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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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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10 Top Law Schools with Yellow Ribbon Programs

The Top Yellow Ribbon Law Schools

Not all colleges and universities are created equal. While attending college is a dream for most people, choosing where to apply can be a tough challenge.

For this reason, CollegeRecon compiled a list of the top ten law schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiative that can extend the duration of GI Bill benefits.

RELATED: Veteran’s Guide for Going to Law School

Choosing the Top 10

There are thousands of colleges in the United States, and sifting through them all is a huge undertaking. The Wall Street Journal 2022 College Ranking List formed the foundation of our analysis. Based on their results, we present to you the best schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Wall Street Journal’s Methodology

The Wall Street Journal’s College Ranking focuses on student success and learning achievement. The WSJ looks for key indicators that illuminate issues related to student engagement, interaction with teachers, and overall satisfaction with their education.

The methodology emcompasses four important areas of analysis:

  1. Resources – “Does the college have the capacity to effectively deliver teaching?”
  2. Engagement – “Does the college effectively engage with students?”
  3. Outcomes – “Does the college generate good and appropriate outputs?”
  4. Environment – Is the college providing a good learning environment for all students?”

The results of their survey helped determine which schools were better than others relating to these key areas. For more information, read the full Wall Street Journal College Rankings 2022 methodology.

RELATED: Vet Success on Campus

CollegeRecon’s Top 10 Yellow Ribbon Law Schools

After sorting the schools by program, we eliminated the ones that did not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. So, the schools that follow are the top schools, in order of the WSJ ranking, that do participate in this VA program.

#10: Michigan State University

The Student Veterans Resource Center at MSU promotes educational and career advancement of military students. MSU ensures that veterans have the resources they need to get a quality education. These include:

  1. Financial Aid application support
  2. Transition services
  3. Career development
  4. Employment and Internship opportunities
  5. VA benefit and health assistance
  6. Space for meetings, studying, and socializing

Additionally, the MSU Disabled Veterans Assistance Program allows for “new and returning veterans with a military related disability who are Michigan residents working on their first baccalaureate degree” to qualify for a full-cost financial aid package without loans.

#9: University of California – Santa Barbara

The UCSB Veteran Resource Center exists to support Veterans in their transition and academically. They will help you apply for education benefits with the VA, find housing for you and your family, and offer general counseling during your academic career.

There is also an active Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter at UCSB. This great Veteran community is an invaluable resource on the path to your degree.

#8: Tulane University

The Student Veterans Services (SVS) office provides veteran students with assistance while attending school. Tulane’s SVS department also acts as a liaison between the student and the regional VA office.

In 2019 Tulane University implemented a requirement that all student veterans using VA education benefits must complete a mandatory Veterans Enrollment Form. A new form is required each semester, and it appears to be in addition to, not a replacement of, other reporting required by the VA.

#7: University of Richmond

This school offers a maximum of $5,000 to each of 25 student veterans for the school year. This is the amount that will be matched by the VA. The funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

For consideration, you must

  • Be accepted into a degree program, AND
  • Submit a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA to the School Certifying Official (SCO)

There doesn’t appear to be a specific office for assisting student veterans. The Yellow Ribbon Program contact is from the Registrar’s Office.

#6: University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University Veteran Services (UVS) encourages their student veterans to apply for both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Wisconsin GI Bill

Additionally, UW-Madison has their own Benefit Eligibility Survey that they recommend student veterans take. This survey gathers information and offers specific guidance to the student regarding federal and state benefits that may apply.

You will also need a Certificate of Eligibility to secure a spot in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Space is limited, but it will cover fees for non-resident students eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

#5: University of Miami

The office of Veteran Student Services helps veteran students transition from the service to campus life. The university offers services such as:

  • The UM Counseling Center – offers specific programs  to the veteran student population
  • The Toppel Career Center – offers specific veteran student programs and career advising
  • Academic Resource Center – offers tutoring services
  • Student Health Service – assists with medical and insurance needs

The UM Law School offers a maximum of 15 Yellow Ribbon grants per year. These grants apply to Fall and Spring semesters only.

#4: Boston University

Boston University Veterans Services acts as an intermediary between the university and the VA. Once you are certified, your eligibility will automatically be certified each semester, which is a great benefit.

Boston University accepts 52 Yellow Ribbon Program participants each year, totalling $7,000 each ($3,500 from BU plus $3,500 from the VA). Once all the slots are filled, BU opens a waitlist that is populated chronologically based on when the applications are submitted.

Please note, being placed on the waitlist does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

#3: University of California – Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s Veteran Benefits office is located in the Office of the Registrar. In addition to providing assistance to veteran students and their families, they assist eligible students apply for the California Department of Veterans Affairs College Fee Waiver (Cal Vet) program.

To be eligible as a graduate student, i.e. law school, you must meet basic requirements (undergrad degree and minimum 3.0 GPA). However, there are limited spots in the program, and there are tons of applicants. There are also departmental requirements that must be satisfied.

Check out the Cal Veteran Services Center for graduate students to view their recommendations and requirements.

#2: Northwestern University

Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law allows for unlimited participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. It also has a maximum contribution of $99,999, which is one big reason why Northwestern is at the top of our list.

In addition to accepting every VA educational benefit, Northwestern also accepts the Illinois Veteran Grant and Tuition Assistance.

Moreover, the school hosts the Northwestern University Veterans Association, NUVA, which provides resources and support to its veteran students. Those resources include:

Check out Northwestern’s impressive page for Student Veterans’ Resources.

#1: Harvard University

The Harvard Law School is one of the nation’s most prestigious schools, and it proudly participates in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program. This allows Harvard to offer additional funding to veterans for tuition and fees that exceed those covered by the GI Bill.

Harvard University has pledged to contribute the maximum amount matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs for all eligible veterans. For more information, check out Harvard’s VA and Military Benefits page.

Law School Within Reach

If you’ve dreamed of becoming a lawyer and legal professional, the schools listed above are the best ones that participate in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program. 

Furthermore, many of these schools offer benefits outside of the VA that can ensure you earn your coveted Juris Doctor or LLM. You can get there by using every benefit available to you!

(Image courtesy of r.classen via Shutterstock)

 

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Vet Success on Campus

Vet Success on Campus

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created the Vet Success on Campus (VSOC) program to help veterans, servicemembers, and their qualified dependents. VSOC aims to help their target populations successfully transition into college life. The ultimate goal is to have VSOC students successfully complete their education and enter into the labor market fully prepared for viable careers.

The VSOC program is designed to help all qualified participants, and especially veterans, achieve success by providing outreach and transition services.

What is the VSOC Program?

Vet Success On Campus is designed to help its students succeed during their time as college students through a variety of on-campus benefits assistance and counseling. The VSOC program provides a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to each school that offers the program. A VA Vet Center Outreach Coordinator is also provided to provide peer counseling and referral services. Recognizing that college life is vastly different from serving in the military, VSOC Counselors help to ensure that veterans receive the support and assistance needed to pursue their educational and employment goals.

VSOC Counselors are easily accessible on campuses with the aim to quickly resolve any problems that could potentially interfere with a student’s educational success. From health concerns, to educational hurdles, to disability accommodations, VSOC aims to assist and empower their students in every way possible. The VSOC program began as a pilot program in 2009 at the University of South Florida. Since then, the program has expanded and currently supports 104 schools across the country. These schools are served by 87 VSOC Counselors. Please see below for a list of current VSOC locations and contact information.

List of Vet Success on Campus Counselors

ALABAMA

Troy University – Arika Dolman, Arika.Dolman@va.gov
University of Alabama – Lisa Fells, Lisa.Fells@va.gov

ALASKA

University of Alaska, Anchorage – Gwendolyn Hoskins, Gwendolyn.Hoskins@va.gov

ARIZONA

Arizona State University- Troy Rundle, Troy.Rundle@va.gov

ARKANSAS

University of Arkansas – open
Northwest Arkansas Community College – open

CALIFORNIA

California State University, Long Beach- Lois Daz, Lois.Daz@va.gov
Long Beach City College- Lois Daz, Lois.Daz@va.gov
Mt. San Antonio College- Maura Kazden, Maura.Kazden@va.gov
Citrus College- Maura Kazden, Maura.Kazden@va.gov
Saddleback College- Kelandra Anthony Kelandra.Anthony@va.gov
Irvine Valley College- Kelandra Anthony, Kelandra.Anthony@va.gov
Pasadena City College- David Fierro, David.Fierro@va.gov
Los Angeles City College- David Fierro, David.Fierro@va.gov
California State University, Los Angeles- David Fierro, David.Fierro@va.gov
University of California, Los Angeles- Deana Garay, Deana.Garay@va.gov
Santa Monica Community College- Deana Garay, Deana.Garay@va.gov
American River College- open
San Diego State University- Ryan Morris, Ryan.Morris377@va.gov
Mira Costa College- Alizabeth Dang, Alizabeth.Dang@va.gov

COLORADO

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs- Julie Zook,   Julie.Zook@va.gov 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

George Washington University- Glenn Cassis, Glenn.Cassis@va.gov

FLORIDA

Northwest Florida State College- Maronda Clark, Maronda.Clark@va.gov
University of West Florida- Becky Baisden, Rebecca.Baisden@va.gov
University of South Florida- Jeanine Frederick, Jeanine.Frederick@va.gov
Florida State University- Jenn Stovall, Jennifer.Stovall@va.gov
Tallahassee Community College- Jenn Stovall, Jennifer.Stovall@va.gov
Florida International University- Marquay Smith, Marquay.Smith@va.gov
University of Florida- Patricia Carswell, Patricia.Carswell@va.gov
Santa Fe College- Patricia Carswell, Patricia.Carswell@va.gov
Florida State College at Jacksonville- Brittany Beimourtrusting, Brittany.Beimourtrusting@va.gov

GEORGIA

Kennesaw State University- Margo Thompson, Margo.Thompson@va.gov

HAWAII

Hawaii Pacific University- Gwen Dang, Gwen.Dang@va.gov
Leeward Community College- Selina Higa, Selina.Higa@va.gov
University of Hawaii, Manoa- Selina Higa ,Selina.Higa@va.gov

IDAHO

Boise State University- Sean Burlile, Sean.Burlile@va.gov

ILLINOIS

Southwestern Illinois College- open
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign- Delmar Rhodes, Delmar.Rhodes1@va.gov

KANSAS

Johnson County Community College- Jonathan Grant,  Jonathan.Grant@va.gov
University of Kansas- Angela Brazil, Angela.Brazil@va.gov

KENTUCKY

Eastern Kentucky University- Steven Johnson, Steven.C.Johnson@va.gov
Elizabethtown Community & Technical College- Shannon Francis,   Shannon.Francis@va.gov
University of Kentucky- Joel Andrade, Joel.Andrade@va.gov
Bluegrass Community & Technical College- Joel Andrade, Joel.Andrade@va.gov

MARYLAND

University of Maryland, Global Campus- Diane Wilson, Diane.Wilson2@va.gov

MICHIGAN

Kalamazoo Valley Community College- Brent Haddow, Brent.Haddow@va.gov
Kellogg Community College- Brent Haddow, Brent.Haddow@va.gov
Western Michigan University- Brent Haddow, Brent.Haddow@va.gov
Eastern Michigan University- Jonathan Cugini, Jonathan.Cugini@va.gov
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor- Jonathan Cugini, Jonathan.Cugini@va.gov
Washtenaw Community College- Jonathan Cugini, Jonathan.Cugini@va.gov

MISSISSIPPI

University of Southern Mississippi- Steven Welch,  Steven.Welch@va.gov

MISSOURI

Webster University, St. Louis- Jason Blakemore, Jason.Blakemore@va.gov

NEBRASKA

Bellevue University- Melvin Neail, Melvin.Neail@va.gov
University of Nebraska, Omaha- Melvin Neail, Melvin.Neail@va.gov

NEVADA

University of Nevada, Las Vegas- Justin Whipple, Justin.Whipple@va.gov

NEW JERSEY

Rutgers University- Valerie Williams, Valerie.Williams1@va.gov
Middlesex County College- Valerie Williams, Valerie.Williams1@va.gov

NEW MEXICO

University of New Mexico- Philip Maranon, Philip.Maranon@va.gov

NEW YORK

Syracuse University- Philip Maranon, Philip.Maranon@va.gov
Nassau Community College- Leslie Monsen, Leslie.Monsen@va.gov
Suffolk County Community College- Leslie Monsen, Leslie.Monsen@va.gov

NORTH CAROLINA

East Carolina University- Jaqueline Henry, Jaqueline.Henry@va.gov
Fayetteville Technical Community College- April C. Riley,   April.Riley@va.gov

OHIO

Cleveland State University-George Ackerman, George.Ackerman@va.gov
The Ohio State University- Edward Mathews, Edward.Mathews2@va.gov
University of Cincinnati- Jill Cochran, Jill.Cochran@va.gov

