Forever GI Bill
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Forever GI Bill

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-48), commonly known as the "Forever GI Bill", eliminated the 15-year use-it-or-lose-it constraint associated with the Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefit. The updated bill was created with the intent of improving previous versions of the bill and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) which is now defunct. The bill, called the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017, flew through both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the span of three weeks, passing both by unanimous votes. After the Senate's vote on Wednesday, the bill is headed to President Trump's desk, where it's expected he'll sign. Source: http://money.com/money/4885539/forever-gi-bill-approved-changes/

The official name of the bill is for Harry W. Colmery who is credited with being the author of the original GI Bill (Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944).[1]

Overview

The Forever GI Bill includes 34 provisions, however there are 15 that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of servicemen, veterans, their dependents, and their beneficiaries. Some of the changes were positive, however some changes reduced coverage and/or eligibility. The  most impactful 15 include:

  1. Elimination of the 15-year limitation on the use of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
  2. Restoration of lost GI Bill entitlement due to school closures.
  3. Expansion of benefits to Purple Heart recipients.
  4. Added Yellow Ribbon Program coverage to Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients.
  5. Expanded Yellow Ribbon Program coverage for Active Duty members.
  6. Changed the entitlement use for licensing and certification tests.
  7. Reduced the amount authorized for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
  8. Changed how the Basic Allowance for Housing is calculated.
  9. Changed Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility tiering for National Guard and Reservists.
  10. Increased GI Bill eligibility for National Guard and Reservists.
  11. Changed the transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
  12. Reduced the number of months of coverage under the Survivors' and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
  13. Increased DEA payment structure.
  14. Creation of a STEM scholarship program.
  15. Creation of a High Technology pilot program

There are several lesser known changes that include:

  • Permanent Work Study Program Approval
  • Mandatory Training for School Certifying Officials
  • VetSuccess Program Expansion
  • GI Bill Usage Data
  • VA Automation
  • Priority Enrollment Expansion

Summary of Changes[2]

Change Summary of Change
Assistance for students affected by school closures and program disapprovals If the school closed while the student was attending, the student may seek back entitlements.
Elimination of 15-year time limit to use post-9/11 GI Bill For service members discharged after January 1, 2013, the 15-year time limit to use benefits was removed.  This also applies to children of deceased service members and spouses using Fry Scholarships.
Independent study at technical schools and non-institutions of higher learning Beneficiaries can now use educational assistance at non institutions of higher education, which are accredited in career and technical education at the postsecondary level.
Priority enrollment The VA will better share with beneficiary information regarding institutions which allow priority (early) enrollment to student Veterans.
REAP eligibility credited toward post-9/11 GI BIll program Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) service members can apply their service credit toward the post-9/11 GI Bill.
Work-study expansion The expiration date for work-study qualification was removed.
GI Bill monthly housing allowance Service members using post-9/11 GI Bill after January 1, 2018 will receive a monthly housing allowance.
Changes to licensing and certification charges The charges under these concepts will be prorated based on the fee charge for the test
Changes to survivors' and dependents' educational assistance New enrolments under the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance  (DEA)after 08/01/2018 will decrease from 45 months to 36 month, enrolments prior to this date will maintain 45 months of benefits. The monthly allowance after 10/01/2018 increase to $1,224 for full-time coursework, $967 three quarter of time and $710 half-time.
Changes to transfer of benefits (TBE) Dependents' entitlement can be transfer from a deceased dependent to another,  in case veterans' death the dependent' beneficier can transfer the entitlement.  
Informing schools about beneficiary entitlement After 08/01/2018 the amount for educational assistance entitled to each beneficiary  must be informed by the State to educational institutions. The veterans may opt to not share this information.
Monthly housing allowance during active duty service The effective day for receiving housing allowance will be the day the beneficier is discharge from duty,  before this bill the effective day corresponded to the first day of the next full month
Monthly housing based on campus where student attends most classes Monthly houses allowance consider the zipcode where the beneficier attend the majority  of classes rather the school zip code
Pilot programs for technology courses The state  will give the opportunity to beneficiaries to enroll in high technology education program based on the skills demands  by employers and industry
Purple Heart recipients Recipients of the Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001 are entitled to Post-911 GI Benefits (100% up to 36 months).
Reserve component benefits National Guard and Reserve members who perform service under 10 U.S.C. 12304a or 12304b are entitled to benefits.
Reserve duty that counts toward post-9/11 eligibility If a Reservist entered active duty for medical reasons, this is counted towards active duty time necessary for Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.
Yellow Ribbon extension to Fry and Purple Heart recipients Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, universities choose to provide matching funding to cover tuition and fees that exceed those covered under the GI Bill. The Forever GI Bill allows Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients to use this program.
More benefits for STEM programs Up to nine months of additional benefits are provided for those enrolled in STEM degree fields.
Consolidation of benefit levels The 40% benefit level has been eliminated and folded into the 60% benefit level.
Yellow Ribbon extension to active duty servicemembers Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, universities choose to provide matching funding to cover tuition and fees that exceed those covered under the GI Bill. The Forever GI Bill allows active duty servicemembers to use this program.

Additional Resources

References

  1. ^ "Harry Walter Colmery - Kansapedia - Kansas Historical Society". www.kshs.org. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Forever GI Bill - Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act - Education and Training". www.benefits.va.gov. Retrieved .



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