Active duty Soldiers, spouses to receive funding for textbooks under GI Bill changes

| August 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

Eligible beneficiaries can also receive housing allowance, fee reimbursement

WASHINGTON — Active duty Soldiers and their spouses will soon be able to get funding for books and supplies as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Beginning Oct. 1, active duty members and their spouses can receive up to $1,000 for books and supplies, per academic year, as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Active duty members were not previously eligible for the books and supplies funding.

Additional benefits to service members and veterans include reimbursement of fees for exams used for admission to colleges. Such exams include the ACT, GMAT or SAT.

Changes to the bill also mean reimbursement for more than one licensing or certification examination. Additionally, expanded benefits for non-college degree programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeship training, flight programs and correspondence training are available.

“I think the great thing about these changes (is) that it brings a lot more training options under the umbrella of this already robust program,” said Keith Wilson, director, education service, Department of Veterans Affairs.

If veterans who are newly enrolled in the program are entitled to the housing allowance, they can receive that benefit while enrolled in certificate, non-college degree programs or even long-distance learning. Active duty Soldiers and their spouses do not qualify for this benefit. Veterans enrolled in distance learning could receive up to 50 percent of the housing allowance provided to those who enrolled in on-campus education programs.

The housing allowance for those in resident training is now prorated based on a student’s course load. A student taking a course load that is approximately 80 percent of what a school deems “full time” would receive 80 percent of the housing allowance. Housing allowance for an in-resident student taking a full load is equivalent to the basic housing allowance for a sergeant with dependents.

Additional changes to benefits under the bill include elimination of housing payments for short-gap periods between enrollments. In the past, during the less-than-one-month breaks between semesters, beneficiaries could continue to receive housing payments. But that is no longer the case, Wilson said.

Students will have to practice some “sound financial management” on their own to make rent payments during the short non-enrollment periods between semesters. Wilson pointed out that under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, beneficiaries have never received housing allowance during the three-month summer break.

When beneficiaries did receive housing payments between enrollments, Wilson said they were actually burning up part of their benefits. The bill provides for 36 months of benefits. If a student was getting just housing benefits for the nearly one-month-period between the fall and spring semesters that would burn up a month of benefits.

The new change in the law also affects payment eligibility and accounts for active duty service performed by National Guard members under Title 32.

A summary of recent changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill can be found at gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/Post911_changes.html.

 

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Category: Army News Service, News

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