OKLAHOMA

Cameron University- Alfred Finch,  Alfred.Finch@va.gov

OREGON

Portland State University- Alexandra Birmingham, Alexandra.Birmingham@va.gov

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Area Community College- Gail Hrobuchak, Gail.Hrobuchak@va.gov

RHODE ISLAND

Community College of Rhode Island- Micaela Black-Estrella, Micaela.Black@va.gov
Rhode Island College- Micaela Black-Estrella, Micaela.Black@va.gov

SOUTH CAROLINA

Midlands Technical College- Catina Booker, Catina.Booker@va.gov

TENNESSEE

Middle Tennessee State University- Heather Conrad, Heather.Conrad@va.gov
Austin Peay State University, Clarksville- Christina Hicks, Christina.Hicks2@va.gov

TEXAS

University of Texas, San Antonio- Wendy Foster, Wendy.Foster@va.gov
Sam Houston State University- Roberta Ardoin, Roberta.Ardoin@va.gov
San Antonio College- Sylvia Rodriguez, Sylvia.Rodriguez1@va.gov
Lone Star College System, University Park- open
Houston Community College- Chandra Arceneaux, Chandra.Arceneaux@va.gov 
University of Houston- Ralph Harrison, Ralph.Harrison@va.gov
Texas A&M University, Central Texas- Greg Primas, Gregory.Primas@va.gov
Tarrant County College, South- Ronald Christy, Ronald.Christy@va.gov
Tarrant County College, Northeast- Denise Edwards, Denise.Edwards@va.gov
Central Texas College- James Morgan, James.Morgan3@va.gov
Texas A&M University, College Station- Jimmy Rogers, Jim.Rogers2@va.gov
Austin Community College- Brad Robichaux, Brad.Robichaux@va.gov
University of Texas, Arlington- Tyrrell Biggers, Tyrrell.Biggers@va.gov

UTAH

Salt Lake Community College- Mike Foster, Michael.Foster@va.gov
University of Utah- Jason Carter, Jason.Carter2@va.gov
Weber State University- Drew Bickel, Drew.Bickel@va.gov

VIRGINIA

George Mason University- Valerie Smith Valerie.Smith11@va.gov
Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria- Johnathan.Keefe, Johnathan.Keefe@va.gov
Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale- Johnathan.Keefe, Johnathan.Keefe@va.gov
Norfolk State University- Robbyn.Spencer-Bennett, Robbyn.Spencer-Bennett@va.gov
Tidewater Community College, Norfolk- Robbyn.Spencer-Bennett, Robbyn.Spencer-Bennett@va.gov
Tidewater Community College, Chesapeake- Latwice Foster, Latwice.Foster@va.gov
Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth- Latwice Foster, Latwice.Foster@va.gov
Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach- open
Old Dominion University – Jerry Roth, Jerry.Roth@va.gov
ECPI University – open
Liberty University – Lora Nichols, Lora.Nichols@va.gov
St. Leo University, South Hampton – open

WISCONSIN

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – Patrick Grube,  Patrick.Grube@va.gov

 

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Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Where Credit is Due: Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Get credit for your military service and earn a great degree at one of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer.

Distinguished Military Careers and the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Military training, courses, and specialty schools can transfer to college credits. Approximately 1,700 colleges and universities provide military college credit transfer for military experience. To get started, request a copy of your military Joint Services Transcript. For the Air Force, you will need to obtain your CCAF Transcript instead of the JST.

List of Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

University of Florida

A Leader in Education

As one of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, UF boasts a 60% graduation rate. UF is consistently ranked as one of the best public universities and ranks high on “Best of” lists including:

  • #1 Best Colleges in Florida (Niche)
  • #6 in Top Public Schools (US News)
  • #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)
  • #30 in National Universities (US News)

UF is a GI Bill approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for the CLEP exams. The University of Florida also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Arizona State University

Top Ranked

One of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, ASU has a great 60% graduation rate. ASU offers an abundance of campus-based degrees, over 80 online bachelor’s degree programs and nearly as many master’s programs. ASU offers the same excellent curriculum and instruction on campus and online. ASU consistently receives top national accolades including:

  • America’s Best Value College (Forbes)
  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Business Programs (US News)
  • #6 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs (US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs (US News)
  • #10 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration Programs (US News)

ASU is a GI Bill approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for both the DSST and the CLEP exams. ASU also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

University of Virginia

Top Ranked for Veterans

The University of Virginia has an astounding 85% graduation rate. It consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

  • #10 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)
  • #10 in Online Graduate Programs (US News)
  • #3 Top Public Universities in America (Niche)
  • #26 in National Universities (US News)
  • #32 in Best Value Schools (US News)
  • #4 in Top Public Schools (US News)
  • #7 in Business Schools (US News)

The University of Virginia is a GI Bill approved school and participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. The University of Virginia proudly offers college credit for military experience.

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. UCLA proudly offers credit for military experience.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Best Historically Black College and University

One of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer is also one of the Best HBCUs. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M or FAMU) offers a variety of campus-based and online degrees including undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional programs.

FAMU is a well-known HBCU and receives many accolades including:

  • #20 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News)
  • #20 in Best Colleges for Criminal Justice in America (Niche)
  • #3 in Best HBCU Schools in America (Niche)

Florida A & M is a GI Bill approved school, and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams. FAMU also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Oregon State University

Best Kept Secret

Oregon State University offers an abundance of programs including more than 200 undergraduate-degree programs and over 85 online programs. As one of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, Oregon State consistently receives top national accolades including:

  • #3 Best Online Colleges in America (Niche)
  • #4 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #3 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs(US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)
  • #16 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs(US News)

Oregon State University is a GI Bill approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and offers credit for the CLEP exam. Oregon State also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Pennsylvania State University

Best Overall

Pennsylvania State University is a four-year, public institution with multiple campuses spread out through the state of Pennsylvania. The university is also known for its World Campus where students can earn their Penn State degree online, from anywhere in the world! Penn State World Campus offers over 120 Master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Its campus-based programs include more than 275 undergraduate majors and more than 300 graduate and professional programs.

As one of the Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, Penn State consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Programs(US News)
  • #4 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs (US News)
  • #5 in Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online MBA Programs (US News)
  • #8 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs (US News)
  • #10 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)

Penn State World Campus is a GI Bill approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for the DSST exam. Penn State World Campus proudly offers college credit for military experience.

 

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Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) & Dependent Payments Increase Oct 2021

For Veterans using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), on October 1, 2021, your benefit payments are set to increase by an average of 2.6% over the previous year’s rates.

MGIB Active Duty – Chapter 30

In 2020, the rate for a full-time student was $2,122, while a half-time student received $1061. The new rates for 2021 are $2150 for full-time students, and $1075 for those veterans attending half-time training. That’s an additional $28 and $14, respectively.

View the full 2022 Active Duty MGIB rates. The rates listed above apply to students attending institutes of higher learning. If your training takes another format, review the chart for more information.

 

MGIB Selected Reserves – Chapter 1606

Beginning 1 October, those full-time student veterans using the MGIB Selected Reserves will see an increase in your monthly benefit to $407, a $10 increase. Half-time students will see their benefits move up to $203.

View the full 2022 Selected Reserve MGIB rates. Again, the rates highlighted above are for students attending colleges or universities. The rate charts will also show other training formats and their respective increases, if any.

 

Survivors and Dependents Under Chapter 35

For those of you who may be using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ benefits given under Chapter 35, your full-time institutional rate will be $1298 beginning 1 October. That’s a bump of $33 per month. Half-time rates will be $753 per month.

View the full 2022 Chapter 35 chart for survivors and dependents.

RELATED: VA Benefits for Family Members, Survivors, and Caretakers

MGIB Buy-up & REAP Rates

If you participated in the MGIB $600 Buy-up program, check out the $600 buy-up rate table to see any changes that may apply to your monthly benefit payments.

RELATED: Military Benefits Changes for 2021

Additional Information

If you’re looking for specific information on your current or future rates, or even your eligibility for education benefits, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs by calling 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551), between the hours of 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday thru Friday.

If you’re calling from overseas, use 001-918-781-5678 to get connected to a customer service representative.

RELATED: 2021 Military Retiree and VA Disability Pay Increase

(Image courtesy of Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock.com)

 

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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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12 States With the Most Unclaimed Veterans Education Benefits

Don’t Forget These Veterans Education Benefits in These 12 States

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs published information about the most underused benefits, as reported by each state’s veterans department. The following states reported that these education benefits were the most underused by veterans.

Florida

The Deputy Executive Director of Florida’s Department of Veterans Affairs, James S. Hartsell, explained that, “Florida waives undergraduate-level tuition at state universities and community colleges for Florida recipients of the Purple Heart and other combat-related decorations superior in precedence to the Purple Heart.” This benefit also applied to the state’s career and technical training facilities. Learn more about Florida’s education benefits for veterans.

For more info, please go here.

Iowa

The Brandstead-Reynolds Scholarship Program receives the least applications each year from this state. This program provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children of deceased military service members who died on active duty after September 11th, 2001. Another underused program is the War Orphan Tuition Assistance Program.

For more info, please go here.

Maine

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services reported that the most underused benefit offered by their state is the Veterans Dependent Education Benefit, which is only offered to those veterans who have received a 100% Permanent and Total Disability rating. David Richmond, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans’ Services, explained that “dependents and spouses of qualifying veterans are provided 100% waiver of tuition and all mandatory fees for spouses and dependents of veterans at all University of Maine System Schools, Maine Community Colleges, and Maine Maritime Academy.” He laments that many veterans who qualify do not use the benefit.

For more info, please go here.

Michigan

The Children of Veterans Tuition Grant, which provides undergraduate tuition assistance to students aged 17-25 who are the natural or adopted child of a Michigan veteran, is this state’s most underused benefit. The director of Michigan’s Veterans Affairs Agency, Zaneta Adams,  explained that a veteran must have died or have become permanently disabled as a result of their military service. “The families of our veterans are just as important to us as our veterans, which is why we want to ensure that they take advantage of all their benefits,” she said.

For more info, please go here.

Minnesota

Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs reported that the Minnesota GI Bill was among the least used benefits by veterans in his state. The program provides a maximum benefit of $10,000, up to age 62, for any eligible Minnesota veterans, currently serving military, National Guard and Reserve members who served after September 11, 2001, and eligible spouses and children. Participants can use the benefit at institutes of higher education, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or licensing and certification.

For more info, please go here.

Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs reported that their most underused state benefit is the Reservist Tuition Credit. Under this program, Nebraska residents who are enlisted members of the Nebraska-based unit of the Active Selected Reserve may be eligible for a 50% tuition credit to the University of Nebraska campuses, state colleges and community colleges.

For more info, please go here.

Ohio

Sean McCarthy, assistant director of Ohio’s Department of Veterans Services, explained that “[t]he Ohio National Guard offers tuition assistance at over 150 Ohio colleges and universities for Veterans who serve in an enlisted drilling status with the Guard – up to four semesters of full time tuition for a three year commitment, and up to eight semesters for a six-year commitment. If you’re transitioning out of the active service and join the Ohio National Guard, this benefit would net you some excellent college time!

For more info, please go here.

Rhode Island

This state’s Office of Veterans Services reported that the most underused benefit is for eligible active duty military and veterans to receive in-state tuition rates at University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College “immediately upon establishing residence in Rhode Island.” Wow! No waiting period. That’s fantastic!

For more info, please go here.

South Carolina

South Carolina provides free tuition or education assistance for qualified children of certain military veterans applying to or enrolled in a South Carolina state supported college, university, or post-secondary technical education program. This waiver can also apply to acceptance into dual enrollment/early college credit programs prior to graduating high school. Certain residency requirements must be met.

For more info, please go here.

South Dakota

Education benefits are the most underused portion of South Dakota’s suite of veterans benefits. Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages all veterans of the state to contact their local county or tribal veterans service officers, or the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs office (605-773-3269) to learn more about their benefits, or visit the link above to visit their benefits website.

For more info, please go here.

Tennessee

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has a goal of becoming the “most veteran friendly higher education system in the nation”. They believe that the military training you have endured should be appropriately recognized at the college level. Using their TN-SOP tool, Tennessee is providing a head start to veterans on obtaining college credentials.

This tool is actually pretty cool. First, I selected my branch of service. Then, I entered my MOS (11B Infantryman), then my highest pay grade, and finally the date of my initial training. With that information, the SOP tool populated a list of Tennessee colleges and universities with the amount of transfer credits I’d be eligible to receive. For example, Middle Tennessee University would grant me 18 credit hours with just my MOS. That six less classes I would need to take for a degree program. Please check this tool out!

For more info, please go here.

Wyoming

Tim Sheppard, executive director of the Wyoming Veterans Commission, said that the most underused benefit for his state is the honorary high school diploma. “We haven’t had a request in over three years.”

Here’s how it works: “The following personnel who have attended a Wyoming high school, entered military service on these specified dates (shown below) prior to completing necessary high school graduation requirements, and who did not receive a high school diploma, may apply to the state superintendent of public instruction for an honorary high school diploma.”

