Recent Changes to the GI Bill

The Post 9/11 GI Bill will soon experience a major upgrade. August 1, 2011, in an effort to make the program more efficient, uniform and simple to navigate, GI Bill 2.0 is being implemented.

The improvements to the GI Bill are intended to assist veterans and current military members in their academic pursuits. But without fully understanding the changes to the program, military members may find themselves in a difficult position.

Understanding Changes to the GI Bill

Effective August 1, 2011, the first wave of benefit changes will take effect for Post 9/11 GI Bill users.

The first wave of benefit changes will include:

  • Full in-state tuition for eligible veteran and active duty students attending public institutions
  • A 17,500 tuition cap for veteran and active duty students attending a private or foreign school
  • Fees reimbursement for national college admittance exams (e.g., ACT, SAT, GMAT, LSAT)
  • Reimbursement for more than one license or certification test

The second wave, taking effect October 1, 2011, will include:

  • A monthly living stipend for online students, equal to half the basic allowance for housing rates(BAH)
  • A monthly book allowance for active duty military members and their spouses
  • The addition of vocational programs to the list of benefit eligible courses

Keep This in Mind

While most of the changes to the GI Bill are beneficial for military members, there are less favorable reforms, too.

According to Army Times, the VA the will no longer pay educational benefits between terms. This means that about 260,000 people will lose $865 each annually, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.

Previously, the Post 9/11 GI Bill could be used to pay out of state tuition fees at a public university. But now GI Bill 2.0 will only cover in-state tuition fees.

Marco Reineger, a GI Bill expert for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) believes if some students cannot find additional funding they may be forced to dropout.

“They need to look now for third-party funding, scholarships or grants, so they don’t get into financial distress.”

Photo courtesy usag.yongsan