New Education Benefits Available for Veterans
Many GI Bill changes kick in this month
En español | Beginning this month, many veterans and their families can take advantage of a variety of expanded educational benefits under the Forever GI Bill, signed into law last year.
The bill was signed by President Trump in August 2017 and has been implemented in stages. The biggest change took effect last year: It eliminated the 15-year time limit for using education benefits for service members discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013.
Among the other changes:
Service members and honorably discharged veterans who were awarded a Purple Heart on or after Sept. 11, 2001, will now be eligible for full GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months, regardless of how long they served. Previously, some Purple Heart recipients were ineligible for full benefits because they had not served 36 months of active duty or because they had been discharged due to a disability.
It is easier now for certain Reserve and National Guard members to qualify for GI Bill benefits because the definition of “active duty” has been expanded to include some time periods when service members are being evaluated or receiving medical care. The new definition also applies to people who served on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
More GI Bill students may now participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional financial help for tuition and fees beyond what the GI Bill previously covered.
Among the other changes taking effect this month:
- GI Bill students can now receive a monthly housing allowance effective the day after discharge rather than at the beginning of the next full month after release from active duty
- The housing allowance will now be based on where GI Bill students attend most of their classes instead of the location of the school’s main campus, which could be quite different.
- Those who are eligible for education benefits under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program will have 36 months of educational benefits. In October, the monthly education allowance will increase by about 20 percent. Previously, the benefit could be used for 45 months. Anyone who started taking classes before July 31, 2018, will receive benefits for the full 45 months.
- Veterans and their families have two new ways to transfer GI Bill education benefits when someone dies. Veterans who transferred their benefit to a dependent can now name a new dependent if the first dependent dies before using it. Also, if the veteran who transferred the educational benefit dies, the dependent who received it can transfer the benefit to another eligible family member. This law applies to veterans and dependents who died on or after Aug. 1, 2009.
For more information, including how to apply for benefits, call 888-442-4551 toll-free, Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT, or go to benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/ForeverGIBill.asp.