An honorably discharged veteran of:

  • World War II who served in the U.S. military between December 8, 1941 and August 14, 1945.
  • The Korean War, who served in the U.S. military between June 27, 1950 and July 28, 1953.
  • The Vietnam War, who served in the U.S. military between February 28, 1961 and August 15, 1973.

While this is not the typical education benefit, it is one of my favorites. It reminds us that there are citizens among us who stopped their whole lives to fight for our country. Some of them were only in high school when they made that choice. I commend Wyoming for this benefit.

Importance of Education Benefits

To sum up this piece, I want to make it clear that most states have tremendous benefits available to their veterans and service members. The ones listed above reported an underuse of their state’s education benefits. So, if you are veteran of any of these states, please take advantage of these amazing opportunities!

(Image courtesy of Hong Qi Zhang via 123rf.com)

 

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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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Veteran Education Benefits: VA’s FAQ’s

VA FAQ’s: Covid and Education Benefits

For many of you, the fall semester has started and you may have some questions regarding conflicts between your school’s response to COVID-19 and your VA education benefits.

This is a summary of all the FAQs the VA has answered and posted online. On March 21, 2020, President Trump signed S.3503 into law which gave the VA temporary and emergency authority to continue your GI Bill payments.

In essence, the new law allows the VA to continue providing your hard-earned benefits, even if a program transitioned from residential to an online format, even if the online training has not yet been approved.

GI Bill students will continue receiving housing allowance payments at the resident training rate until December, 21, 2020, or until a school resumes normal, residential training. The following questions relate to this information.

My school changed my program from residential to online classes. Can I still get GI Bill benefits for this?

Based on S.3503, if you were in a previously approved residential program that was transitioned to an online format in response to COVID-19, you will not see a reduction in monthly housing payments.

Other types of changes may affect your payments. For example, a change in enrollment, such as dropping a class, will likely reduce your monthly payments.

RELATED: New GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance for 2020/21 Academic Year

What happens to my housing allowance if my school changes from residential to online classes due to COVID-19?

Post-9/11 GI Bill students whose schools converted previously approved residential courses to an online course format will not see a reduction in payment amounts. Current and new beneficiaries will receive the resident housing rate when in school from March 1, 2020, to December 21, 2020.

RELATED: Post-9/11 GI Bill Payment Rate Changes For 2020 / 2021

If I am unable to attend school due to COVID-19, but my school is in session, will I still receive my education benefits?

The VA can and will pay you through the last date of attendance, but not through the end of the term. This may result in a prorated “tuition and fees” debt and a housing overpayment for you.

If you do acquire a debt for this situation, you may request a waiver once you are notified of the debt to the VA. Here’s the link for the Waiver Request.

What happens if my school is temporarily closed?

If your school is temporarily closed, the VA will continue to pay your benefits through the end of the term, or for 28 days, whichever is sooner.

What happens when my school’s resident lab portion of a course is canceled or marked incomplete due to COVID-19 and the school does not allow me to move to the next class in the degree program?

The VA has no authority to intervene in these situations, even in response to COVID-19. Schools will still follow their “Incomplete” grading policy and apply it where a course’s lab is deemed incomplete. Once a school is willing and able to resume lab classes, you will be allowed to complete the lab portion of your program without further needing to report to the VA.  However, if the course that is on hold due to a lab requirement is a prerequisite for a future course, you will not be permitted to enroll in that course until the prerequisite is complete.

Not all schools have an “Incomplete” policy, and in this case your school should withdraw you from the course based on the date of your last attendance. In some cases, a withdrawal of this nature will affect your monthly housing allowance.

Will the VA pay for my benefits if my school changes from a standard grade scale (A, B, C…) to a Pass/Fail or other grading system in response to COVID-19?

This depends on the grading policy your school has implemented. Since the VA’s rules concerning failing grades have not changed, you should check with your school’s certify official (SCO) for clarification.

What happens if my OJT or Apprenticeship establishment changes to online instruction?

If your training facility can change to an online format, you will continue to receive your regular monthly housing payment.

What if I can’t work for my Apprenticeship because I was furloughed?

If your training facility remains open but you must stop training (due to furlough, illness), the VA can only pay education benefits through the last day of your training.

What happens if my establishment ceases trainee program training due to COVID-19?

If the facility that employs you temporarily ceases operations, the VA can continue paying trainees their monthly housing through the end of the program or 28 days, whichever comes first.

I’m experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and owe a debt to the VA. Is there any relief for me?

The VA’s Debt Management Center (DMC) is currently offering the following options:

  • They can completely suspend debt collection until a later date. (Their website says May 2020, which is inaccurate since that date has passed)
  • They can establish an extended repayment plan without the submission of additional financial documentation.

The DMC encourages anyone affected by COVID-19 who has a benefit debt with the VA to contact the Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648 to request assistance.

If you have questions about your specific circumstances, please contact the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551, Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 7 PM Eastern Time. You can also submit your question electronically.

(Image courtesy of kzenon via 123rf.com)

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States Offering In-State Tuition for Veterans After 3 Years from Discharge

States that Offer Veterans In-State Tuition Benefits

The Choice Act requires schools to allow non-resident veterans to qualify for in-state tuition for up to 3 years after their military service has ended.

For veterans to qualify for in-state tuition, they must use their Post 9/11 GI Bill within 3 years of separation from active duty service.

Beyond the Choice Act

While all states meet the Choice Act requirement and 27 states have passed laws that make veteran students eligible for in-state tuition beyond the 3-year limit, confusing and inconsistent laws remain in multiple states.

It stands to reason that amending the Choice Act will ensure that veterans have full access to the GI Bill benefit.

States That Offer Resident Tuition Beyond 3 Years to Veterans

All schools provide in-state tuition beyond the 3-year cap for veterans unless otherwise specified.

  • Florida – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Maine
  • Maryland – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • New Jersey – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • New Mexico – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio – provides additional in-state tuition option called “GI Promise.”  Requires one year of active duty.
  • Oregon – attend public university and show evidence of physical presence in state within 12 months of enrollment
  • Pennsylvania – veterans and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap at state-related and state-owned institutions of higher learning including community colleges
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota – provides free tuition for some veterans
  • Tennessee – at public university
  • Texas – requires proof of intent to live in Texas
  • Utah – for veterans and their immediate families attending USHE institution that live within the state or have proof of intent to live in Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

States Granting Tuition with Limits Beyond 3 Years

These states are Choice Act compliant, however while they exceed Choice Act requirements, they are still inconsistent with the Forever GI Bill.

  • Alabama – Eligible for in-state tuition up to 5 years. After 5 years, veterans may qualify for in-state tuition if they live within 90 miles of an Alabama campus or attend an individual university that allows in-state tuition for active duty service members or veterans.
  • Alaska – University of Alaska system provides waiver for veterans eligible for the VA education benefit, their spouses, and dependents.  However, other public schools in Alaska do not.
  • Colorado – GI Promise Act offers in-state tuition adjustments, but not all veterans may qualify.
  • Connecticut – Covers 100% of tuition costs for veterans beyond the 3 year limit.
  • Delaware – University of Delaware provides waivers for qualified veterans. Offers benefits to dependents of POW or those MIA/KIA.
  • Georgia – Veterans are eligible for in-state tuition for up to 10 years.
  • Idaho – Veterans who meet requirements outlined in state statutes are eligible for non-resident tuition rates. These requirements are not consistent with the Choice Act.
  • New York – Veterans using Chapter 31 or 33 qualify for in-state tuition.
  • Nevada – Veterans and dependents are eligible for in-state tuition up to 5 years after separation from active duty.
  • Oklahoma – Veterans are eligible for in-state tuition for up to 5 years after separation from active duty.
  • US Virgin Islands – University of the Virgin Islands Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Program provides free tuition to qualifying veterans.
  • Washington – State law lets individual institutions determine their own waiver program requirements and requires residency for in-state tuition.

States That Do Not Grant Resident Tuition Beyond 3 Years

These states are Choice Act compliant, but do not grant resident tuition beyond the Choice Act requirements.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas – Scholarships for spouses and dependents of POWs or those MIA/KIA.
  • California – Offers tuition waivers to active duty service members, those living in the state a year prior to discharge, and dependents
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana – Indiana University System provides in-state tuition to any veteran who enrolls and establishes residency within a year of separation from active duty.
  • Louisiana – Act 581 provides an alternative avenue for in-state tuition with more strict requirements than the Choice Act. Disabled veterans and dependents qualify for in-state tuition.
  • Massachusetts – Offers waivers for those who qualify as veterans and permanent legal residents under state law.
  • Missouri – Missouri Returning Heroes Act provides a $50 per credit hour cap on tuition rates for qualified combat veterans. Dependents of active duty service members and veterans are eligible for in-state tuition.
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • West Virginia – Only public universities comply with the Choice Act. Read West Virginia Veteran Benefits for more information.
  • South Carolina
  • New Hampshire – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • Vermont – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • Washington, DC
  • Wyoming

Choice Act Ready for an Upgrade

Legislation surrounding the GI Bill can be confusing and differ from state to state. Amending the Choice Act can support congruence between this act and the Forever GI Bill.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (Forever GI Bill) of 2017 allows veterans to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at any time after separation from active duty service.

Section 702 of the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability (Choice) Act of 2014 requires schools to provide in-state tuition to eligible student veterans in order for the school to receive GI Bill funding.

 

For more detailed information on state-by-state benefits, refer to State Veterans Benefits for all 50 States and Territories.

 

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Congress to Stop Coronavirus from Impacting GI Bill BAH Payments

Congress Has Announced Plans to Stop Coronavirus’ Impact on GI Bill Rates

Update 03/21/2020: The legislation to protect veterans from the impact of campus closures has been signed by President Trump, thus safeguarding GI Bill benefits (Housing Stipend) from being reduced for veterans who were forced to take classes online due to the coronavirus.

House and Senate lawmakers have introduced bills that could stop the impact of the coronavirus on GI Bill rates (Housing Stipends) for student veterans whose colleges and universities are forced to switch to online classes in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Reaction to Shifting to Online Classes

Congress is reacting to the recent news that many institutions have announced the shift to online classes following the cancellation of classroom based courses for the remainder of the spring semester.

“No student veteran, dependent, or spouse should be worried about their GI Bill benefits being reduced or cut off because of actions their school is taking in response to COVID-19,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. Rep. Roe’s bill, introduced as H.R.6194, is currently being debated in the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

The GI Bill Housing Stipend is determined by several factors, the biggest of which is whether the classes are on-campus or online. The current rate for online classes is set at $894.50, which is half of the national average housing rate paid to classroom based students.

Bills Would Protect Students’ Housing Allowances When Forced to Switch

The Senate and House bills would likely protect students who are forced to switch to online courses, but they are not likely to provide that protection for students who elect to switch to online-only classes.

Stay tuned, we will update Congress’ efforts to avoid the Coronavirus’ impact on GI Bill.

 

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Guide to Veterans’ Preference Points – What is Veterans Preference Points?

Considering going to work for the Federal Government after you leave the military?  Then knowing how Veterans’ preference points work is a must. The following guide will help you take advantage of this hiring preference program for veterans.

Veterans’ Preference Points Fast FAQs

Fast FAQ #1: What do Veterans’ preference points do?

Veterans’ preference points can help you land a government job by making you more competitive when competing head-to-head with a more or equally qualified civilian candidate.

Fast FAQ #2: Do Veterans preference points work for all government jobs?

No, not all government jobs use a competitive point system for hiring. You will be notified if preference points are used when you apply for a federal position.

Fast FAQ #3: Do state and local governments use the federal Veterans’ preference points system?

No, however, many states, counties, and cities do have their own ways of giving Veterans preference.

Fast FAQ #4: How many points would I get?

The answer really depends on where you land within the 3 levels or types of preference: The three types of Veterans preference are:

0 Point Preference: You would get a 0-point preference if you were released or discharged from active duty after August 29, 2008, because you were the only surviving child in a family in which a parent or a sibling(s) either served in the armed forces, and was killed, or is permanently 100 percent disabled or hospitalized on a continuing basis. (See more details below)

5 Point Preference: You are eligible for a 5-point preference if your time on active duty was more than 180 consecutive days during a time of conflict (specific service dates and criteria are listed below).

10 Point Preference: You are eligible for a 10-point preference if you served at any time, and you have a service-connected disability, or received a Purple Heart.

Fast FAQ #5: If I am eligible for 0-point preference does it mean that I don’t get Veterans’ preference?

No, it simply means that no points are added to your passing score, but you are entitled to be listed ahead of other non-preference candidates with the same score on an examination.

Fast FAQ #6: How do I apply for Veterans preference points?

You will be required to provide the following acceptable documentation to apply for Veterans preference:

  • Copy of your DD-214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions. OR
  • “Certification” from the armed forces that certifies you are expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is signed; OR
  • Standard Form (SF-15 (PDF file)), Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference. If you are claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit an (SF-15 (PDF file)).

