and educate thousands of students every year. In fact, in today’s terms, wouldn’t Plato’s Academy be considered for-profit?

The fundamental flaw that I see in the argument against the 90/10 Rule is that for-profit institutions want more than anything to have the protections of their non-profit counterparts. This is understandable, but all of their problems exist at a legal level.

No one forced these proprietary schools to organize and register themselves as “for-profit”. It was an entrepreneurial drive that founded most proprietary schools. I will also concede, though, that forming a nonprofit college or university is much harder to do. Which means that the decision to become a for-profit institution was done with the knowledge that they will operate both in the realms of business and education for the duration of their existence.

Students First

Ultimately, it’s about what is best for the student. Whether those students are veterans, come from homes below the poverty line, or even if they hail from other countries, no one wants to have a poor education. 

To my mind, education is one of the most valuable investments anyone can make in their lives. I believe that an educated citizenry is the foundation of a free society. Knowledge should be available for everyone.

It is foolish, however, to think that education will cause everyone to agree on everything. Humans have disagreed on most things for as long as we’ve walked this planet. But education does grant the freedom to think differently, and even dissent from what is popular at the time.

This extends to the 90/10 debate. I believe that both sides are arguing for what’s best, both for their students and, as it directly ties to their livelihood, their schools. I don’t want to see good schools go under because of a whimsical legislative change. But I also don’t want to see bad schools continue to dupe students and taxpayers.

This debate is sure to heat up as we draw closer to the deadline. In 2022, there will certainly be significant developments as the Department of Education rewrites the rules for federal student aid.

Make sure you follow CollegeRecon and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about the changes ahead!

(Image courtesy of arka38 via Shutterstock)

 

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Survivors & Dependents VA Education Benefits

VA Education Benefits for Survivors & Dependents

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides education benefits to dependents and survivors of our nation’s heroes.

The Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, also known as Chapter 35 Benefits, can be used to pay for college, vocational schools, certification tests, and apprenticeships, among other things.

Eligibility for Chapter 35 Education Benefits

You may be eligible for Chapter 35 benefits if you are the spouse or child of a service member who meets any of the following criteria.

The service member:

  • Died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001
  • Is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Was detained by force while in the line of duty by a foreign government or power
  • Is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability.

Additionally, you may be eligible for VA education benefits under Chapter 35 if you’re the child or spouse of a Veteran and one of the following items is true.

The Veteran:

  • Is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability
  • Died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability

For the Child of a Veteran or Service Member

The following information applies of you are the child of a Veteran or Service Member described above:

  • You can receive benefits between the ages of 18 and 26, but there are exceptions.
  • You can be either married or unmarried.
  • If you’re over 18 and using DEA, you can NOT get Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA at the same time.
  • If you join the military, you cannot use this benefit while on active duty.
  • When using the benefit after leaving the service, you must not have a dishonorable discharge.
  • While military service can extend your eligibility for this benefit, the increase does not extend past your 31st birthday.

For the Spouse of a Veteran or Service Member

The following information applies if you are the spouse of a Veteran or service member described above.

  • Your benefits start on the date of your determined eligibility, or on the date of the Veteran’s death. The benefits last 10 years.
  • If the VA rated the Veteran as “permanently and totally disabled”, with an effective date that is years after the Veteran’s discharge, you will qualify for benefits for 20 years from the effective date.
  • If the service member died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
  • You can get both DIC and DEA benefits simultaneously.

Moreover, if you are a dependent or spouse who does NOT meet the above criteria, there may still be other VA education benefits you could receive, especially if the service member transferred any portion of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to you.

RELATED: New Law Guarantees In-State Tuition for Survivors & Dependents

Chapter 35 Benefit Details

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, some great benefits may be applicable to your education situation. You stand to receive any of the following benefits:

  1. Education and training
  2. Money for tuition
  3. A housing stipend
  4. Money for books and supplies

The VA will send you a monthly payment that can help cover the costs associated with your education. This can include college courses, career training, education counseling, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

In most cases, you can receive these education benefits for up to 36 months.

Applying for Chapter 35 VA Benefits

There are two GI Bill programs that offer assistance to survivors and dependents of Veterans. For both of them you can Apply Online, or fill out a Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits (VA Form 22-5490) and mail it to the VA regional office where you want to go to school.

Find a VA Regional Office near your school.

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

The Fry Scholarship is for children and spouses of:

  • Active-duty service members who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, or
  • Members of the Selected Reserve who died from a service-connected disability on or after September 11, 2001

The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program

The DEA program offers education and training to eligible dependents of Veterans who:

  • Are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or
  • Died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition

You may qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and the DEA program, but you can only use one of them. Once you decide which to use, you can’t change to the other program.

Comparing the DEA to the Fry Scholarship

 

DEA Program Fry Scholarship
How are payments made?

The benefit payment is sent directly to the student at the most current rate. Currently, the monthly payment for full-time payment is $1,265.

How are payments made?

Tuition and fees are paid directly to the school, which covers full in-state tuition and up to $25,162.14 per year at private or foreign schools.

The monies for books and supplies are paid directly to the student, up to $1,000 per year.

The monthly housing allowance is paid directly to the student at the local Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate for an E-5 with dependents. Online students get half the national BAH average.

Duration of Benefits for Spouses:

20 years from the service members date of death if they died on active duty. Or 10 years from the date of qualification after the Veteran passes.

Duration of Benefits for Spouses:

There is no time limit to use these benefits, but they will lose them if they remarry.

Duration of Benefits for Children:

A child may use the benefits between the ages of 18 and 26.

Duration of Benefits for Children:

A child who becomes eligible on or after January 1, 2013 has no time limit to use the benefits.

MAX months of Benefits? 

45 months of the first use was before August 1, 2018. 

36 months if the first use of benefits was after August 1, 2018.

MAX months of Benefits?

36 months.

Spouse Eligible for DIC and Education Benefits?

Yes.

Spouse Eligible for DIC and Education Benefits?

Yes.

Programs Covered:
  • College, business, technical, or vocational programs
  • Certification tests
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Work Study
Programs Covered:
  • College, business, technical, or vocational programs
  • Certification tests
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training
  • Tutorial Assistance
  • Work Study
  • Vocational Flight Training

Additionally, it is worth noting that only the Fry Scholarship can be used to pay for Flight Training.

Next Steps for Survivors and Dependents

After the loss of your Veteran or service member, your life will never be the same. You’ve endured a tragedy that few can comprehend.

Even so, to honor your loved one, take full advantage of the educational assistance available to you as a surviving spouse or child through the VA’s Chapter 35 benefits.

Your life can and will go on. Apply for Chapter 35 Benefits today!

(Image courtesy of David Kay via Shutterstock)

 

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New Law Guarantees In-State Tuition for Survivors & Dependents

On November 30, 2021, President Biden signed into law legislation that nearly guarantees in-state tuition rates for individuals using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program.

Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act of 2021 (SB 1095)

This law requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disapprove courses at institutions of higher learning that charge a higher rate of tuition and fees than those in-state rates for individuals using the Survivors’ and Dependents Educational Assistance program.

Many colleges and universities have adopted policies granting active service members in-state tuition rates while stationed in various states. This law ensures that those survivors and dependents receiving educational assistance will receive the same benefit.

However, instead of waiting for each state to pass its own version of the law, this legislation directs the VA to disapprove courses at approved institutions who are still charging out-of-state tuition rates to survivors.

What happens when a course is disapproved by the VA?

That’s an excellent question, but the text of the bill does not indicate what will happen if a course required for a program is disapproved.

The implication is that the school will be denied funding for the courses until it charges the correct tuition rate. At which point, it is assumed that the VA will approve the courses.

Even so, there is still time to figure all that out. As of this writing, the VA hasn’t responded to our emails. However, these changes will apply to academic periods that begin on or after August 1, 2022.

So, hopefully we’ll hear something from the VA before that.

Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35)

This program helps pay for school and job training for approved participants. It applies to children or a spouse of a Veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has disabilities.

You may be eligible for Chapter 35 benefits if at least one of the following is true. The Veteran or service member:

  • Is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability
  • Died while on active duty, or as a result of a service-connected disability
  • Is missing in action (MIA) or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Was forcibly detained in the line of duty by a foreign entity
  • Is hospitalized for a service-connected disability that is permanent and total

Find out more about the eligibility requirements for spouses and dependent children of Veterans or service members who wish to use Chapter 35 assistance.

Next Steps for Using Chapter 35 Under the New Law

If you are eligible for Chapter 35 benefits and you plan to use them on or after August 1, 2022, make sure that you understand the in-state tuition rates for your institution.

You must be aware that not all schools may be tracking these changes, although they should be. If you’re still being charged out-of-state tuition rates after August 2022, let your School Certifying Official know. 

A course disapproval may impact your graduation timeline, but you should take full advantage of in-state tuition rates.

(Image courtesy of Andrey Popov via Shutterstock)

 

Find Scholarships and more for Military and Veterans

 

 

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FTC Puts For-Profit Schools on Notice

For-profit schools often target student veterans using deceptive marketing and administrative schemes.

These predatory schools are lured by the education benefits carried by most student veterans. To them, veterans using their GI Bill benefits are easy money.

FTC Issues Warning to For-Profit Colleges

In a Federal Trade Commission press release, the FTC announced that it is stepping up its efforts to “stop shady practices on campus.”

In doing so, the FTC will issue a Notice of Penalty Offenses to the largest 70 for-profit colleges. These notices are aimed at the false promises made by the colleges concerning job prospects and potential earnings their graduates have.

Violators of these penalty offenses will face severe financial penalties.

“For too long, unscrupulous for-profit schools have preyed on students with impunity, facing no penalties when they defraud their students and drive them into debt,” said FTC chair Lina M. Khan. “The FTC is resurrecting a dormant authority to deter wrongdoing and hold accountable bad actors who abuse students and taxpayers.”

 

Bad Actors Held Accountable

One example of these crackdowns is a man who was recently sentenced to 19 ½ years in prison for running a sham HVAC trade school in Texas.

As reported by MarketWatch in late September, Jonathan Dean Davis “opened” an HVAC school in 2013 and defrauded Veterans of $72 million in GI Bill benefits. He used the money to buy a mansion, a Lamborghini, and a Ferrari.

Another recent occurrence happened when the University of Phoenix agreed to pay $191 million for using deceptive ads that falsely portrayed its connections to companies like AT&T, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Twitter. Students were led to believe that attending the UOP could land them jobs with these tech giants.

Then there’s DeVry University, who paid $100 million to settle charges that it misrepresented the employment and salary prospects for its graduates.

In 2020, College Recon reported that Maryland was the first state to protect veterans from for-profit colleges. Using legislation, the Maryland General Assembly removed “any incentive for an educational institution operating in Maryland to employ deceptive practices that defraud veterans.”

 

Help For Veteran Students

There are tools available to service members, Veterans, and all students to blow the whistle on bad actors.

If a student has a federal student loan and feels like the school misled them or broke the law, they can apply for loan forgiveness through the Department of Education. Using the DoE’s Borrower Defense to Repayment procedures, which could discharge some or all of your federal student loan debt.

Service members should talk with their Personal Financial Managers to get help with college related financial issues. These counselors are usually part of the following organizations:

  • Airman & Family Readiness Center
  • Army Community Service
  • Fleet and Family Support Center
  • Marine Corps Community Services

In addition, many of these counselors can help with matters relating to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Veterans can and should contact the VA’s GI Bill Hotline (888.442.4551) to discuss questions or concerns with their school.

 

Know Before You Go

Before enrolling in any program at any school, for-profit or not, you should gather as much information as you can. 

The Department of Education offers the College Scorecard and the College Navigator tools.

The Federal Trade Commission hosts a Military Consumer website that offers advice on finding and paying for school.

And of course, College Recon offers a College Discovery Platform where you can find School Search and Scholarship Finder tools. 

Using College Recon’s Search Tool, you can narrow your search by filtering for schools that accept Tuition Assistance or are Yellow Ribbon schools. The Scholarship Finder can help service members, veterans, spouses, and military dependents find money for college.

Make these great tools a part of your quest for higher education and avoid predatory for-profit schools.

 

List of Schools Issued FTC Warnings

  • Academy of Art University Foundation
  • Alliant International University, Inc.
  • American Career College, Inc.
  • American Intercontinental University System, Inc. d/b/a American Intercontinental University
  • American Public University System, Inc.
  • American University of Antigua Inc. d/b/a American University of Antigua College of Medicine
  • American University of the Caribbean, Inc.
  • Asa College, Inc.
  • Aspen University, Inc.
  • Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
  • Aveda Institute Inc.
  • Technical Education Services d/b/a Aviation Institute of Maintenance
  • Berkeley College Foundation, Inc. d/b/a Berkeley College
  • Bryant & Stratton Business Institute, Inc. d/b/a Bryant & Stratton College
  • Capella University, LLC
  • Carrington College, Inc.
  • Chamberlain University LLC
  • Charter College LLC
  • Colorado Technical University, Inc.
  • Columbia Southern University, Inc.
  • Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.
  • DeVry University, Inc.
  • ECPI University LLC
  • Empire Beauty School
  • Empowerment Schools-Healthcare, Limited d/b/a The College of Health Care Professions
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
  • Florida Career Institute, Inc. d/b/a Florida Career College
  • Florida National University, Inc.
  • Fortis Colleges & Institutes
  • Full Sail, LLC d/b/a Full Sail University
  • Galen Health Institutes, Inc. d/b/a Galen College of Nursing
  • Grand Canyon University, Inc.
  • Grantham University, Inc.
  • Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts, LLC
  • Jersey College, Inc.
  • Lincoln Technical Institute, Inc
  • Lincoln College of Technology
  • Los Angeles Film School, LLC
  • Mech-Tech College LLC
  • Milan Institute
  • Miller-Motte College
  • Monroe College, Ltd.
  • MyComputerCareer.edu
  • New York Film Academy Ltd.
  • NUC University
  • Paul Mitchell Advanced Education LLC d/b/a Paul Mitchell Schools
  • Post University, Inc.
  • Rasmussen College, LLC d/b/a Rasmussen University
  • Rocky Vista University, LLC
  • Ross Education, LLC d/b/a Ross Medical Education Center
  • Ross University School of Medicine
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • San Joaquin Valley College, Inc.
  • School of Visual Arts, LLC
  • South College
  • Southern Careers Institute
  • St. George’s University, School of Medicine, Inc.
  • Strayer University, LLC
  • The Sullivan University System, Inc. d/b/a Sullivan University
  • The University of Phoenix, Inc.
  • Tulsa Welding School
  • United Education Institute
  • Unitek College NCP, LLC
  • Universal Technical Institute, Inc.
  • University of St. Augustine for Heath Sciences, LLC
  • Vista College, LP
  • Vocational Training Institutes, Inc. d/b/a Pima Medical Institute
  • Walden University, LLC
  • Waldorf University
  • West Coast University, Inc.

