VA Outlines October Changes in Post-9/11 GI Bill

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2011 — The third round of 2011 changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill will take effect Oct. 1, a Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs offi­cial said today.

October’s changes allow eli­gi­ble stu­dents to pay for more edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams with the GI Bill, Kei­th Wil­son, direc­tor of VA’s edu­ca­tion ser­vice, told reporters today dur­ing a tele­phone con­fer­ence.

Pro­grams not lead­ing to col­lege degrees, includ­ing pro­grams offered at schools that don’t grant degrees, will now be eli­gi­ble for GI Bill fund­ing, Wil­son said. Flight pro­grams, cor­re­spon­dence train­ing, on-the-job and appren­tice­ship train­ing also are cov­ered by the GI Bill, he added.

“That’s a sig­nif­i­cant expan­sion,” Wil­son said.

Begin­ning in Octo­ber, the GI Bill will offer a hous­ing allowance to stu­dents not on active duty who are enrolled sole­ly in dis­tance learn­ing, and will allow stu­dents on active duty to receive a stipend for books and sup­plies.

Wil­son said anoth­er change in the hous­ing allowance means stu­dents enrolled more than half time but less than full time will receive a pro-rat­ed hous­ing allowance, rather than the full allowance they used to get.

“Now the hous­ing allowance is tied to the train­ing time,” he said. “So if an indi­vid­ual wants a full hous­ing allowance, they need to be a full-time stu­dent.”

The Post-9/11 Vet­er­ans Edu­ca­tion­al Assis­tance Improve­ments Act of 2010, which Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed into law Jan. 4 of this year, set forth three sets of GI Bill changes. Some of the act’s pro­vi­sions already took effect in March and August.

The act estab­lish­es a cap of $17,500 in annu­al tuition for pub­lic and for­eign schools, and allows pay­ment of all in-state pub­lic school tuition and fees, Wil­son said.

The act also did away with break pay or inter­val pay as of Aug. 1, he not­ed. This was a pro­vi­sion for­mer­ly allow­ing GI Bill ben­e­fits to con­tin­ue for stu­dents on breaks of less than 30 days between peri­ods of enroll­ment. Now, ben­e­fits can be paid only dur­ing peri­ods of enroll­ment, though the 36 months of total eli­gi­bil­i­ty remain unchanged.

The weeks dur­ing which stu­dents received ben­e­fits when not enrolled in school meant they were “burn­ing enti­tle­ment,” which now will be pre­served, Wil­son not­ed, but he added stu­dents will have to plan care­ful­ly for peri­ods between class­es, such as tra­di­tion­al win­ter breaks.

To date, more than 537,000 stu­dents have received more than $11.5 bil­lion in GI Bill ben­e­fits. Wil­son said VA staffers already have received more than 130,000 appli­ca­tions for fall 2011 enroll­ment and have processed more than 110,000 of them.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)