You may obtain a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs reflecting your level of disability for preference eligibility by visiting a VA Regional Office, contacting a VA call center or online.

Fast FAQ #7: How do the preference points apply to my hiring?

In federal jobs called “competitive service” jobs, agencies use a numerical rating and ranking system to determine the best qualified applicants for a position. As a Veteran you may have an additional 5 or 10 points are added to your numerical score. However, their several other types of Federal Government jobs. Details on all the ways Veterans preference is applied will be addressed below.

Veterans Preference Points in Detail

Veterans preference points apply when agencies use a numerical rating and ranking system to determine the best qualified applicants for a position.  An additional 5 or 10 points are added to the numerical score of qualified preference eligible veterans.

Veterans preference points are designed to ensure that if you apply for a federal job and you served on active duty during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns, you are entitled to preference over non-veterans both in hiring from competitive lists and in retention during reductions in force.

In addition, the VOW Act (Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011), ensures that as a veteran you have an opportunity for Veterans’ preference even before you leave the military.

If you apply before your ETS you can receive consideration as a preference eligible veteran, if you can provide a certification that you are expected to be discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions no later than 120 days from the date of the certification; the circumstances of the discharge are verified at the time of actual appointment.

Keep in mind that Veterans preference only applies to veterans that were discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions. This means you must have been discharged under an honorable or general discharge.

If you are a “retired member of the armed forces” you are not included in the definition of preference eligible unless you are a disabled veteran OR you retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.

Types of Preference Eligibility in Detail

There are basically three types of preference eligibility, sole survivorship (0-point preference eligible), non-disabled (5-point preference eligible) and disabled (10-point preference eligible).

0 Point Preference:

You are eligible for a 0-point preference if you were released or discharged from a period of active duty from the armed forces, after August 29, 2008, by reason of being the only surviving child in a family in which the father or mother or one or more siblings:

  1. Served in the armed forces, and
  2. Was killed, died as a result of wounds, accident, or disease, is in a captured or missing in action status, or is permanently 100 percent disabled or hospitalized on a continuing basis (and is not employed gainfully because of the disability or hospitalization), where
  3. The death, status, or disability did not result from the intentional misconduct or willful neglect of the parent or sibling and was not incurred during a period of unauthorized absence.

Note: No points are added to the passing score or rating of 0-point preference eligible, but you are entitled to be listed ahead of non-preference eligible with the same score on an examination, or in the same quality category.

5 Point Preference:

You are eligible for a 5-point preference if your active duty service meets any of the following:

  1. For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on August 31, 2010, the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR
  2. During the Gulf War, between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, OR
  3. For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976, OR
  4. Between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955 OR
  5. In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal or badge has been authorized.

10 Point Preference:

You are eligible for a 10-point preference if you served at any time, and you:

  1. have a service connected disability, OR
  2. received a Purple Heart.

Other Veteran Hiring Programs You Should Know About

Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA)

Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows an agency to non-competitively appoint an eligible veteran. If you:

  • Served during a war or are in receipt of a campaign badge for service in a campaign or expedition, OR
  • are a disabled veteran, OR
  • are in receipt of an Armed Forces Service Medal (includes the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal) for participation in a military operation, OR
  • are a recently separated veteran (within 3 years of discharge), AND
  • separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge).

You can be appointed under this authority at any grade level up to and including a GS-11 or equivalent. This is an excepted service appointment. Upon satisfactory completion of 2 years of substantially continuous service, you will be converted to the competitive service. If an agency has two or more VRA candidates and at least one is preference eligible, the Veterans’ preference procedures of 5 CFR, part 302 of OPM’s regulations must be applied when using the VRA authority.

Agencies may also use VRA to fill temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year but not to exceed 4 years) positions. If you are employed in a temporary or term position under VRA, you will not be converted to the competitive service after 2 years.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under VRA, as long as you meet the definition of a covered veteran under applicable law.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15 (PDF file)), “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

30% or More Disabled Veteran

The 30% or More Disabled Veteran authority allows an agency to non-competitively appoint any veteran with a 30% or more service-connected disability.

You are eligible if you:

  • retired from active military service with a service-connected disability rating of 30% or more, OR
  • have a rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs showing a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.

This authority can be used to make temporary (at least 60 days but not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year, but not more than 4) appointments in the competitive service. There is no grade level restriction. There is no requirement that you be converted to a permanent position, but an agency has the authority to convert such a position to a permanent position if it chooses to do so.

The agency would first place you on a time limited appointment of at least 60 days and could then convert that appointment to a permanent appointment at management’s discretion. When the authority is used to meet a time-limited need, however, you will not be converted to a permanent appointment.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15 (PDF file)), “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program

Disabled veterans eligible for training under the VA vocational rehabilitation program may enroll for training or work experience at an agency under the terms of an agreement between the agency and VA. While enrolled in the VA program, the veteran is not a Federal employee for most purposes but is a beneficiary of the VA.

Training is tailored to the individual’s needs and goals, so there is no set length. If the training is intended to prepare the individual for eventual appointment in the agency rather than just provide work experience, the agency must focus the training on enabling the veteran to meet the qualification requirements for the position.

Upon successful completion, the host agency and VA give the veteran a Certificate of Training showing the occupational series and grade level of the position for which trained. The Certificate of Training allows any agency to appoint the veteran noncompetitively under a status quo appointment which may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time.

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans are just that…designed for veterans. Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility will enhance your job search. These special authorities represent a few of many appointing authorities that agencies can use entirely at their discretion. Veterans are not entitled to appointment under any of these authorities. Check the vacancy announcements, which should clearly state “Who May Apply.”

Go to Feds Hire Vets for U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Governmentwide Veterans Employment Website

Schedule A Hiring

Though not specifically for veterans, the Schedule A authority for Persons With Intellectual Disabilities, Severe Physical Disabilities and Psychiatric Disabilities, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), is an excepted authority that agencies can use to appoint eligible veterans who have a severe physical, psychological, or intellectual disability.

 

 

States Offering Free College Tuition for Veterans & Dependents

States with Free Tuition for Veterans and Their Dependents

One part of raising children is figuring out how you will pay for college when the day comes. As a military service member, you probably wonder how your time in service can help. Or, as a veteran, you might be curious about your state and if they offer any tuition waivers for veterans. The good news is, certain states do provide free college to veterans and veterans dependents in military friendly colleges or at other higher education institutions

States with Education Benefits for Military and Veteran Dependents

Here’s a quick list if you’re looking for information about states that offer education benefits to dependents of veterans.  For more info, click on the state name to jump directly to your state.

States with Free College for Disabled Veteran Dependents

The following states offering specific education benefits for the dependents of disabled veterans:

States that Offer Free College for Disabled Veterans’ Dependents

Some states offer free college for disabled veterans and dependents.

Alaska

The dependents of service members who are Alaska residents, and died in the line of duty, listed by the DoD as a POW, or killed in action, are entitled to a waiver of undergraduate tuition and fees.

Arizona

In Arizona, there is a tuition waiver. Dependent children up to the age of 30 of an Arizona National Guard member or US Armed Forces member, who were members of the state of Arizona, or stationed in Arizona and were killed in the line of duty or who died from injuries that were suffered in the line of duty while traveling to or from duty qualify.

Service members who have been medically discharged from the military or those with a Purple Heart and whose disability rating determined by the US Department of Virginia is 50% or more.

Kentucky

Kentucky has a tuition waiver for the following:

  • Children
  • Stepchildren
  • Spouses
  • Un-remarried widows or widowers

These benefits may be used towards 2-year, 4-year or vocational schools funded by the Kentucky Department of Education.

In order to qualify, one of the following must be true of the veteran:

  • Died on active duty
  • Died as a result of service-connected disability (determined by VA)
  • 100% service-connected disabled
  • Totally disabled (not service-connected) with wartime service
  • Is deceased, was KY resident at time of death, with wartime service
  • Social Security Administration award is not acceptable

NOTE: Applicant need not be KY resident

For more info, please go here.

Louisiana

Louisiana provides a state benefit for exemption of tuition and select fees for:

  • Surviving spouses of deceased or disabled war veterans
  • Children of veterans with at least a 90% service-disabled rating
  • Children of war veterans who have a 100% disability rating due to individual un-employability

This exemption is good for 4 years of schooling, as long as it is completed in not more than 5 years.  There is no age limit for a surviving spouse.  Children are eligible until the age of 25 and must attend on a full-time basis.

To apply please contact your local Parish Veterans Service Office. For more info please visit the website.

 

North Carolina

As a part of who can receive a scholarship, a child of a veteran must have a parent who must either be deceased, disabled, be a POW or be MIA, or a combat veteran. The veteran will have needed to meet the qualifying criteria during wartime.

South Dakota

Children of veterans who were KIA, or who have died of other causes while on active duty, are eligible for free tuition at a state-supported school. The child needs to be under the age of 25, be a resident of South Dakota, and the parent will have needed to have been a resident of South Dakota for at least six months immediately preceding entry into active service.

Texas

And when it comes to the Hazelwood Act in Texas, Spouses and dependent children of eligible service members, active duty, reserves, and the Texas National Guard who died in the line of duty or the result of an injury or illness related to military service qualify. Spouses and dependents of those who are missing in action, or who became totally disabled for purposes of employability as a result of a service-related injury or illness are also entitled.

Washington

Washington state will waive undergraduate tuition and fees, up to 200 quarter credits or equivalent semester credits for dependents of 100% disabled veterans who are eligible, at state community colleges, colleges, and universities.

 

If your state is not on this list, it is possible that it could be added in the future.

List of States Veterans and Dependents Education Benefits

Here is what you need to know about them broken down by state.

Alaska

In Alaska, National Guard members can receive up to 100% tuition assistance at any University of Alaska system schools.

The dependents of service members who are Alaska residents, and died in the line of duty, listed by the DoD as a POW, or killed in action, are entitled to a waiver of undergraduate tuition and fees.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, the state law provides that tuition at state educational institutions will be waived for certain veterans and certain dependents.

In order to qualify, veterans must be attending a state regional community or technical college, or a state university.

They must either be a veteran who served 90 days of active duty during a period of war, have been accepted to an approved institution, and be a Connecticut resident at the time of acceptance to the institution.

What about dependents?

A veteran’s dependents can also qualify for a tuition waiver if the veteran is declared missing in action while serving in the armed forces after January 1, 1960.

Florida

Florida has the Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program. This program will waive out-of-state tuition fees for all honorably discharged veterans who reside in the state and who are enrolled in Florida public, post-secondary institutions.

What about spouses and/or dependents?

This is also extended to spouses and dependent children who reside in Florida and who are using GI Bill benefits for enrollment in Florida Public, post-secondary institutions.

Illinois

Illinois has an Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG) Program that pays tuition and mandatory fees at all Illinois state-sponsored colleges, universities, and community colleges for eligible Illinois veterans.

In order to qualify, veterans must be:

  • an honorably discharged veteran
  • reside in Illinois
  • have at least one full year of active duty in the US armed forces, to include veterans who were assigned to active duty in a foreign country in a time of hostilities in that country regardless of the length of service
  • they must return to Illinois within 6 months of discharge from the service

See also

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, they have a tuition waiver for all Massachusetts veterans to all state colleges and universities. Veterans would need to be in an undergraduate degree program or certificate program, must also be a legal resident of Massachusetts, and must not be in default of any federal student loans. Veterans are eligible on a space-available basis for a waiver of full or partial tuition based on proper documentation of the eligibility of the veteran.

Members of the National Guard qualify for a waiver of both fees and tuition at all state colleges and universities.

Montana

Montana has a state veteran tuition waiver. If a veteran meets all of the eligibility requirements, they can get a waiver of registration and incidental fees.

In order to qualify, a veteran must have an honorable discharge from any branch of the US military, on active duty, other than training purposes. They must also be a state resident of Montana for fees and tuition purchases. They must have been VA education benefits must have been exhausted or expired and they must qualify under any of the following sections:

  1. Served December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946; June 22, 1950, to January 31, 1955; or January 1, 1964, to May 7, 1975.
  2. Qualified students who are working on an initial undergraduate degree and received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service after May 7, 1975.
  3. Qualified students who are working on an initial undergraduate degree and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal for service in the Persian Gulf between August 2, 1990, and April 11, 1991.
  4. Awarded the Kosovo Campaign Medal and working on their initial undergraduate degree.
  5. Served in a combat theatre in Afghanistan or Iraq after September 11, 2001, and received either the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal or the Iraq Campaign Medal and working on their initial undergraduate degree.

Veterans who qualify for this waiver can receive it for a total of 12 semesters and must maintain satisfactory progress as established by the Board of Regents for the Montana University System.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, they have the Wartime Veteran Scholarship Fund. This can be used by any veteran who has served in combat since 1990, and who has exhausted all of their available federal GI Education Benefit options. Eligible combat veterans are those who have served since 1990.

