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Military Benefits – What Today’s G.I. Bill Offers You


militaryspouseThe original name for the G.I. Bill of Rights was the “Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944.” The original Act focused heavily on two supportive benefits: financial assistance for tuition and mortgages. Today’s G.I. Bill has continued to develop into a comprehensive transitional assistance program that takes into account both the needs of transitioning military and also the needs of their loved ones, including spouses and dependents. The G.I. Bill began to evolve in earnest after 9/11, when educational benefits, including military scholarships, were expanded yet again and additional benefits were also added.

The G.I. Bill: Explained

While there are many benefits included for eligible personnel under the G.I. Bill, some research and advance planning is often required to make the most of those benefits. There are actually several versions of the G.I. Bill that are active today, the best known and significant of which are often regarded as the original G.I. Bill, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Visiting the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) website can help you identify which version of the G.I. Bill applies to your status.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

The most significant change to the G.I. Bill that occurred post-9/11 is in the area of educational benefits for veterans. The change is so significant that the official name for the revised bill is the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Improvements Act of 2010.” These expanded educational benefits apply to all active duty service personnel or veterans who were serving on or after September 11, 2001.

Minimum Criteria to Qualify for G.I. Bill Benefits

At present, the basic minimum criteria you must meet in order to qualify for benefits under the G.I. Bill include these.

  • 90 days of active duty. Eligible service personnel must show proof of engaging in active duty (in war or peacetime, in combat or in other capacities) for 90 days to qualify.
  • Honorable discharge. Eligible service personnel must show proof of honorable discharge to qualify.

Your G.I. Bill Benefits

The basic benefits all versions of the G.I. Bill offered to military service personnel and/or eligible veterans include these.

  • Education/training and tuition assistance. Education and training can include higher education at the college level as well as applicable vocational training assistance.
  • Mortgage assistance. Mortgage assistance offers eligible personnel and veterans the ability to receive special mortgage rates.
  • Unemployment and career search/job placement assistance. The VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) and Hire Our Heroes (HOH) Acts of 2011 required additional unemployment compensation and career search/job placement benefits under the G.I. Bill.
  • Benefits for spouses and dependents. Eligible spouses and dependents can also access a variety of benefits under various versions of the G.I. Bill.

Transfer of G.I. Bill Benefits

One of the most important benefit components of the revised G.I. Bill includes your right to transfer your benefits under the G.I. Bill to immediate family members. These are the criteria you must meet to qualify.

  • Order the transfer to an eligible family member. Eligible family members include spouses and one or more dependents or some combination of both.
  • Six years of prior service plus re-enlistment for four more years of service. In order for the transfer to be valid, you must have already completed six prior years of service and be willing to re-enlist for four additional years of duty.
  • Already have 10 years of service completed. If you have already completed 10 years of service, you may transfer your benefits without re-enlisting for four additional years.
  • Retirement dates affect your obligations. Depending on your set retirement date (if applicable) the requirement to serve an additional length of time may be waived or reduced.

When to Access G.I. Bill Benefits

The military recommends that any active duty or transitioning service personnel begin planning to access G.I. Bill benefits up to 24 months before they will be needed. This incorporates plenty of time for preparation, planning, application and receipt of benefits. Proper pre-planning becomes especially important when tuition assistance benefits under the G.I. Bill.

By gaining a complete understanding of the full range of benefits you can receive under the G.I. Bill, you will find that the transition back to civilian life is easier and more affordable for you and your loved ones.

 

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A Guide To Understanding The Yellow Ribbon Program


There have been a lot of changes to the financial aid programs from the United States Military since their start 60 years ago and especially in the past 10-15 years.  The GI Bill is intended to assist those who have served in our military with their higher education costs. The GI Bill has been modified and now referred to as the “Post 9/11 GI Bill” and summarized on the government’s website.   In addition to the GI Bill, there is also a newer service called the Yellow Ribbon Program which aims to serve our veterans post 9/11.  The requirements and benefits are determined by a number of factors including length of military service, state that the individual resides in, as well as the school that the student chooses to attend.