(Image courtesy of andre7346rf via 123rf.com)

 

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Post 9/11 GI Bill Recipients Must Verify Enrollment

Post 9/11 GI Bill Recipients Can Verify Their Courses Via Text

With the new 2021-2022 school year, there has been a change with the verification process for those who are receiving the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Those who are receiving Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and/or Kicker payments will need to verify their enrollment in order to continue to receive payments. They will need to verify that they have remained enrolled in their courses or training each month. This won’t be a one-time verification.

See Also: VA GI Bill Upgrade Makes Life Easier

The New Verification Process

This requirement is only for those receiving the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and doesn’t affect programs such as VET TEC, DEA, VEAP, or the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship. Those who are receiving MGIB (Montgomery GI Bill) have already been required to verify.

Those going to a Non-College degree (NCD) facility will need to have already started doing this, as of August 1st. All other Post 9/11 GI Bill students will need to start this later this year.

Opt-in for Text Verification

The verification process will be relatively easy, as you can do so via text message. If you’ve opted to receive text verification, then you will receive texts from the number “44354“.

To opt in, students with a US-based mobile number should receive a text message informing them that they’ve been registered for enrollment verification. This happens after you’ve enrolled in an approved program. Within a day or two after that first text message, students will again receive a text with the following message:

“Post-9/11 GI Bill housing and kicker payments now require monthly enrollment verification. Would you like to submit yours via text? Please reply YES or NO.”

If you choose to opt-in, reply with YES. Keep in mind that the message link will expire after 14 days.

Using Text Verification

Once you’ve opted in to receive verification text messages, you will receive monthly messages from the VA (44354). The message will be:

“Did you remain enrolled in your courses in MONTH YEAR as certified? Please reply YES or NO. If you have dropped all your courses, you must reply NO.”

If you do not respond within six (6) days, the message will expire. If that happens, you must call the Education Call Center at 1.888.GIBILL.1 (1.888.442.4551) to verify your enrollment. If you are overseas, you will need to call 001-918-781-5678 to verify enrollment.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) explains the verification process in more detail via their VA Verification Enrollment infographic.

RELATED: 8 Tips for Using the GI Bill

Opt-in for Email Verification

If you opted out of text message verification, you will automatically be enrolled in email verification using the email address on file with the VA.

You will receive verification emails from the address “do-not-reply@notifications.va.gov” with the subject line “Confirmation: You’ve been enrolled into VA’s email verification!”

Using Email Verification

On the last day of each month, you will receive an email with the subject line: “Action Required: Verify Your Monthly Enrollment”. Within that email, select “Yes, my enrollment is the same” to verify your enrollment.

You will then be taken to a confirmation page thanking you for verifying. A response is required within 14 days, after which time the link will expire. If that occurs, you must call the Education Call Center to complete enrollment verification.

Telephone Verification

If you are unable to receive text messages or emails to complete your verification, call the Education Call Center (1.888.GIBILL.1) and ask a representative to verify your enrollment for you. Please note that you may have to wait on hold for a while.

Contact VA for Assistance

Changes like this can be difficult to navigate. If you are having problems with the new process, contact the VA’s Education Call Center by dialing 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).

You should also ensure that they have the most current contact information for you, i.e. email address, phone number, and mailing address. Don’t let your payments lag because of this new GI Bill verification process.

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The Best GI Bill® Schools

You Earned It, Use It Wisely – 6 of the Best GI Bill Schools

You earned it and you deserve it. Utilize your GI Bill at a great school for a quality education. Here are 6 of the Best GI Bill Schools.

Distinguishing the Best GI Bill Schools

Degree mills have been a pervasive problem since the GI Bill was introduced post-WWII. Problems with these pay-to-play degree mills include inadequate training and substandard education. This degree dilemma is through no fault of the student as these institutions often operate under the guise of legitimacy. Yet it leaves students with what amounts to a worthless degree (that ironically cost tens of thousands).

Education is a billion dollar industry, so is education fraud. Degree mills waste billions of dollars of educational funds including GI Bills. You earned it, use it well. Below is a selection of 6 of the Best GI Bill Schools.

University of Florida

Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs: 

UF has been offering online degrees since 2001 and boasts a 60% graduation rate for its undergraduate degree seeking programs. UF is consistently ranked as one of the best public universities and ranks high on “Best of” lists including:

  • #3 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs(US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs(US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, UF participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

 

Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Best Online Master’s Degree Programs

Pennsylvania State University World Campus offers over 120 Master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Penn State World consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

  • #1 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs for Veterans (US News)
  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs for Veterans (US News)
  • #5 in Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans (US News)
  • #5 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs for Veterans (US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, Penn State World Campus participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

 

University of California Los Angeles

Best College for Full-Time Undergraduate Students

The University of California Los Angeles is part of the 10-campus University of California system. UCLA is unique in that it does not offer part-time enrollment or evening coursework for undergraduate degree programs. Students must enroll full time and attend daytime classes. The result is a high-quality degree earned from one of the country’s most prestigious universities in a minimal amount of time. UCLA has an amazing 70% graduation rate. UCLA consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

#20 in National Universities (US News)

#5 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)

#30 in Most Innovative Schools (US News)

#13 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News)

#1 in Top Public Schools (US News)

#19 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, UCLA participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

 

Spelman College

Best Historically Black College and University

Consistently ranked high both as an HBCU and Women’s College, Spelman has a fantastic 70% graduation rate. Spelman receives many accolades including:

#1 HBCU (by Niche and US News)

#10 Best Women’s College (Niche)

#54 in National Liberal Arts Colleges (US News)

#19 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (US News)

#10 in Most Innovative Schools (US News)

#4 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, Spellman College is also approved for Tuition Assistance.