This scholarship is for tuition costs and books directly related to undergraduate and master’s degree work at a public New Mexico Institute of Higher Education.

Veterans will need to be residents of New Mexico for a minimum of 10 years and also awarded a medal for service in the Armed Forces of the United States in support of any US Military campaign or armed conflict as defined by Congress or presidential executive order for service after August 1, 1990.  This includes one of the following:

  • Southwest Asia Service Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  • Any other issued medal

New Mexico also has a Vietnam Veterans Scholarship. This is for veterans who have been residents of New Mexico for a minimum of 10 years, have served in Vietnam, and were issued the Vietnam Campaign or Service Medal are eligible.

This scholarship will pay full tuition and books at any state-funded post-secondary school.

New York

New York has the Veterans Tuition Awards that are managed by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC).

Awards are for full-time and part-time students for eligible veterans that matriculated at an undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution or in an approved vocational training program in New York state.

Veterans will need to be New York state residents, be discharged under honorable conditions and who are one of the following: Vietnam Veterans who served in Indochina between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, Persian Gulf Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf on or after August 2, 1990, Afghanistan Veterans who served in Afghanistan during hostilities on or after September 11, 2001, or Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in hostilities that occurred after February 28, 1961, as evidenced by receipt of an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal or a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.

North Carolina

North Carolina offers scholarships for children of veterans. They are eligible for a four-year scholarship at a North Carolina approved school. The veteran parent must either be deceased, disabled, be a POW or be MIA, or a combat veteran. The veteran will have needed to meet the qualifying criteria during wartime. The child must be under 25, be a natural child of a veteran, or be adopted before the age of 15, been born in North Carolina, and have been a resident of North Carolina since birth, and a current resident. The parent veteran will have needed to be a resident of North Carolina at the time of entry into the qualifying period of service, or the child will have needed to have been born in North Carolina and have lived exclusively in North Carolina.

South Carolina

South Carolina has a tuition program for children of certain war veterans. The benefit would be a tuition waiver at any state-sponsored university, college, or post-high school technical education institution.

Children need to be 26 years old or younger and need to be a child of a wartime veteran. They also need to be admitted to any state-supported college, university, or post-high school technical education institution free of tuition as long as their work and conduct are satisfactory. The veteran will also need to be a resident of South Carolina at the time of entry into service, be a resident during service and still be residing in the state, or have been a resident of the state for at least a year and still residing in the state. If the veteran is deceased, they would have had to reside in the state for at least one year before they passed. The veteran will have also had to have served honorably during a war period.

South Dakota

South Dakota provides for certain veterans to take undergraduate courses at a state-supported university.

Veterans must have been discharged under Honorable conditions, be a current resident of South Dakota and qualify for in-state tuition, and qualify as a veteran.

Qualifying as a veteran would mean serving on active duty any time between August 2, 1990, and a date to be determined, receiving an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or other United States campaign or service medal for participating in combat operations against hostile forces outside the boundaries of the US or having a service-connected disability rated 10% or more that is disabling.

Veterans who are eligible can receive one month of free tuition for each month of qualifying service with a minimum of one, up to a maximum of four academic years.

What about spouses and/or dependents?

Children of veterans who were KIA, or who have died of other causes while on active duty, are eligible for free tuition at a state-supported school. The child needs to be under the age of 25, be a resident of South Dakota, and the parent will have needed to have been a resident of South Dakota for at least six months immediately preceding entry into active service.

Tennessee

Tennessee has the Helping Heroes Grant which is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The award is for $1,000 per semester for a student who enrolls in 12 or more semester hours. Students will receive $500 per semester for 6-11 semester hours.

To be eligible, a veteran must be honorably discharged after serving in the US Armed Forces, or a former or current member of a reserve or Tennessee National Guard unit who has been called into active military service. They also must have been a Tennessee resident for one year preceding the date of application for the grant, be awarded Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, on or after Sept. 11, 2001, be enrolled at an eligible 2 or 4 years postsecondary institution, haven’t earned a baccalaureate degree yet, not in default of a federal or Tennessee educational loan, and other qualifications.

The grant may be awarded for a maximum of eight full semesters.

Texas

Texas has the Hazlewood Act, which is an education benefit offering up to 150 credit hours of tuition and most required fees at a state-supported college or university at no cost to the veteran.

In order to be eligible, the veteran must be a Texas resident upon entering military service, be classified as a resident by the institution for the term or semester they are applying for, have served at least 181 days on active duty service, have an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge, have no federal veterans’ education benefits. Or if they have benefits, they need to be less than the value of the tuition and fees for the term the veteran is applying for. They also can’t be in default of any student loans, either federal or those made or guaranteed by the State of Texas.

What about spouses and/or dependents?

Veterans who are eligible can assign or transfer unused hours of exemption eligibility to a child under certain conditions. In order to qualify, the child must be a Texas resident, be the biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or claimed as a dependent in the current or previous tax year, be 25 years old or younger on the first day of the semester that they are claiming the exemption for, and meet the GPA requirement of the program as well as not having an excessive amount of credit hours.

Spouses and dependent children of eligible service members, active duty, reserves, and the Texas National Guard who died in the line of duty or the result of an injury or illness related to military service qualify. Spouses and dependents of those who are missing in action, or who became totally disabled for purposes of employability as a result of a service-related injury or illness are also entitled.

Utah

Utah has the Veterans Tuition Gap Program. This enables qualifying military veterans to receive tuition assistance for the last school year at state institutions of higher education. This is for tuition only and does not include housing, books, or other expenses.

In order to qualify, veterans must be a Utah resident, admitted to a state school, have no previous degrees, and are eligible for Chapters 1606, 30, 31, 32, 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill, but have it be exhausted.

Washington

In Washington state, they have authorized state community colleges, colleges, and universities, to waive all or a portion of eligible veterans’ tuition and fees. This is to include national guard members. They must have served during a war or conflict, served in another country or international waters, or in support of those serving on foreign soil or in international waters. They also need to have an honorable discharge. They will also need to be a resident with Washington domiciliary.

What about spouses and/or dependents?

They also waive undergraduate tuition and fees, up to 200 quarter credits or equivalent semester credits for dependents of 100% disabled veterans who are eligible, at state community colleges, colleges, and universities.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, they have their own GI Bill. The Wisconsin GI Bill forgives full tuition and segregated fees for eligible veterans and their dependents for up to eight semesters or 128 credits, whichever is greater, at any University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System school. This is separate from the Federal GI Bill.

To be eligible the veteran must be a Wisconsin resident at the time of entry into active military service and be a resident for at least five consecutive years preceding the beginning of any semester or session for which they register at a qualifying institution.

What about spouses and/or dependents?

Eligible veteran’s spouses or children may use this benefit if the veteran has been awarded a service-connected disability rating of at least 30% or has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-connected ability.

To qualify a veteran must meet the following:

  • have served at least 90 days or more during a war period
  • have served on active duty at least two continuous years or full initial service obligation during peacetime
  • was honorably discharged because of a service-connected disability, a disability subsequently adjudicated to have been service-connected, or due to a reduction in the US Armed Forces
  • served in a designated crisis zone
  • received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Navy Expeditionary Medal, or a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, or an expeditionary or service medal equivalent to those already mentioned
  • served for any period under Section 1 of Executive Order 10957 dated August 10, 1961.

See also

Wyoming

Wyoming provides a veteran tuition benefit in the form of free tuition and fees for overseas combat veterans, surviving spouses, and their dependents.

There were some changes in 2018, so those that were currently enrolled would be entitled to full payment as well as the use of 10 semesters of education as long as their entitlements have been used by August 31, 2020. After that, all participants that are currently enrolled or those who enrolled after the summer 2018 semester will only be entitled to payment of tuition and will be limited to 8 semesters within an 8-year period.

 

One last item to note: Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, United States military veterans and their families may be eligible for college assistance grants and other educational benefits. With the help of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), these grants can be used to pay for education at any accredited college, vocational school, junior college, or university in the United States.

 

RELATED:

 

Discounts and Freebies for Military and Veterans

 

>> For more freebies and discounts, please make sure to sign up for the MyMilitaryBenefits discount newsletter for all kinds of ways for the military community to save.  It’s free!!

 

 

As a Student Veteran, You Already Have Everything You Need to Be Successful in College

You Already Have What a College Student Needs

A college degree is arguably the best way to reach your career goals, create new opportunities, find your dream job, and increase income. Unfortunately, the cost, time, and effort it takes to earn a degree can be overwhelming. But, thanks to your military experience you have a leg up in all three of those areas.

Let’s break it down this way:

The Cost Of A College Education

The cost of a college tuition alone can run over $40,000 a year. But, thanks to your military education benefits you can virtually eliminate the cost of higher education through programs like military tuition assistance and the GI Bill©.

The Time Required to Get a Degree

Earning a degree typically takes between 4 and 5 years. However, your military experience can reduce the number of classes needed to earn your degree through a program known as ACE (American Council on Education). ACE is used by schools to determine the number of college credits they can grant for your military training and experience.

The Effort Needed For Your Education

Unlike most freshman college students that have never had to push themselves through adversity, your training and experience in the military has given you the focus and tenacity to meet the demands of earning your degree.

Your combination of education benefits, life experience, and support programs will ensure your success as you prepare for going to college. So, don’t let your concerns about Money, Time and Effort slow you down.

 

RELATED:

 

 

Get A SMART Start On Your Education

Are you thinking about what’s next after the military? Planning your transition and reintegration can be daunting, but there are some steps you can take to make the process less stressful and increase your chances for a successful civilian life.

Planning For Change

Practically speaking, planning a career change is not unlike a planning military mission, it takes clearly defined objectives, strategic, logistic, and tactical planning – not to mention lots of support, rules of engagement, and an exit plan. The first thing you need to do is determine your objective – what you want to do in your post-military career. Whatever career choice you make, chances are it is going to require a degree, certification, or Licensure – in other words, you’re likely going back to school.

Earning a degree takes hard work, planning, time, and money. Thankfully the time and cost can be greatly reduced by using your military education benefits and your GI Bill.

Like a military mission, the first step to planning your education is to clearly define your objective. As a famous NY Yankees player and coach used to say, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

Step-by-Step: Getting A SMART Start On Your Education

I have personally helped hundreds of service members and veterans focus their goals by using the process known as “SMART” goal setting, which is an acronym for making your goals: Specific, Measurable. Action Oriented, Realistic and Time-Driven.

SPECIFIC: Your goals need to be clear, focused, concise, and well defined. Using general terms leads to mission creep (costing you extra time and money). Keep your goals as detailed as you can.

MEASURABLE: Your goal needs time frames, dates, dollar amounts, number of credits, etc. to ensure your success. Think of it as setting a course with no way to check your progress; even the slightest error can throw you way off your course (again, costing you time and money).

ACTION ORIENTED: Your goal must require action, not reaction. Actively working to achieve your goals ensures your success.

REALISTIC: Your goals must be practical, achievable, and credible. You have to believe your goals can reached or you could lose your motivation when the inevitable difficulties pop up.

TIME DRIVEN: Your goals must clearly define a starting point, layout a timeline, and include an ending point.

Your goals can also be broken down into smaller objectives.

  • SHORT-TERM (completed in the next six to 12 months)
  • MEDIUM-TERM (within one to five years)
  • LONG-TERM (within the next five to 10 years)

More Tips for Successful Goal Setting

  • Write your goals down in down in positive terms. Studies show that using negative terms can have a impact on your success.
  • Post your goals where you will see and read them on a regular basis.
  • Be flexible circumstances change, often outside of your control – be willing to adjust fire as needed.

SMART Goal Example

Here’s a SMART Goal setting example for getting your degree.

Starting next semester I will take 12 units a semester and use a combination of CLEP exams, ACE college credits, Military Tuition assistance, and the GI Bill to save time and money to complete my bachelor’s in science degree in 3 years.

Learn more about finding the right college or university and how to use your military and VA benefits to earn your degree.

LESSONS LEARNED SERIES:

RELATED:

 

Dealing with GI Bill Glitches as a Student Veteran

Lessons Learned: Dealing with GI Bill Process Issues

This article will focus on how to deal with the GI Bill® process issues you may face. But, before I start, I want to make it clear I am not VA bashing. The VA accomplishes great things with limited funding, short staffing, and often antiquated systems.

When I started earning my degree, I encountered several frustrating “glitches.”  The issues were all related to process, policy, regulations, and simply bad data (bureaucracy). Each time, I came close to giving up, thankfully I didn’t.  Despite the bureaucratic glitches, I used the GI Bill to earn a BS in communications and management and eventually an MBA.

Glitch #1: The GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility

The first glitch or roadblock I ran into came early in the college admissions process. To set the stage; I was on active duty and was working in the base education services office, where I had been coaching others on how to use their GI Bill, so I already knew I was eligible before I started looking for a school.

The first step to using your GI Bill is request a certificate of eligibility. It is a relatively simple process. In my case I had submitted the eligibility request as I was also applying for admission to the college – technically the registrar submitted the request for me.