The Programs Defined

To understand the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans, an understanding of the Post 9/11 GI Bill must be understood first.  According to the GI Bill site, “The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay your tuition based upon the highest in-state tuition charged by a public educational institution in the state where the school is located. The amount of support that an individual may qualify for depends on where they live and what type of degree they are pursuing.”

Basic eligibility requirements:

  • Provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001
  • Individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.
  • You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The Benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill:

  • Tuition & fees directly to the school not to exceed the maximum in-state tuition & fees at a public Institution of Higher Learning. See chart listing maximum in-state tuition rates
  • For more expensive tuition, a program exists which may help to reimburse the difference. This program is called the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • A monthly housing allowance based on the Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 with dependents at the location of the school.
  • For those attending foreign schools (schools without a main campus in the U.S.) the BAH rate is fixed at $1,347.00 for 2011 and $1,348.00 for 2010.
  • An annual books & supplies stipend of $1,000 paid proportionately based on enrollment.
  • A one-time rural benefit payment for eligible individuals.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an enhancement of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.  Institutions of higher education can enter into an agreement with Veterans Affairs to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate.

If a veteran is matriculating at a private institution, graduate school, or going to school out-of-state, they may accrue extra tuition and fees that exceed the amount of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  If a veteran is enrolled at a Yellow Ribbon participating institution and the tuition and fees exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition or fees, additional funds may be available for the education program without an additional charge.

Basic Eligibility Requirements:

Only individuals entitled to the maximum benefit rate (based on service requirements) may receive this funding.  You served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months;

  • You were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001;
  • You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran’s service under the eligibility criteria listed above.

It is encouraged to check out the websites mentioned in this post for the full amount of information, as well as double checking the list of schools currently associated with the Yellow Ribbon Program.

This article was written by Jenn Pedde. She is the community manager for the Masters in Social Work program at the University of Southern California.  She’s an avid traveler and enjoys photography. We are pleased to have her as a Contributor on CheapScholar.org

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Funding the GI Bill


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Veteran Affairs Provides Tuition Benefit for Study Abroad


The Department of Veteran Affairs has been very busy processing requests from military personnel across the country looking to receive reimbursement or payment for college tuition. With implementation of the Yellow Ribbon program, the VA office has had a difficult time keeping up with demand but they are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and it appears that they may be better prepared for the upcoming fall semester than they were this time last year.

In the past, it was unclear if students were able to receive VA education benefits if they planned on studying abroad. It seemed liked a good idea but the VA was not experienced enough with the various study abroad models to make a clear cut decision. Since many students usually intend on taking a semester (or year) to enrich themselves by studying abroad and being immersed in a different culture while in college, the VA outlined the educational benefits that would now be available to these students

As you can imagine, the study abroad benefit does come with a few catches though…

  1. The courses that are taken in the study abroad program must carry credit hours that will apply to their area of study.
  2. Programs where the “host school” is internationally based must be approved prior to the benefit being available.
  3. Lastly, the VA can not pay any benefits for study abroad unless the student is REQUIRED to study abroad as part of their program (this one is probably going to be the stopping block for many).

The following are a few different scenarios of how the study abroad program can be billed and then how the VA would in turn provide monetary benefit:

(1)The student pays tuition and fees to it’s home institution as though they were a student on the campus and the school arranges (financially) for the student to participate in a study abroad program. These type of arrangements usually come in the form of direct exchanges (a student from the foreign school comes to the domestic campus and the domestic student studies at the foreign campus. No money exchanges hands – just the students).

Utilizing this scenario, the following are how the VA benefits would apply:

  • VA could pay the home school’s tuition, up to the in-state maximum allowed.(Room and board charges cannot be included in tuition costs)
  • VA could provide a monthly housing allowance to the student, if the student is enrolled more than ½-time that the student uses to help pay room and board costs
  • VA could provide books and supplies stipend
  • VA would pay no charges directly to the host school
  • VA could not pay for any fees specifically due to participation in the study abroad program unless study abroad was mandatory for the specific degree.
  • For schools that charge a comprehensive fee that includes the home school’s tuition, they would have to break out the fee and report the charged tuition
  • VA cannot pay airfare
  • VA cannot pay amenities fees or host school fees

(2) The student’s home institution charges a special study abroad fee along with tuition and fees to the student.