 

Pomona College

Best Liberal Arts College West Coast

Pomona College has an amazing 90% graduation rate and an average class size of 15 students. Pomona College is strictly undergraduate yet is part of the “Claremont Colleges” consortium and does offer some combined opportunities for graduate studies. You will find that Pomona College consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

#1 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America (Niche)

#1 Best Small Colleges in America (Niche)

#1 Most Diverse Colleges in America (Niche)

#4 in National Liberal Arts Colleges (US News)

#7 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (US News)

#2 in Best Value Schools (US News)

#29 in Most Innovative Schools (US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, Pomona College participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

 

Bowdoin College

Best Liberal Arts College East Coast

Test optional for a half-century and always centered on student collaboration, Bowdoin has a staggering 90% graduation rate. Bowdoin College consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

#2 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America (Niche)

#3 Best Small Colleges in America (Niche)

#7 Best Colleges for Global Studies (Niche)

#11 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (US News)

#12 in Best Value Schools (US News)

Along with being a GI Bill approved school, Bowdoin College participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

Features of the Best GI Bill Schools

The following features are common practices among 6 of the Best GI Bill Schools:

Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most desirable option.  The Best GI Bill Schools will be regionally accredited.

Additional Tuition Assistance

The Best GI Bill Schools will take part in additional tuition assistance for active duty military, such as the Yellow Ribbon Program or Tuition Assistance, which can help pay for school costs not covered by the GI Bill.  Scholarships for veterans are another feature.

Graduation Rates

Minimal graduation rates are around 50%. In some cases, 30% is considered acceptable.  Lower than that would require additional research as to why the school scores so low.

Job Placement

The Best GI Bill Schools will have an excellent network to help students succeed in their chosen career after earning their degree. Effective job placement can be found in programs such as internships, apprenticeships, strong alumni connections, etc.

Adherence to the Principles of Excellence

Strictly adheres to the Principles of Excellence, which includes not participating in fraudulent methods of recruiting.  In addition, the institution may provide students with an educational plan outlining how and when students can fulfill graduation requirements.

Program Availability

Schools will have availability for your degree programs. This will allow you to effectively manage military service, work and family commitments along with your new education.

 

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How to Pay for College as a Veteran

In America today, there are more opportunities for veterans seeking college education than at any time in history.  From education benefits earned through your service, to tuition assistance offered through some states, achieving your education goals is within your reach.  Read on to learn more about what is available to you.

Veterans Affairs Education and Training Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers education benefits to veterans, service members, and their qualified family members. These benefits include paying for tuition, assistance in finding a training program, or even career counseling.

The GI Bill

The GI Bill is one of the most cherished benefits that veterans have when leaving the service. Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped veterans pay for most or all of their education expenses. There are a few different versions of the GI Bill, and you may fall under more than one of them.

The Montgomery GI Bill

When I joined the Army in the mid-1990s, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) was the education benefit most soldiers selected. It required a deduction of $100 per month for the first 12 months of service, and then continued service for at least two years to confirm your eligibility.

This version of the GI Bill is being phased out and replaced by another one, but it is still an option available to you if you had your pay reduced during your first year of service.

There are four categories within which you could qualify for this education benefit.

You may get up to 36 months of education benefits under the MGIB. The amount you get depends on the length of your service, the type of program you’re enrolled in, and your eligibility category.

The MGIB Selected Reserve

This program offers up to 36 months of education and training benefits. It was designed for members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard Reserve, the Army National Guard, and the Air National Guard.

There are a few eligibility requirements for those veterans seeking to take advantage of this benefit.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill helps a new generation of veterans pay for school or job training. It covers tuition and fees and provides money for housing, books and supplies. Unlike other education benefits, the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not expire if your service ended after January 1, 2013.

It is possible that you may be eligible for the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills. When I joined the service, the MGIB was the only option, so I had my pay reduced each month for the first year.

In 2012, I received word from my command that I had to pick either the MGIB or transfer my benefit to the newer Post-9/11 version. I opted to hold onto the MGIB because I’d already paid into it. I’d also participated in the $600 Buy-Up Program, which was designed to give me more money each month through the GI Bill payments.

Shortly after retiring in 2014, I found out that I was eligible for both benefits, but I was only able to use one at a time. Since the MGIB only granted 36 months of benefit, an additional year under the Post-9/11 GI Bill was authorized to me. Using them together, I was able to complete my degree program.

RELATED: Forever GI Bill

Other Opportunities to Pay for College

Yellow Ribbon Schools

If you have the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the If you have the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program may help pay tuition for a degree or training program. The amount available to you depends on the school, the degree type, and the academic program you’re considering.

This is one program that can make your education benefit last longer, go further, and get you more training.

Please go here for a list of Yellow Ribbon Schools which may help pay tuition for a degree or training program. The amount available to you depends on the school, as well as the degree type.

Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship

This scholarship allows some Veterans and dependents in high-demand fields to extend their Post-9/11 benefit. The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship could net you up to 9 months, or $30,000, of added benefits.

Some of the high-demand fields covered by this scholarship include:

  • Biological or biomedical science
  • Computer science and IT programs
  • Various Engineering fields
  • Health care or related field
  • Mathematics or Statistics
  • Medical Residency (undergraduate only)

If you’re enrolled in one of these or other high-demand career fields, do not pass up this opportunity. Here’s a PDF of the full list eligible STEM degree programs.

Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)

If you seek computer experience to start or advance your career in the IT industry, the VET TEC program could be your best bet.

If you meet the VET TEC eligibility requirements, you could get training in one of the following exciting career fields:

  • Computer software development
  • Data Processing
  • Information Science
  • Media Applications

Veteran Readiness and Employment

If you have a service-connected disability that limits your ability to work, or even one that prevents you from working, the Veteran Readiness and Employment may benefit you.

This program helps you explore employment options and address your training needs to ready yourself for employment.

This program has multiple tracks based on your future goals, but one of them does offer assistance with training and education.

The Employment Through Long-Term Services track can help you find training and education that can help you transition into a different field of employment.

Determine your eligibility, then apply for VR&E benefits.

National Call to Service Program

You may qualify for the National Call to Service program if you performed a period of national service. This program allows you to choose an education benefit as an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill.

The eligibility requirements are very specific:

  • You completed Initial Entry Training
  • You served for 15 months in a military occupational specialty
  • Without a break in service, you served a period of active duty as determined by the Secretary of Defense, OR
  • You served a period of 24 months in active status while in the Selected Reserve
  • AND, without a break in service, you served the remainder of your obligated service on active duty, in the reserves, in the Individual Ready Reserves, or in AmeriCorps

If you meet the eligibility requirements, then you could receive:

  • A cash bonus of $5,000, OR
  • Repayment of qualifying student loans not more than $18,000, OR
  • Educational assistance equal to the 3-year monthly MGIB rate for 12 months, OR
  • Educational assistance equal to 50% of the less-than 3-year MGIB rate for 36 months

The Post-Vietnam Era Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

Under this program, you may be able to continue your education by using part of your military pay to help cover school costs.