It took approximately 30 days for the response (as expected), but the VA’s response caught me by surprise. Despite having submitted all the required documentation, I received a letter from the VA stating that my eligibility couldn’t be determined and that I needed to submit the proper documentation – which, as I pointed out, had already been done.

Since I had experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the past, I assumed that the letter was some sort of canned response.

 

RELATED: Importance of GI Bill Eligibility Certification

 

Turns out it was a glitch. I received my certification before I re-submitted the documents they asked for (about two weeks later). That made it about 45 days since we submitted the application. I was well into the first semester and I was a bit stressed about how the school’s business office and the registrar were taking the delay, since I was already taking classes.

Glitch #2: VA Approved Schools vs. VA Approved Degree Programs

The second challenge I encountered came a couple of months into the first semester. I was informed that despite the fact the school had several veterans enrolled and using the GI Bill, the degree program I had chosen was not “approved” for the GI Bill, so the VA would not pay for the classes I was taking.

RELATED: Verify Your Degree Program Is GI Bill Eligible

This is where I learned that the VA does not approve schools, they approve degree programs. I also learned that my program was brand new and had not been evaluated and authorized yet.

I need to spend a moment trying to explain without getting too far into the weeds. The process for approving a degree program starts with the State Authorizing Agency (SAA). Although the SAA is a state bureaucracy, the federal Dept. of Veterans Affairs relies on the SAA to evaluate the curriculum and ensure it meets the VA’s standards for use with the GI Bill.

This glitch was much more complicated.  It required the school registrar, a state official, and the VA to work together to solve. The process of coordinating private, state, and federal agencies to solve this issue for the sake of a single veteran (me) was not easy, but it went better than expected.

You can imagine how long it took to get that sorted out. Thankfully the school waived the tuition payments until the process was sorted out.  I was then able to continue taking classes. But that was not the last of the glitches I dealt with while earning my bachelor’s.

Glitch #3: Traditional Classes vs. Online Education Modules

This last glitch came up after I had completed my degree program. Simply put, the VA re-evaluated my account.  Then they determined that I had been under-charged for the classes I had taken.  As a result they took back a few months of my benefits.

As you may know, the GI Bill gives you 36 months of education benefits. Back in the day, the Montgomery GI Bill used a confusing process (call it fuzzy math) for determining how many months a student used when enrolled in non-traditional education courses – while on active duty.

Getting the accounting corrected required several phone calls, long waits on hold, and eventually learning how to file an appeal through the VA benefits claims process. The good news is that after months of frustration and endless paperwork, the VA  reinstated about six months of my benefits, which left me enough benefits to go after my MBA.

RELATED: Online Colleges for Military

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t let the inevitable bureaucratic glitches stop you. Had I given up at I would have never completed my degrees. The degrees I have earned open several doors for me.  They’ve enabled me to earn far more than I ever made as an enlisted service member.
  2. Learn the system and how to make it work for you. Because I understood the process; I didn’t accept the VA’s first rulings .  As a result, I was able to take advantage of the opportunities the GI Bill gave me. It really changed my life for the better.
  3. “Never give in, never, never, never–never”– or – “Stay Calm and Persevere” (you pick). Earning your degree is difficult, paying for it is nearly impossible without the GI Bill. Both take perseverance and tenacity – never give in.

Many of the glitches I faced were because the VA had not yet developed the process for online degree programs. Keep in mind that the VA had nearly 50 years of experience with tradition brick and mortar education.  When I started on my non-traditional path, the VA was still dealing with the online learning curve. The point is that at some point you will face your own glitches with the GI Bill process.  Don’t let it trip you up.

 

NEXT STEP: Importance of GI Bill Eligibility Certification

 

OTHER ARTICLES IN “LESSONS LEARNED” SERIES:

Personal stories from our Education Benefits author, Terry Howell.

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Healthcare After Active Military & TRICARE after Separation

If you are getting out of the military sometime soon, you need to understand what will happen with your healthcare, and what your options are. You won’t be able to keep TRICARE, at least in its current form, forever. Here are your healthcare options after the military.

Healthcare After The Military

There are different options based on if you are “separating” from the military, versus “retiring” from active duty military.

Healthcare After the Military If You Are Separating

If you are separating from active duty military, as opposed to retiring, you will not be able to keep TRICARE long term, but you might be eligible for either the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) and/or the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP.)

RELATED: Healthcare When Going From Active Duty to Guard or Reserve (@MyMilitaryBenefits)

Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)

If you are separating from the military and you are either:

  • Involuntarily separating from active duty under honorable conditions which include members who receive a voluntary separation incentive (VSI,) or members who receive voluntary separation pay (VSP) and aren’t entitled to retired or retainer pay upon separation, or
  • Separating from active duty following involuntary retention (stop-loss) in support of a contingency operation, or
  • Separating from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation, or

If you are receiving a sole survivorship discharge, then you should be able to receive TAMP. TAMP will allow you to have 180 days of premium-free transitional health care benefits after your regular TRICARE benefits end. During this period, you are eligible to use:

  • TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE Select
  • US Family Health Plan (enrollment required and must live in a designated location.)
  • TRICARE Prime Overseas (enrollment required)
  • TRICARE Select Overseas
  • Extended Health Care Option

RELATED: TRICARE Prime vs Select: How To Choose (@ MyMilitaryBenefits)

You can view your TAMP eligibility at MilConnect.  Or for more info, please visit here.

Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)

The CHCBP is a premium-based plan that will give you temporary health coverage for 18-36 months when you lose your eligibility for TRICARE. CHCBP will help you bridge the gap between military health benefits and your new civilian health benefits, will provide the same coverage as TRICARE select, to include prescriptions, and will give you the minimum essential coverage that you need to qualify for the Affordable Care Act. If you qualify for CHCBP, you can purchase it within 60 days of your loss of TRICARE eligibility.

For more info, please visit here.

Qualifying for CHCBP

In order to qualify for CHCBP, your separation will need to be under, “other than adverse conditions.” You can qualify if you were an active duty service member, and released from active duty, for up to 18 months. If you are a dependent or spouse, and lose your TRICARE coverage, or an unremarried former spouse, and lost your TRICARE coverage, you can use CHCBP for up to 36 months.

The CHCBP contractor is Humana Military. You can use CHCBP after the loss of TAMP coverage and then be covered up to 18 months.

Healthcare After the Military If You’re Retiring

If you are actually retiring from active duty military, as opposed to separating, you will have some TRICARE changes after you get out of the military. First of all, you will be disenrolled from TRICARE Prime, and you will then have 90 days to enroll in a new plan after your retirement. You will have to pay annual enrollment fees.

You can re-enroll online, over the phone, or through the mail. If you do fail to enroll in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select you will lose all TRICARE coverage and will only be able to receive care at military hospitals and clinics on a space available basis.

Your options for health plans are:

  • TRICARE Prime (in Prime Service Areas)
  • TRICARE Select
  • US Family Health Plan (in specific U.S. locations)
  • TRICARE For Life (with Medicare Part A & B coverage)
  • TRICARE Select Overseas

Your coverage will start the date of your retirement. You and your family might also be able to qualify for dental coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) if you enroll in a TRICARE health plan.

There are some services that are no longer covered when you are retired. They are, hearing aids, TRICARE Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) services for family members, chiropractic care, and eye exams for all of the plans except for TRICARE Prime.

As a retiree, you may see an increase in costs, which will depend on your TRICARE plan. New costs may include:

  • Annual enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select Group B
  • Copays for TRICARE Prime
  • Higher copays and cost shares for TRICARE Select
  • Catastrophic cap increases from $1,000 per family to:
    • Group A: $3,000 annually per family
    • Group B: $3,500 annually per family.
    • Keep in mind, in the calendar year you retire, any amounts accrued on active duty will apply to your retired family cap.
  • Higher prescription costs

For more info, you can visit here.

SHPE

SHPE stands for “Separation History and Physical Examination.” Any service member who is getting out of the military, whether they are separating, retiring, or deactivating will need to have one.  This will need to occur between 90-180 days before you separate or start terminal leave.

You will only need one of these exams, you can do so at a military hospital, clinic, or a VA facility, and the DOD and VA share results with one another.

This separation health assessment documents and assesses your medical history, medical concerns identified during your military career, and current health status.

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Tennessee Offers Free Community College to All Adults

Free Community College for All Adults in Tennessee

The Tennessee Promise Scholarship was established in 2014. It was created to help Tennessee’s high school seniors get a college degree by covering two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in the state of Tennessee. The legislation to expand this specific program to all Tennessee adults in need of an associate’s or technical degree was just approved. This makes Tennessee community college free for all adults.

This bill to expand the existing program has not yet been signed into law, but it is expected that Governor Bill Haslam will do so soon. (Governor Haslam signed the original Tennessee Promise Scholarship into law back in the summer of 2014.)

“If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high-quality education,” Haslam said in a statement.

Students may use the Tennessee Promise Scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate degree program.

Start Exploring Tennessee Colleges

Scholarship + Mentoring

The scholarship program is two-fold. While removing the financial burden is key, a critical component of the Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant will receive from a mentor who will assist the student as he or she navigates the college admission process.

This is accomplished primarily via mandatory mentoring meetings that students must attend in order to remain eligible for the program. In addition, Tennessee Promise participants must complete and submit eight hours of community service per term enrolled, as well as maintain satisfactory academic progress (2.0 GPA) at their respective institution.

 

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How to Maximize Your TSP Retirement Fund

Maximizing Your Thrift Savings Plan Retirement Fund

All government employees are uniquely positioned to set themselves up for a great retirement. How? Through the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP offers the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations provide their employees under their 401-K plans. (Learn the full ins and outs of the TSP here.) Not sure how to best utilize your TSP? Here are some tips…

Why Is The TSP So Great?

The government doesn’t have a 401-K plan or normal retirement funds like an IRA or Roth IRA. (In 2020, the limit for contribution to your Roth IRA is $6,000.) However, the limit for contributions for the TSP in 2020 is $19,500.

Basically, the more you contribute to your TSP, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to tap into your retirement savings. If your retirement fund has a higher limit for contributions, you’ll be able to save more.

How to Make The Most Of Your TSP

‘Maxing out’ or contributing the full limit to your TSP ($19,500) year after year is the best way to make the most of your TSP retirement fund. Nothing seems to be guaranteed anymore and that is why we suggest taking matters into your own hands and preparing for retirement yourself by getting as close to maxing out your TSP yearly.

“I Can’t Afford To Put $19,500 Away”

Not everyone is going to be able to save $19,500 every year because of life situations, income level, etc. However, by starting to put away as much money per year into your TSP as early as you can is going to significantly help you when you are looking to retire.

Life situations change. This year might not be the year for you to start investing heavily because of car payments, but maybe next year you are getting a raise or a promotion. Put some or most (if you can) of that raise into your TSP instead of increasing spending.

How to Contribute Effectively

Set up automatic payments that transfer money from your bank account to your brokerage account regularly, such as every two weeks or once a month. This way, smaller increments of money are being put away as opposed to one large chunk of money all at once. This way you can also become accustomed to & comfortable with regularly saving smaller amounts, if you aren’t already.

Setting up these periodic contributions has another benefit, too. You’re adopting the practice of “dollar-cost averaging.” That’s when you buy investments in small periodic payments, rather than in one big lump sum. Doing this means you buy no matter what is going on in the market and over time (we’re talking long-term here) the differences in prices eventually average out.

The opposite of “dollar-cost averaging” is “market timing.” Market timing is when people try to figure out when prices are low, thus indicating the best time to buy. The problem is that no one will actually know when the best time is, so it’s best to dollar-cost average and set your sights on long-term retirement savings.

What Will $19,500 Saved Be Worth At Retirement Age?

The average return on investment over the long term for someone investing for retirement is 7%. (That means that some years will be better than 7% and some will be worse, but by the time you retire you are likely to have had an average of 7% return on investment each year.)

Let’s say you invest $19,500 in your TSP for 2020 and don’t touch it or add to it for 35 years. That $19,500 is projected to be worth $208,193.34 based on a 7% yearly return. That’s a lot of money. But if you can’t ‘max out’ or invest to the $19,500 cap that doesn’t mean that you can’t still reap major investment payouts. A single investment of $10,000 in 2020 that sits for 35 years is projected to be worth $106,765.81.

Investing in your future (literally) is extremely important to have a comfortable retirement. Why not take advantage of the ability to put more away for your future when given the opportunity?

What If I Wait 20 Years To Start Investing In Retirement?

Every year that you don’t put money in your TSP (even if it isn’t a lot), you’re missing out on money that your money makes for you by just being invested.

For example, if you invest that same $19,500 that we spoke about earlier and invest in into your TSP 20 years from now (we’re pretending that from 2020 you can retire in 35 years) it will only have 15 years to sit in the stock market. After 15 years, that one-time investment of $19,500 will be worth $53,801.12.

Compare that $53,801.12 to the previously mentioned $208,193.34 that your one time investment could be worth if you invest $19,500 into your TSP this year.