Utilizing this scenario, the following are how the VA benefits would apply:

  • VA could pay the tuition and fees, up to the national average in-state maximum tuition and fee charges (Room and board charges cannot be included in tuition costs). Fees the VA can pay are fees students that regularly attend the institution must pay—not fees specific to study abroad students.
  • VA could provide a monthly housing allowance to the student, if the student is enrolled more than ½-time that the student uses to help pay room and board costs
  • VA could provide books and supplies stipend
  • VA would pay tuition directly to host school
  • VA could not pay for any fees the home school charges for study abroad fees
  • VA cannot pay airfare


(3) The student enrolls directly into an International School.

Utilizing this scenario, the following are how the VA benefits would apply:

  • VA could pay the tuition and fees, up to the national average in-state maximum tuition and fee charges (Room and board charges cannot be included in tuition costs). Fees that the VA can pay are fees students that regularly attend the institution must pay—not fees specific to study abroad students.
  • VA could provide a monthly housing allowance to the student, if the student is enrolled more than ½-time that the student uses to help pay room and board costs
  • VA could provide books and supplies stipend
  • VA would pay tuition directly to host school
  • VA could not pay for any fees the home school charges for study abroad fees
  • VA cannot pay airfare

Hope this information is helpful for GI Bill recipients. If you need further assistance or want to apply for educational benefits, you can contact the VA’s education sector via phone at 888-442-4551 or you can visit them on the web.

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John D. Fry Scholarship Program for Military Children


The armed services recognizes that many young people have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty for the past 9 years and that a good number of these men and women have left behind children that will be needing a resource to help them make their way through college (from a financial aspect). As a commitment to help these future scholars, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs recently rolled out an educational scholarship, similar to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to provide funding for their educational endeavors.

The Fry Scholarship is named for Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry who was 28 years of age when he died while trying to diffuse an explosive in Iraq back in 2006. He left behind three young children.

Eligible children will be able to receive up to the highest in-state public undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly stipend for living allowances and book fees. The Department of Veteran Affairs began accepting applications on May 1st, 2010 and estimate that nearly 1500 children will make use of the benefit this year alone.

The following outlines the eligibility requirements for this scholarship program:

Children of an active duty member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, are eligible for this benefit. A child may be married or over 23 and still be eligible.

Eligible children:

  • are entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level
  • have 15 years to use the benefit beginning on his or her 18th birthday
  • may use the benefit until his or her 33rd birthday
  • cannot use benefit before age 18, even if he or she has completed high school
  • are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program

Rules for eligible children serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces:

  • If the child is eligible under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve, and/or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, then he or she must relinquish eligibility under one of those programs to receive benefits under Post-9/11 GI Bill.
  • A child’s character of discharge from his or her own service does not impact eligibility resulting from the line of duty death of a parent.
  • A child on active duty will receive benefits at the active duty benefit rate (eligible for full tuition and fees but not eligible for monthly housing allowance or books and supplies stipend).
  • A child on active duty who meets the service requirements to transfer entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill may be eligible to transfer up to 36 months of Fry Scholarship entitlement to his or her dependents.

If you want to apply for this benefit you can fill out VA Form 22-5490 “Dependents Application for Educational Benefits”

Additional information can be found at: www.GIBill.va.gov or by calling 1-888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551)

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Education Grants Still Available for Military Spouses


76538846Beginning in March of 2009 a benefit for military spouses to receive $6000 in educational funding was put into place. Due to what was apparently an “oversight” this program was immediately halted, without notification to participants, in February when the expenses exceeded the $174 million dollar budget that was originally earmarked for the program.

Fortunately, the program – called Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA – was put back into place and anyone that already had an application in process requesting funds is now eligible to receive their award. Unfortunately, no new applications are being taken at this time until the Department of Defense decides on a long-term plan for the program.

So, if you were a military spouse that applied for these funds and received a denial letter, you will want follow-up because chances are that you will now be eligible. If you are a military spouse and do not take advantage of this benefit, you should keep your ears to the ground and once the application process reopens, you should jump at the opportunity as quick as you can because it appears continued funding is going to be an ongoing issue.

You can visit the following site to get more information as it is made available: http://www.militaryonesource.com

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New GI Bill Update


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