If you meet the eligibility requirements for VEAP, then you could secure money for tuition at VA approved schools.

Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program

The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) offers education and training for high-demand jobs to veterans who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VRRAP covers education programs which are approved under the GI Bill and VET TEC programs that lead to high-demand jobs. These programs could include associate degrees, non-college degrees, and certificate programs.

For the purposes of this program, the Department of Labor (DOL) determines which jobs are considered high-demand.

If you’re eligible for VRRAP, you can get:

  • Up to 12 months of tuition and fees, AND
  • A monthly housing allowance based on Post-9/11 rates

Please note, at the time that you apply for VRRAP, you can NOT be eligible for any of the following benefits:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • MGIB
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)
  • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA)
  • Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

States Offering Education Benefits for Veterans

In addition to the federal benefits covered above, many states offer education benefits to veterans. Some even cover the cost of tuition if certain criterion are met.

Conclusion

If you are a veteran and you are looking for ways to pay for education and training, there are so many programs out there to assist you.

Please look into any and all of these programs to get your journey started.

 

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Howard University Now Offering Loans to Veterans

Howard University is now offering student veterans an interest-free loan of $3,000 after an investigation revealed that the prestigious D.C. university lost its accreditation.

Students are required to repay the loan by December 14, 2021, which is the end of the fall semester. However, some students may not be able to pay the loan back if they can’t get their GI Bill benefits.

If Howard University is not able to accept GI Bill payments, then the veteran students will not receive the stipends they need to pay for rent or books. These students may have to find another school.

RELATED: VA Suspends Education Benefits at these 5 Schools

Howard University Loses Accreditation

In April, Howard learned that its ability to receive GI Bill payments would diminish after the State Approving Agency (SAA) for the District of Columbia revoked it. The revocation took effect on June 15th. The sixty day window allowing the university to rectify the situation closed on August 15th, just one week ago.

Each SAA has the authority to audit a school to ensure they comply with standing laws and guidelines. The SAAs also ensure that the VA’s quality standards are met by these institutions receiving GI Bill funds. A Military.com investigation revealed that the school had lost its accreditation after a series of preventable clerical errors.

RELATED: Why College Accreditation Matters for Military and Veterans

Consequences for Howard University

When a school loses its GI Bill credentials, it directly impacts the veteran by rendering their primary source of financial support useless. A suspension does not happen often, especially with top level schools. This indicates that there are systemic issues with how the university operates. 

The university is taking extreme measures to survive this blunder, even if those measures are not in the best interest of the students. A spokesman for Howard University blames the VA for instituting new rules last year. Not surprisingly, the school official was unable to report any of the changes that he claims caused these issues.

Even so, rule and regulation changes are common in the higher education game. What is uncommon is for an institute of higher learning to drop the ball on such a grand scale.

RELATED: GI Bill For-Profit Colleges: Issues and Problems

Who Is Impacted

As of right now, only new students attempting to use their VA benefits are impacted. However, the SAA could expand the penalties on the school, which would impact returning students who had already been using their GI Bill to pay education at Howard.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

(Image courtesy of Eric Glenn via Shutterstock.com)

 

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This VA GI Bill Upgrade Will Make Life a Bit Easier

Modernizing the VA’s GI Bill Platform to Go Digital

Ever get frustrated with the VA’s GI Bill platform? You aren’t alone. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs was awarded a contract in March to transform the GI Bill digital platform. This upgrade will improve education benefits and customer service delivery to the nearly one million students it serves each year. 

This new platform will be called the Digital GI Bill and will enable the VA to call, email, text, and chat with GI Beneficiaries. The platform will also grant the VBA (Veterans Benefits Administration) to have immediate access to beneficiary records and respond to questions from colleges and universities. 

This sounds like this change will make the VA’s GI Bill process easier and keep up with modern technology. 

The VA is using $243 million that they received under the CARES Act to support this overhaul. The process will take a few years and the VA will be seeking feedback from students, schools, and partners to make sure the correct needs are met when pursuing their academic and vocational goals. You can read more about this on the VA website.

 

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Proposed Legislation Could Increase GI Bill Benefits for Guard, Reservists

Increased GI Bill Benefits for National Guard and Reservists with Proposed Legislation

In mid-March, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 was introduced, which would make it easier for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to accumulate GI Bill benefits.

“House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Vice Chair Mike Levin (D-CA) and Chair Mark Takano (D-CA) reintroduced the bipartisan” bill on March 11. It was originally introduced to Congress in February of 2020, but referred back to the Veterans’ Affairs committee. The bill aims to create uniformity in GI Bill benefits for Guard and Reservists “who increasingly conduct similar training and missions as other servicemembers, but do not receive equal benefits.” More specifically, the bill expands the benefit eligibility of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to count each day that any activated servicemember is paid and in uniform; this specification of each paid day in service should help eliminate “confusion over which types of duty allow Guard troops to qualify for federal education benefits.”

Current Service Requirements

Currently, National Guard members are required to serve 90 days (at least 30 days of continuous service) to reach eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Automatic qualification is granted to Purple Heart recipients. While the average Guardsman does serve around 60 days during a normal year, without any missions or deployments, one “day in the Guard doesn’t always equal one day of service.” Required weekend and annual training does not count toward benefit eligibility.

“Fairness to the way GI Bill benefits are earned…”

Of the intent behind the bill, Rep. Levin released a statement saying, “This bill will bring some basic fairness to the way GI Bill benefits are earned and provide Guard and Reserve members with the benefits they deserve. I look forward to advancing this bill on behalf of the thousands of Guard members who [have recently] defended our Capitol and many others who have sacrificed for our country.”

Since 9/11, the role of the Reserve Component has changed drastically. Originally created as a strategic division, they have now evolved into an integral and operational part of U.S. defense. “Servicemembers from the Active and Reserve Components often train and serve alongside each other… but do not receive equal benefits.” While this alone is enough support for a bill of this nature, the most recent catalyst for its reintroduction came after the announcement “that 2,300 National Guard troops [would] remain deployed in Washington, D.C., at least until May 23, 2021,” a response to the recent insurgence on our nation’s capital.

Rep. Takano released a statement highlighting, “Time and time again, through natural disasters, global pandemics, and threats to our democracy, our National Guard and Reserve members have answered the call to serve. But despite taking on the same risks and doing the same jobs as their Active Duty counterparts, these servicemembers don’t have access to the same benefits. That’s not right.”

Many Guard and Reservists are in agreement

And the masses agree with Rep. Takano. One Reddit user said of this disparity, “deploying to a combat zone for at least six months should qualify a guardsman for 100% GI Bill. It’s outrageous that people who are basically in a jobs program doing nothing in the motor pool for three years and never deploy receive 100% and they do not.”