How Much Are You Putting Away For 2020?

Now is a great time to check your retirement investment totals as well as your disposable income. Could you increase your investments slightly to get you closer to ‘maxing out’ your yearly contribution? Tip: You have until the tax filing deadline, April 15, 2020, to contribute to your TSP for 2019 (whose limit is $19,000.) You have until the tax filing deadline, April 15, 2021, to contribute to your TSP for 2020.

 

 

Military Benefits Update 2019

** Looking for Military Benefits Changes for 2020.  Visit MyMilitaryBenefits for the latest here.**

With 2019 just around the corner, there will be some changes to some of the military benefits available to those who are or who have served in the military.

Military Benefits Changes for 2019

Here is what you can expect:

The TAP Program

The TAP (Transition Assistance Program) program has been changed so that it will begin a year before separation vs within 90 days of separation.

BAS

BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) has a proposed increase of 3.4% for 2019. The National Defense Authorization Act proposes 3.4% every year, but usually ends up with a lot less. For example, in 2018 the rate was only .3% and in 2017 there was no increase.

BAS is used to pay for food for enlisted and officers. It is also intended to help aid in food-related expenses not to cover them all together. The rate increase will take effect on January 1st, 2019.

BAH

BAH rates (Basic Allowance for Housing) has a proposed 2.9% increase for 2019 according to the Department of Defense FY2019 Defense Budget.

In 2018, there was a 0.7% increase, and in 2017, the increase was 2.4%.

BAH amounts are based on:

  • Rank
  • Dependent status – if service member has dependents or not
  • Geographic location – where the service member lives

The rate is now intended to cover 95% of housing costs, leaving 5% for service members to pay out-of-pocket. In the past, 99% was assumed to help pay for housing.

Not every location will receive an increase. If a service member’s rate for their area goes down, the service member is typically grandfathered in until they move to a new location or change rank.

Will BAH go up in 2019?

The new BAH rate will go into effect on January 1st, 2019 and service members will see the increase in their January 15th, 2019 paycheck.

2019 BAH Rates have been updated and can be found here.

Basic Pay

There will be a 2.6% pay raise for basic pay in 2019.

This will go into effect on January 1st, 2019 and service members will see the change in their January 15th, 2019 paycheck.

For example, an 0-5 with 12 years will have made $7,691 a month in 2018, and will then make $7,891 a month in 2019. An E-5 with 12 years made $3,310 in 2018, and would make $3,396 in 2019.

RELATED PAY INFO:

Space-A Travel

Space-A travel is a way to travel using military flights on a space available basis.

Total disabled veterans will be able to use Space-A Travel. Before this change, only military retirees and current service members could use Space-A for traveling.

SGLI

SGLI will now be automatically increased to $400,000 if a service member is deployed to a combat zone.

SGLI is a VA program that provides low cost group life insurance to all military members.

COLA

The COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) is set for a 2.8% increase in 2019.

This is the largest increase since 2011, when it was 3.6%. Last year’s increase was 2%.

COLA increases are based on the inflation measurement period of the 3rd quarter compared to the previous 3rd quarter and tied to CPI (Consumer Price Index.)  COLA adjustments are used for different types of benefits that veterans or their families might qualify for.

The following benefits will have updated rates starting December 1st, 2018, and will be reflected on the first paycheck on December 31st, 2018. The exact rates will be released by early December and should be an 2.8% increase over 2018 rates.

VA Disability Rates

Proposed increase of 2.8% in 2019. (Waiting on official updated rates)

The VA Disability Rates are based on a veteran’s disability rating. A veteran with a spouse with a 30% rating would receive $466.15 a month in 2018, as of December 1, 2018, with the proposed increase of 2.8%, they would receive $479.20 a month.

Veteran Pension Rates

These rates are for low-income wartime veterans who have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period. These payments are tax-free and based on the veterans status. You can find the updated rate table here.

Survivor Pension Rates

This benefit is a tax-free monetary benefit that is payable to low-income, un-remarried surviving spouses and/or unmarried children of a deceased veteran with wartime service. Using the rate table, the Maximum Annual Pension rate for a veteran with one dependent child is $11,557 for 2018, as of December 1, 2018, the rate is $11,881. You can find the updated rate table here.

The Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

This rate is based on the situation with the parent. This is a tax-free payment for biological, adoptive, and foster parents of a military service member who died in the line of duty or parents of a veteran who died from a service-related injury or disease. For example, for a sole surviving parent un-remarried or remarried living with spouse, with an income not over $800, their monthly rate would be $652 for 2018, and $652 as of December 1, 2018. You can find the updated rate table here.

TRICARE Dental

TRICARE Dental for retirees will be going away in January of 2019 and will be replaced with FEDVIP. This is the same dental insurance used by civil service members and government retirees. Active duty members will have the option of purchasing dental insurance through FEDVIP instead of TRICARE in 2022.

GI Bill

The GI Bill rates are based on academic years, the academic year, 2018-2019 is from August 1, 2018 to July 31st, 2019. A big change with the GI Bill happening in 2019, will be that the rules will change for those who want to transfer their GI Bill.

The ability to be able to transfer your Post 911 GI Bill benefits will be limited to service members that have less than 16 years of total active-duty or selected reserve service. This will go into effect on July 12, 2019.

As new information come out about 2019 benefits, this site will be updated.

RELATED:

 

PAY AND BENEFITS UPDATES FOR 2019:

Military Benefits Updates for 2019

BAH Rates 2019

Military to Receive Pay Raise in 2019

Military Pay Dates 2019

USAA Pay Dates 2019

Navy Federal Pay Dates

National Guard Pay and Reserve Pay

 

 

VA Disability Benefits, Payments, and Pay Rates Chart

One part of being a service member is receiving the right benefits and compensation based on your experiences in the military, any disability you have, and any injuries you sustained. It is important for veterans to know what the VA disability benefits and compensation is all about.

What is Veterans Disability Compensation?

The disability compensation you might receive is a tax-free monetary benefit that is paid to veterans that have disabilities. They must be disabilities that were a result of diseases or an injury or those that were aggravated during active military service. A disability can be a physical one or a mental health condition.

You also might receive compensation for post-service disabilities that are considered to be related to or secondary to disabilities that occurred during military service as well as disabilities that are presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even if they come out after military service.

The different degrees of a disability are designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from the exacerbations or illnesses.

How Much Is VA Disability Pay Compensation?

Your benefit amount depends on the degree of your disability on a scale from 10% to 100%. This goes up in increments of 10%. You can check the current Veterans Compensation Benefits Rates on this website.

 

>> Have a question about your or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!

 

VA Disability Rating Chart

Combined VA Disability Rating 2022 VA Disability Rates
10% $152.64
20% $301.74
30% $467.39
40% $673.28
50% $958.44
60% $1,214.03
70% $1,529.95
80% $1,778.43
90% $1,998.52
100% $3,332.06

 

As an example, a veteran alone with no children at 30% would receive $467.39 a month, while if they were at 60% they would receive $1,214.03.

For those with VA Disability ratings > 30%, you can also receive additional compensation for dependents (both child and adult).

 

>> UPDATE:

Cost-of-Living Increase For Veterans Benefits

A cost-of-living increase of 5.9% for Veterans Benefits is set for 2022. This took effect on December 1, 2021.

The benefits to which a COLA adjustment would apply are:

    • Wartime disability compensation
    • Dependent compensation
    • Clothing allowances
    • Compensation for surviving spouses and children

The COLA adjustment usually moves in tandem with the COLA adjustment applied to social security benefits; except that the adjustments for veterans benefits must currently be passed annually, while the SSA benefits are automatic.

According to data on the SSA website, the 2021 increase (implemented 1 December 2020) was 1.3%, 2020 was 1.6%, and 2019 saw a 2.8% increase. For perspective, there was only a 0.3% increase in 2017, while 2012 saw a whopping 3.6% adjustment.

RELATED: New Bill to Benefit Disabled Veterans

What If I Have Dependents?

There may be an additional allowance added if your combined disability is rated 30% or more.

The same veteran alone, with a child and spouse, at 30% would then receive $563.39 a month, with $1,407 a month if they were at 60%.

The VA will compensate you with a modest amount for every dependent you have registered with them. These criteria must be met:

  • You are eligible for VA disability compensation, and
  • You have a combined disability rating of at least 30%

Normally, your dependents will be listed on your claim when you first file, but sometimes mistakes happen when they process your information. Or, if you’re like me, you had three kids when you retired but now have six. Whenever this happens, head over to the eBenefits site and file your new claim. 

There are different categories of dependents under the VA system. You can add a dependent if:

  • You get married
  • You have or adopt a child
  • Your child is between 18 and 23 and is enrolled in school full time
  • Your child, of at least 18 years old, became permanently disabled before turning 18
  • You become the caregiver for a parent whose income and net worth is below a certain amount

If any of these describe your situation, use the link above to file a claim

You can also receive additional pay if you have a very severe disability or loss of a limb, have a spouse, or dependent parents, or a seriously disabled spouse. These amounts are also listed on the Veterans Compensation Benefits Rates page.

What If I Receive Other Types of Pay?

If you receive military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive pay, your compensation might be offset.

What If I Have a 100% Disability Rating?

In this case, if you are a veteran alone you would receive $3,332.06 a month, with $3,456.30 for a veteran alone with one child.

What If I Am the Spouse of a Service Member Who Died While on Active Duty?

If you are a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training or if you are a survivor of a veteran who died from their service-connected disability, you can receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

A surviving spouse must qualify under one of these:

  • Married to a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
  • Validly married the veteran before January 1, 1957.
  • Married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the death began or was aggravated.
  • Was married to the veteran for at least one year.
  • Had a child with the veteran.

In addition to that you will need to have cohabited with the veteran continuously until the veteran’s death or if separated, not at fault for the separation and not currently remarried. If a surviving spouse remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after the age of 57, they are entitled to continue to receive DIC.

A surviving child will need to be:

Not included on the surviving spouse’s DIC, unmarried, and under the age of 18 or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school. A child that is adopted out of the veteran’s family may be eligible for DIC if all other eligibility criteria is met.

There will need to be evidence provided in order to receive this DIC benefit.

What is the Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)?

SMC is an additional tax-free benefit that is paid to veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses, and parents. This is a higher rate of compensation that is paid due to special circumstances. SMC-L through SMC-O have lists of specific conditions and combinations of conditions. SMC-K is for those that have experienced the loss or loss of use of an extremity or organ. SMC-S is for veterans that can’t leave the house. SMC-R is for those that need daily aid and attendance from another person.

All of the SMCs except for SMC-K are instead of the standard disability amounts. SMC-K is in addition to them. All disabilities will need to be service-related.

You can see the SMC amounts on the Special Monthly Compensation Pay Chart.

What Other Benefits Can You Receive as a Disabled Veteran?

Other benefits that are given to disabled veterans are Adapted Housing Grants, Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance, and Veterans’ Mortgage Life. There might also be state-specific benefits depending on where you live.

How Do The Disability Payment Amounts Go Up?

The VA will make cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to VA compensation and pension benefits so that those benefits do not get eroded by inflation. These rates will be the same percentage as they are for social security benefits.

What if I Have More Than One Disability? Is There Such a Thing as Combined Ratings?

If you as a veteran have multiple disabilities, the VA will use a combined rating table to calculate your combined disability rating. The ratings do not just get added together.

For example, if you have a 20% rated disability, and a 40% one, you would not then have a 60% rating. You can see the ratings on the Combined Ratings Table.

How To Apply for Disability Compensation?

If you want to apply for disability compensation, the best way to do so is by obtaining an eBenefits account and applying online. You will need to have your discharge or separation papers, medical evidence, and dependency records.

If you don’t want to apply online, you can also print and mail in the VA Form 21-526EZ, which is the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits. You can also apply for benefits before your discharge through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) or Quick Start pre-discharge programs.

For DIC you would use the VA Form 21P-534EZ and for SMC, the VA will automatically award the special monthly compensation if your disability qualifies. If you do need to apply for SMC, you can do so with the VA Form 21-2680.

What is a Fully Developed Claim?

If you file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) veterans, service members, and survivors have the option to participate more fully in the claims process. If you can provide all of the required evidence at the same time, you can submit a claim and certify that you have no more evidence, then the VA can issue a decision faster.

If you have an injury, disability, or condition that you believe occurred or was aggravated by your service, or a condition caused or aggravated by an existing service-related condition, you can file an FDC claim electronically.

You would need to go to eBenefits.va.gov to start the process.

Remember that in order to qualify for VA Disability Benefits and Compensation you will need to have served in the Uniformed Services on:

  • Active duty
  • Active duty for training
  • Inactive duty training

and have been

  • Discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
  • As well as being at least 10% disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated during active duty or active duty for training, or inactive duty training.

You will need to provide evidence of your current physical or mental condition.  In addition, you will need to provide evidence of a relationship between your disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service.

 

>> Have a question about your or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!