Another commented, “when I went to college, I was receiving 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I had finished a 400 day mobilization for my deployment to Iraq so that was all I got. It was still a great benefit to have… but sometimes I had to dip into retirement savings to pay the difference. I had other Vets in my classes who had been on active duty but had never left the state of California and were receiving the full benefit. Yes they earned it by the letter of the law, but there is little difference between my stateside drills/annual training/NCOES/etc and theirs. If I had been allowed to count all of my Reserve time I would have received 70% which would have made a big difference for me. I really hope this becomes law. Granted Reserve and Guard wouldn’t earn the benefit as fast, but it would be better than what they get now.”

Long-awaited Legislation has widespread support

There is widespread support for this long-awaited legislation among those in positions to support the military community, as well. Veterans Education Project (VEP) Legislative Director Donald Franklin said, “These brave men and women are long overdue the benefits befitting their service.” Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO voiced, “The expanded eligibility under [this act] takes a major step forward by recognizing the reserve component’s sacrifice to our nation and rewarding their service with education benefits like their active-duty counterparts.” And Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Karen Craig, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States responded, “We appreciate the[se] efforts… to ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserve are eligible for the GI Bill benefits they deserve based on their increased service to our nation. The National Guard activated over 187,000 servicemembers last year, and this legislation will ensure they receive GI Bill benefits equal to their active-duty counterparts, regardless of status.”

Whether this proposed legislation will be passed is still up in the air, but those in support of it are dedicated to making sure it remains a priority. With the larger focus currently residing strongly on pandemic response efforts, supporters hope that it can be “included in the annual defense authorization bill expected to pass later this fall.”

 

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8 Tips for Using the GI Bill

8 Tips for Using the GI Bill®

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has offered some guidance on getting your GI Bill benefits in a timely fashion.

If you are currently using your GI Bill benefits, then you may have already received an email from the VA outlining the following information. Here’s a quick breakdown of their suggestions:

Plan Ahead

You can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to estimate the general level of benefits you should expect.

Enroll as Early as Possible

Enroll in classes as early as you can and if at all possible, avoid changing your course schedule once you are enrolled.

Get to Know Your School Certifying Official

Get to know who your School Certifying Official (SCA) is and stay in contact with them. You can find your school’s SCA by again using the GI Bill Comparison Tool, finding your school, and then scrolling down to “Contact Details”. Every school that accepts VA benefits MUST have an SCA.

Familiarize Yourself with School Procedures

Become familiar with the procedure your school uses regarding requests for certification to the VA. Most schools use a similar process, but they must all certify your courses and enrollments to the VA before any money is released for your education.

Contact School Certifying Official if Adding or Dropping Courses

If you do add or drop hours or courses, contact your SCA as soon as possible to avoid any potential for overpayment. If the VA overpays you, you’ll be notified of a debt that must be settled before full access to your benefits is reinstated.

Updating Your Bank Account Info

If you have changed your bank account or moved to a new address, contact the VA Education Service to update your information. You can do this through either the:

NOTE: If the VA doesn’t have your correct information, your payment will be delayed.

Contacting the VA by Mail

If you need to contact the VA by mail, use the Regional Processing office handling your claim. You can find the office that services you and their mailing address on this website.

NOTE: If you use a different address than the one that services your claim, they may not receive your message.

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to a delay in payment, contact the VA’s Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551, between 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday. The VA will expedite any hardship request.

General GI Bill Timelines

The VA is committed to processing enrollments as quickly as possible, and they process them in the “date order” they are received. Hence, get your enrollments in as soon as you can and you’ll be at the earliest processing times.

The VA makes every effort to process original (first-time) applications within 24 days of submission. For supplemental, or re-enrollment claims, the target is 12 days. The VA projects that they will continue to hit these target windows as they push through this Spring enrollment period. Keep in mind that unique factors may cause some claims to take longer. This is where staying in contact with your school’s SCA is important. They are your direct connection to your enrollment.

Additional Resources

  • The VA recently posted FAQs about protecting your benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They also have a fact sheet that offers basic information and resources for students.
  • The VA has developed the COVID Coach App designed to help Veterans and their families cope with feelings of stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic. (Here’s a COVID Coach Demo video.) It is available for iOS and Android devices. Download the COVID Coach by visiting the VA Mobile App Store.
  • If you are nearing the end of your educational journey, the VA developed “A Guide to Furthering Your Career”, which has a ton of great information about entering the job market and entrepreneurship.

I know that my classes have already started.  I registered for them months ago. If you are struggling to discover which schools or education programs are available to you, we have a ton of information at College Recon that can lead you in the right direction.

Need to find additional funding sources for school? Check out our Scholarship Finder tool that can connect you with scholarship opportunities.

(Image courtesy of U.S. Army Media)

 

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Top GI Bill® Schools for Military and Veterans

Largest GI Bill® Schools By Population for Military and Veterans

With the constant evolution of the education process, attending college post-military career can become stressful for veterans who have recently transitioned back to the civilian world. In several cases, most former service members have not been in a formal learning environment since High School, which creates uncertainty when choosing a university to further their education and possible civilian career.  According to a Veterans Affairs study conducted in 2019 –

  • Nearly 60% of GI Bill students attended public universities
  • Almost 21% attended private institutions
  • 19% attended for-profit schools

For some veterans, finding a university that their fellow service members attend or have attended plays an essential factor in their decision making.  Listed below are the top schools ranked by the total number of GI Bill students enrolled and attending each school.  This is of course not necessarily an endorsement of these schools.

American Military University

As reported by Military Times, American Military University is the one provider of higher education to the U.S. military and part of the American Public University System (APUS), which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and has been named the top choice nationwide for veterans using their GI Bill benefit. The number of GI Bill students that attend is 17,648, which comes to over $58 million in GI Bill funds used there. This university is extremely popular with the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) members due to its flexible schedules and online class structure.

University of Maryland Global Campus

The university has been serving the higher education needs of the U.S. Armed Forces since 1947. Today, they have enrolled more than 50,000 active-duty military servicemembers, reservists, veterans, and their family members. They feature more than 140 classroom and service locations worldwide to help ensure the service member or veteran’s success. Plus, a veteran or Service member can fast-track their bachelor’s degree by transferring up to 90 credits for prior education, military training, and work experience.  Find more info on University of Maryland Global Campus.

University of Phoenix-Online Campus

The university can help veterans or Service Members earn a degree or continue their education to enhance their role in the military or civilian career. The university’s military representatives are positioned to help interested personnel discover relevant programs for their desired position. Many even have a military background, so they know the unique challenges a veteran may face.

Active and Reserve military members and their families are directed to speak with their assigned educational services officer (ESO) or approved installation staff before enrolling. Please visit the education office on your trusted military installation for your respective branch. National Guard and Reserve members who do not have an ESO on their assigned base can contact their regional education office for support.

Liberty University

As an accredited Christian college with a 7,000-acre campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University offers you an education that is both academically challenging and rooted in a biblical worldview. At Liberty, you will benefit from 30 plus years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the online student’s needs. Personnel can be confident that they have taken the time to learn what is essential to the service member. Many of the faculty members have served in the Armed Forces and are currently actively involved in research, resource development, or ministry to benefit the military community. Liberty University offers a free evaluation of your military training and experience for college credit. All credit granted for military training is based on the American Council on Education (ACE) guide recommendations.  Find more info on Liberty University.

 

Largest GI Bill Campuses GI Bill Students
AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY SYSTEM                  17,648
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS                  13,366
UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX-ONLINE CAMPUS                  13,284
LIBERTY UNIVERSITY                  11,581
SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY ONLINE                  10,271
WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY                    7,754
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY-TEMPE                    7,047
ASHFORD UNIVERSITY                    6,934
GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY                    6,566
PURDUE UNIVERSITY GLOBAL                    5,023
COLUMBIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY                    4,570
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY SAN DIEGO                    4,555
CENTRAL TEXAS COLLEGE MAIN CAMPUS                    4,470
FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY                    3,846
COLORADO TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY-ONLINE                    3,649
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO                    3,260
OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY                    3,222
TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE-VIRGINIA BEACH                    3,220
FAYETTEVILLE TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE                    2,905
EXCELSIOR COLLEGE                    2,826
PIKES PEAK COMMUNITY COLLEGE                    2,769
CAPELLA UNIVERSITY                    2,741
AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE                    2,729
WALDEN UNIVERSITY                    2,657
TRIDENT INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY                    2,634
GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY                    2,547
EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY-ONLINE                    2,392
FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE AT JACKSONVILLE                    2,355
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA-MAIN CAMPUS                    2,349
SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE                    2,315
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY                    2,265
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY                    2,265
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA                    2,247
AUSTIN PEAY STATE UNIVERSITY                    2,229
ECPI UNIVERSITY                    2,222
LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM                    2,218
NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE-ANNANDALE                    2,178
DEVRY UNIVERSITY ONLINE                    2,163
GRANTHAM UNIVERSITY                    2,148
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON                    2,100
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA-TUSCALOOSA                    2,079
UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CAMPUS                    2,067
TARRANT COUNTY COLLEGE DISTRICT                    2,063
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-COLLEGE STATION                    2,040
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-COLLEGE STATION                    2,040
VALENCIA COLLEGE                    1,967
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO                    1,924
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA                    1,914
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV-WORLD CAMPUS-UNIVERSITY PARK                    1,879
GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY                    1,875

 

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GI Bill and Veteran Education Benefits Changes in 2021

2021 Changes to Post-911 GI Bill® and VA Education Benefits

In December, Congress delivered recently-passed legislation to President Trump’s desk which, when signed into law, brings changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) GI Bill and other benefits.  This legislation, known as the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020, or H.R. 7105 for short, will make several significant changes to your existing benefits programs. It was signed into law on January 5th, 2021.  Here are the 2021 GI Bill and veterans education benefits changes.

Changes to Education Benefits

The following list highlights some of the changes to education benefits you can expect from H.R. 7105:

  • Improvements to the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program offered through the VA
  • Expansion of eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to children and spouses of certain deceased members of the Armed Forces
  • Requirements relating to in-state tuition for veterans
  • Verification of enrollment for those receiving Post-9/11 Educational Assistance benefits
  • Improvements to limitation on certain advertising, sales, and enrollment practices

 

RELATED: Multiple Degrees Possible with New VA Rules

Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship

For the VA’s STEM Scholarship, the legislation identifies priorities of benefits in the case that funding should be exhausted due to a large number of applicants. The priorities are determined by the subject are of the undergraduate degree program, those programs leading to a teaching certificate, dual-degree programs leading to an undergraduate and graduate degree in a high-priority field of study, and programs for those in the health field who have earned degrees and are participating in covered clinical training.

>> Find scholarships for military, veterans, dependents and spouses with the CollegeRecon Scholarship Finder!

Fry Scholarship

The Fry Scholarship’s eligibility has been amended and is available to “an individual who is the child or spouse of a person who, on or after September 11, 2001, dies in line of duty while serving on duty other than active duty as a member of the Armed Forces.”

The key change here is expanding the scholarship to families whose service members were not on active duty.

In-State Tuition

There has been a growing call for institutes of higher learning to offer active military and their families the in-state tuition rates afforded to each state’s residents. 

One primary reason for this is that many military families are not residents of the states in which they live, having moved with their service members to locations required by their service. For example, I am a Texas resident, but I live in Virginia after the Army moved my spouse to a new assignment.

The new law charges the VA Secretary to create a publicly available database of public institutions of higher learning that explains their tuition and fees, along with the tuition rate that would be charged to members of the armed forces and their families. The VA would also have the authority to disapprove any course of education that does not provide this information to the VA in a timely manner.

Pay attention to the wording. The verbiage of the law applies to “public” institutions, so that means those universities and schools considered “private” are not required to comply. 

RELATED:

Verification of Enrollment for Post 9/11 GI Bill

If you are an older veteran like me, you may have received the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) as an education benefit for your service. It was the predecessor to the newer Post-9/11 GI Bill that is offered to our younger generations of service members.

While using the MGIB during my retirement, I was required to submit a monthly verification of enrollment, either online or by calling the VA. It was kind of a nuisance because I often forgot to verify my enrollment during the first year. 

Until recently, the Post-9/11 benefit only required the school to verify your enrollment, and even then it was only done at the start of each semester. The new law will change that requirement.

Now, each institution is required to submit a verification of each individual who is enrolled in a course or program of education who is receiving educational assistance from the VA. 

Additionally, each individual who is enrolled in a course or program is required to submit a verification of such enrollment for each month that an individual is enrolled and receiving VA education benefits. If a student fails to submit the required verification for two consecutive months, the VA Secretary may stop any monthly stipend until the verifications are submitted.

During the MGIB years, we used a web application called WAVE, or Web Automated Verification of Enrollment, to submit our verifications. Since the website is still active, I would expect that the VA will use it to carry out this new requirement.

Expanded Prohibition to Predatory Practices

Let’s face it, members of the military, their families, and veterans, are a valuable asset to their communities, their places of employment, and especially to institutes of higher learning.

Last summer, I reported that the state of Maryland was the first to pass legislation aimed at protecting veterans from the sometimes misleading and predatory practices of some institutions. These institutions view students with VA benefits as guaranteed money and will misrepresent the institution and its programs with the sole purpose of receiving the VA’s funding.

Now, it seems that what started in Maryland has spread to federal legislation. Under H.R. 7105, extensive enforcement procedures have been approved to prevent questionable institutions from preying on our veteran students and their families.

One measure requires “flagging” such institutions on the GI Bill Comparison Tool, which would alert potential students to these issues at the institution. Ouch.

Other actions under the VA’s authority include:

  • Suspension of approval for courses and programs at the institution in question
  • Revocation the approval for courses and programs offered by the institution

Either of these actions would crush enrollments and funding for any institution that engages in questionable and deceptive practices, and I applaud their implementation.

Conclusion

The education benefits covered above are just a small portion of legislation. There are other sections that expand or correct benefits to specific demographics within the veteran community, and I will push out information that covers those topics.