 

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UCX: Unemployment Insurance & Benefits after the Military

Unemployment Benefits & for Military After Your Service

With the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers Program (UCX) you can qualify for unemployment benefits once your time in the military is over. The program itself is administered by each state, as agents of the federal government.

How Do I Qualify for Unemployment Compensation as a Veteran?

  • To qualify you will have needed to have served on active duty within a branch of the military or on reserve status for at least 90 days.
  • You need to have been honorably discharged. Basically, if you were discharged with a condition of “other than honorable,” received a “bad conduct” discharge, or dishonorable discharge, which includes a general court-martial, you will not qualify for UCX benefits.

 

>> Find opportunities with job recruiters and staffing companies looking to assist veterans and military spouses.  Get started today!

 

How Does UCX Work?

  • You do not make a payroll deduction from your wages for unemployment insurance protection when you serve in the military like you would normally do in order to collect unemployment insurance benefits.
  • The benefits are paid for by the various branches of the military.
  • The laws of the state where you filed for unemployment determine your benefit amount, number of weeks you will receive the benefit, and other eligibility conditions. Visit this website to check out the specific state you need to know more about…https://www.careeronestop.org/localhelp/unemploymentbenefits/unemployment-benefits.aspx
  • Generally speaking, you do need to be seeking work while you are filing for unemployment. You also might not be able to do so if you are working towards self-employment or running your business. This does depend on the laws of the state.

Unemployment Payments

  • The unemployment insurance payments you receive are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers who meet the requirements of state law in which they file.
  • Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program with guidelines established by Federal law.

Filing Your Claim

  • You should be contacting your state workforce agency as soon as possible after your discharge from the military.
  • You need to make sure you give them complete information such as addresses and dates so that there are no hiccups along the way.
  • You should file in the state you are currently living in, not where you were stationed last. This is a little different from civilians filing for unemployment insurance as they will need to file in the state they last worked in or if they move to a new state, they will need to go by the unemployment laws of the state they last worked in.
  • 26 weeks is the maximum amount of unemployment insurance you can collect.
  • You will need to file weekly or biweekly and answer questions about your eligibility. This isn’t something you do once, forget about, and then receive money for the next 26 weeks. You will need to be reporting any earnings from work you have been able to do during the week. You also need to report any job offers or refusals.

Job Help

  • You may be directed to the state employment service so they can help you find employment. Even if you are not required to do so, working with them can help you in your job search.
  • They have current labor market information and provide a wide array of re-employment services free of charge.
  • They can refer you to job openings in your area or other places if you are willing to relocate.
  • They can also refer you to various training programs that offer testing and counseling to help you determine other jobs that you might be interested in pursuing.
  • They can refer you to other agencies that can help if you do have special needs when it comes to employment.

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What About Taxes?

Unemployment compensation is taxable income. This is true federally and for most states but make sure to check with your state to find out for sure. This income will be reported on a 1099-G form.

However, if unemployment income was your household’s only income for the year, you might not make enough to have to pay taxes on the amount. This is something you will need to check with a tax professional or an accountant.

If you are getting close to your ETS date, it is time to think about if you will be applying for unemployment insurance. Unlike civilian work, you are entitled to apply even though you were not “fired” from the military. Make sure you qualify and figure out where you need to file so that you can get everything ready ahead of time.

 

>> Find opportunities with job recruiters and staffing companies looking to assist veterans and military spouses.  Get started today!

 

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Hazlewood Act – What is it, Qualifying, & Applying for Texas Veterans

The state of Texas has their own way to help those who have served in the military pay for college, it’s called the Hazlewood Act. This act was named for the Texas senator, Grady Hazlewood. He led the passage of many amendments to the act in 1944 to help veterans. It dates back to 1929 to help nurses and veterans without other benefits and has evolved from there.

Texas’ Hazlewood Act

Here is some information about the Hazlewood Act and how it can help veterans and possibly their families pay for college.

What is the Hazlewood Act?

If you qualify for the Hazlewood Act, you will be exempt from paying your tuition and most fees, up to 150 semester credit hours.

You will need to be enrolled in classes at a public institution of higher education in the state of Texas.

You also can not use this for property deposits, student service fees, books, supplies, and living expenses.

  • The Hazlewood Act is not based on financial need.
  • You can use the Hazlewood Act for undergraduate and graduate school, including law school. You can also use it for distance learning if the classes you are taking receive formula funding and you are taking these classes through a Public Texas institution.
  • As far as continuing education classes without formula funding go, institutions are not required to offer Hazlewood Act benefits to veterans enrolled in them. However, the college or university may choose to permit this option.

Who Qualifies for the Hazlewood Act?

Veterans

  • In order to qualify, at the time you started your active duty military service, you must have designated Texas as your home of record, entered the service in Texas, or had been a Texas resident.
  • You also need to have had an honorable discharge or separation or a general discharge under honorable conditions as indicated on the your certificate of release or discharge from active duty.
  • You need to have served at least 181 days of active duty service, not including training.
  • You can use your Federal VA Education benefits as long as they are not the Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) or Vocational Rehabilitation Education program benefits (chapter 31) as well as any other benefits designed only for payment of tuition and fees. However, if you are receiving Federal VA Education benefits for payment of tuition and fees, you may receive both benefits if the Federal VA Education benefit amount does not equal or exceed the Hazlewood exemption value. If this is the case, you may receive a Hazlewood exemption that equals the difference between the total tuition and fees and the federal benefits.
  • Basically, you would not be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill with the Hazlewood Act unless you do not qualify for the full amount of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
  • You will need to currently reside in Texas.
  • You can not be in default on a student loan made or guaranteed by the state of Texas.
  • You will need to be enrolled in classes for which the college or university receives tax support unless the college’s governing board has ruled to allow veterans to receive the benefit while taking non-funded courses.
  • You also will need to meet the GPA requirements of the institution’s satisfactory academic progress policy. This will have to be in a degree or certificate program, as determined by the institution’s financial aid policy. Also, as an undergraduate student, you can not be considered to have attempted an excessive amount of credit hours.

Children of Veterans under the Legacy Act

Veterans who are eligible for the Hazlewood Act may assign or transfer unused hours of exemption eligibility to a child under certain circumstances.

  • The child must be classified by the institution as a resident of Texas.
  • They must be the biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or claimed as a dependent in the current or previous year.
  • They must be 25 years old or younger on the 1st day of the semester or term for when the exemption is claimed. There are some cases when they can receive an extension due to a qualifying illness or debilitating condition.
  • They must also meet the GPA requirements of the institutions/ satisfactory academic progress as listed above in the veteran’s section.

Spouses and Dependent children

  • Spouses and dependent children of active duty, reserve, and Texas National Guard who died in the line of duty, or as a result of an injury or illness directly related to military service, or who are missing in action, or became disabled for purposes of employability as a result of a service-related injury or illness are able to receive an 150 credit hour exemption with the Hazlewood Act as well.
  • A spouse must be the spouse of a veteran, who at the time of entry into the military, was classified by the institution as a Texas resident, had a designated Texas Home of Record, or entered the service in Texas. The same goes for a dependent child.
  • The same rules about Federal Veterans Education benefits that apply to veterans also apply to the spouse and dependent child.
  • Spouses and dependent children also need to be classified by the institution as a Texas resident.
  • The GPA requirements listed for the veteran also apply for the spouse and dependent child except in the case that the spouse or child is a spouse or child of a service member who is missing in action, killed in action, or is a service-connected deceased veteran.

Miscellaneous Hazlewood Act Information

  • The institution that the veteran, spouse or child attends exempts the cost of tuition and fees. No money will change hands.
  • The governing board of each institution shall report to the Texas Veterans Commission. They will give them any information relating to each individual receiving an exemption from tuition and fees through the Hazlewood Act.
  • Remember that there are strict rules for what makes you eligible as far as being a Texas resident goes. It simply isn’t enough that you lived in Texas once, that you have done so in the past, or that you want to do so in the future.

How Do You Apply for the Hazlewood Act?

You would need to register with the Hazlewood Act online database to get started.

As you can see, the Hazlewood Act can save you money on your schooling and allow you to fulfill your dreams. If you qualify, you should make sure to check out this fantastic benefit for you and possibly your children.

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VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & VA VOC Rehab – What to Know

What Is the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) Services Program?

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E – or sometimes commonly referred to as “voc rehab”), was authorized by Congress under Title 38, United States, Chapter 31.

This program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities and employment handicaps. It is also there to help service members who are in the process of transitioning from military to civilian employment prepare for, as well as helping them find and keep suitable jobs.

Through this program, they also provide services to help those with service-connected disabilities so severe that they can’t immediately consider working. These services help them improve their ability to live as independently as they can.

How Do You Qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation Services?

There is a 12-year basic period of eligibility when the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program services can be used.

The 12 years starts on the latter of either the date of separation from active military duty or the date the veteran was first notified of a service-connected disability rating.

Active Duty Qualify for Voc Rehab if they:

  • Expect to receive an honorable discharge or other than dishonorable discharge upon separation from active duty.
  • Obtain a VA memorandum rating of 20% or higher.
  • Are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) or are certified by the military as having a severe injury or illness that may prevent them from performing their military duties. Those service members that are participating in IDEA are presumed entitled. However, this provision does expire in September of 2018.
  • Are determined by the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program to be in need of rehabilitation services because of an employment handicap.

Veterans Qualify for Voc Rehab if they:

  • Have received or will receive an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge from the military.
  • Have a VA service-connected disability rating of 10% with a serious employment handicap or 20% or more with an employment handicap.
  • Are determined by the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program to be in need of rehabilitation services because of an employment handicap.

A vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) will work with you to determine if you meet the entitlement criteria.

What Happens During The VRC’s Comprehensive Evaluation?

There will be:

  • A full assessment of the service member’s interest, aptitudes, and abilities.
  • An assessment of whether service-connected disabilities impair their ability to find and/or hold a job using the occupational skills already attained.
  • Vocational exploration activities and goal development leading to suitable employment and/or maximum independence at home and in the community.
  • An exploration of the labor market as well as wage information.

They will also:

  • Help the service member select a VR&E program track.
  • Develop an individualized rehabilitation plan to achieve the identified employment and/or independent living goal.

What Goes Into the Voc Rehab and Employment Program’s Rehabilitation Plan?

The rehabilitation plan will be an individualized as well as detailed outline of the services that are provided under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program.

The plan is set up to meet the needs of the veteran or service member and is a signed agreement between the veteran and service member and the VA. It is designed to help the veteran or service member achieve their goals.

There are 5 tracks that can be used in a veteran’s or service member’s individualized plan. The VRC will help them determine what would be the best way to serve them.

Reemployment

This track will help them return to work with a previous employer. They would also help to support the employer’s efforts to provide accommodations that will enable the veteran or service member to continue along the same or similar career path.

Rapid access to employment

This would be to help find, apply, and to secure jobs for the service member or veteran. The VA may provide professional job placement assistance, job accommodations, and other specialized support.

Self-Employment

They can help the service member or veteran start a business, analyze their business plan, and provide training on how to market and operate a small business.

Employment through long-term services

This would be for those who require additional skills or training. They can assist with education benefits, on-the-job training, work-study, apprenticeships, or other job prep programs.

Independent living

This will help with access to community-based support services, the use of assistive technologies and accommodations, and independent living skills training.

What Other Benefits Does the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program Provide?

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program will also provide:

  • Ongoing counseling services
  • Assistance and coordination of services
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Job-seeking skills training
  • Medical and dental referrals with the Veterans Health Administration
  • Adjustment counseling
  • Payment of training allowance
  • Financial assistance for post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
  • On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
  • Other services that would be required to help the veteran or service member achieve a career and live as independently as possible.

What if You Qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

If you use the VR&E program and also qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can elect to receive the GI Bill rate instead of the Chapter 31 subsistence allowance. In most cases, the GI Bill rate is going to be higher.

Is There a Subsistence Allowance with Voc Rehab?

Yes, some service members and veterans who use this program will be able to receive a subsistence allowance while they pursue an educational or training program for a future career.

This is paid every month and is based on the rate of attendance in a training program, number of dependents, and type of training. If they do qualify for the Post 9/11-GI Bill, then they could be eligible for BAH.

For an example of the subsistence rate, someone with two dependents who is going to school full time would receive $942.44 based on October 2019 rates. They would receive $472.08 for going to school half time.

Training Time Full-time
Dependents
Zero $644.74
One $799.74
Two $942.44
Each Add’l $68.68

There are certain training programs that do require you to go full time if you want to receive the subsistence rate. You can view the different situations and amounts on the VR&E Training Programs Subsistence Allowance Rate sheet.

How do you apply for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program?

You can apply online or by filling out the Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation and mail that to the VA regional office in your area.

Whether your disability is physical or not, you may need the extra help that the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program can provide. The counselors can help you pursue your future educational and career goals. They can help you with a plan for school or to find a job. Make sure to take a look to see if you qualify and what the program can do for you.

 

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