For now, just be aware that H.R. 7105 has been signed into law, and there are some specific and immediate changes that impact you as a student and veteran. 

More to follow.

(Image courtesy of dennizn via Shutterstock)

 

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Important GI Bill Update: 48-Month Rule

Important GI Bill Update: 48-Month Rule

On October 28, 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sent emails to those of us who have used, are using, or are eligible to use the GI Bill, notifying us of big changes to the “48-Month Rule” that has applied to some veteran students and beneficiaries.

Carr vs. Wilkie

On June 11, 2020, a Federal Circuit Court overturned VA rules regarding end-of-term benefit extensions previously laid out in the court case Carr vs Wilkie.

As a result of the court’s decision, the VA will begin paying more benefits by extending the end-of-term benefits beyond 48 months. This ruling only applies to cases which have not been finally decided by the VA, so it will only apply to cases currently on appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals, or those cases which are still appealable to the VA. If your case was decided within one year of the date of decision, June 11, 2020, then your case is still appealable.

The VA has already started reaching out to schools to make sure they understand the issue and to ensure that the schools will be able to assist you through the process in a timely fashion. The VA recommends the following tips for successfully engaging with this issue:

  • Plan ahead and ask questions
  • Understand the impact this court decision has on you
  • Ensure you understand your school’s procedures regarding this issue
  • Stay in contact with your School Certifying Officials

Why is this important?

Before the Carr decision in June, the VA viewed the 48-month rule as a “hard stop” and would never extend end-of-term benefits beyond 48 months. The court ruled that VA’s interpretation of the rule was incorrect, and that the VA should “apply the 48-month rule to limit the initial award which will determine when benefits are exhausted.” Once that point of exhaustion arrives, then the VA should apply an end-of-term extension.

What does that even mean??

For example, suppose a student has used 26 months of benefit under Chapter 1606, MGIB Selected Reserve. Then the student applies for benefits under Chapter 33, the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The entitlement to Chapter 33 is generally limited to 36 months. However, application of the 48-month rule limits the award to 22 months of Chapter 33 benefits:

  • 26 months Ch. 1606 benefits used
  • 36 months of Ch. 33 benefits entitled
  • 48 (month rule) – 26 (months used) = 22 months of Ch. 33 available

In this case, if the student then uses 21 (of 22) months of Chapter 33 benefit, leaving one month of entitlement remaining, and then starts a 4-month standard semester program, the VA will now pay benefits for the entire 4 month semester. This results in an extension of benefits by three months beyond the actual entitlements awarded.

This is important because many students were facing the challenges of having their benefits only covering part of a college semester. I’ve been there, and it’s a troubling time. The new policy means that the VA will extend benefits to the end of the term for quarter or semester based programs.

If a student has at least one day of benefits to start the academic term but does not have enough days of benefits to pay for the entire term, the VA will pay for the entire term!

For non-quarter or semester based programs, the benefits can also be extended; but the rules for calculating the length of the extension are a little different. For these non-standard term programs, the benefits can only be extended to the end of the term if the student has enough benefit remaining to make it to at least the halfway point of the term. In these cases, end-of-term benefits can only be extended for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Readjudication & Retroactive Payments

The VA will conduct a review to determine if there were previous times when they may have underpaid tuition and fees to a school and housing benefits to a student. The VA will issue any retroactive payments due for housing or tuition and fees, which will be explained in a letter to the student.

Contact the VA

If you have any questions, or you are experiencing a financial hardship due to this issue, please contact the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551, Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm Central Time. You can also interact with the Veterans Benefits Administration on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where they will monitor for all students requiring assistance.

For more information on VA education benefits, you may visit the VA site.

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Army)

 

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University of Arizona Acquires For-Profit Ashford University

UA Acquires For-Profit Institution of Higher Learning, Ashford University

The University of Arizona has acquired for-profit Ashford University, with the aims to develop it into a non-profit that will now be the University of Arizona Global Campus. The Tucson-based university announced the deal as a purchase of $1. In reality, the company that owned Ashford, Zovio, will pay the University of Arizona an upfront payment of $37.5 million, for affiliation and trademark licensing, while the Global Campus will share with Zovio 19.5 percent of a guaranteed $225 million earned in tuition revenue over 15 years. This move comes as UA has been expanding their online presence, and it is not one that everyone is happy about.

Why This Deal is Drawing Criticism

Reputation

University of Arizona faculty have been harshly critical of this acquisition, fearing the damage to the UA’s reputation as a 135 year old institution with a renown for providing quality education. Adding to the sense of bad feeling is the fact that only some of the faculty were made aware of the decision, and were then made to sign nondisclosure agreements about it.

Predatory Recruitment of Vets

Ashford has famously been accused of and investigated for their predatory behavior towards students, and specifically to veterans. In spite of years of these complaints, headed by a nonprofit veteran advocacy group Veterans Education Success, in February of this year the Department of Veterans Affairs decided to allow Ashford to remain eligible for GI Bill benefits.

Ashford has made tens of millions of dollars in GI Bill funds, and therefore relies heavily on the student population of veterans. When for-profit schools like Ashford offer the courses structured in such a way that vets can work into their schedules—courses lasting only five to six weeks versus a traditional semester structure— vets who want to continue their education are ripe to be taken advantage of. Veterans Education Success aims to disrupt institutions like Ashford from achieving this, by offering legal and policy advocacy, and working to “protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill.”

Lawsuits & Shaky Accreditation

A lawsuit was raised by California’s attorney general against Ashford in 2017 for using illegal business practices to mislead students, alleging the university’s admission counselors were essentially functioning as salespeople being pushed to meet enrollment targets. They also misrepresented what would be covered by the GI Bill, resulting in hundreds of thousands of wasted GI Bill dollars and some vets being hounded over debt. When faced with a loss of GI Bill funds on account of this lawsuit, Ashford moved its headquarters to Arizona. The constant threat of loss of accreditation has put vets at risk of not being able to transfer credits to another institution, as well as being out whatever amount of their GI Bill spent at Ashford.

So Why Make This Purchase?

The University of Arizona administration leading this transition is not concerned with the past lawsuits of Ashford, as the purchase is by the University of Arizona Global campus as a separate legal entity, so Zovio would retain the liability of those. However, this will not be the case for any future lawsuits, and considering that Zovio will continue to be very involved in the running of the Global Campus online programs, including managing marketing and student recruitment and retention, all of which have been red flags against the institution, more lawsuits seem inevitable.

The Global Campus will also be accredited separately, inheriting Ashford’s accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), instead of the University of Arizona’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation.

So, what is really changing in this deal? All told, it looks like the University of Arizona is just looking to absorb the company as a cash cow, and not lend much more than its name in affiliation to the running of things. The best case scenario would be for the newly minted University of Arizona Global Campus to strive to better business practices that match its affiliation with UA. Worst case scenario? The reputation, and thereby worth, of traditional UA degrees going down the drain.

 

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