The changes build on the existing Post-9/11 GI Bill, and the most talked about change is the one that removes the 15 year time limit for people to use their GI Bill benefit. For this reason, the new changes are being referred to as the "Forever GI Bill."
Let's look at the major changes:
Elimination Of The 15 Year Time Limit To Use The GI Bill
The law eliminates the current 15-year time limit on use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill for those who were discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013. This means that if you are a recent veteran you have forever to use up all your GI Bill benefit!
It also removed the 15 year time for surviving dependents using the Fry Scholarship. Surviving spouses and children who first became eligible after Jan. 1, 2013 will have no time limit to use their Fry Scholarship benefits.
There are two changes to the housing allowance portion of the GI Bill:
- Anyone first using their Post-9/11 GI Bill after Jan. 1, 2018 will see a lower housing allowance than people who were using it before. This is due to a quirk in the law that lowers the military Basic Allowance for Housing to cover 90 percent of the housing costs instead of 100 percent. If you used the GI Bill before 2018, your housing allowance won't decrease.
- Effective Aug. 1, 2018, housing allowance will be paid based on where you physically attend a majority of your classes. This could be a good thing or bad thing depending on your situation. The law used to pay you housing allowance based on the main campus of your college so you could see your housing allowance change for classes after Aug. 1.
GI Bill Benefits Restored For Those Who Attended Some Colleges That Closed
If you went to a school that closed or lost accreditation and you didn't get credit for the classes you took, the GI Bill that you used for those classes will be given back to you. This is effective for any school closings after January 1, 2015.
MORE GUARD, RESERVE MEMBERS NOW ELIGIBLE
Those called to active duty under sections 12304(a) or 12304(b) are now eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Previously, only those called to active duty by presidential order as a result of a national emergency were eligible. This applies to all those mobilized after Aug. 1, 2009, but you can only get paid for classes that start after Aug. 1, 2018.
Dependents Education Assistance
Dependents' Education Assistance (DEA) monthly payments will increase by about 50 percent, but the maximum number of months that a dependent can get DEA decreases from 45 to 36. This is effective Oct. 1, 2018.
Changes to Testing Reimbursement
If you are using your GI Bill to pay for licensing exams, certification exams, or national tests your entitlement will be charged based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test, this should be a much better deal for everyone.
Transferring GI Bill To Family Members
While this isn't technically part of the Forever GI Bill, it does impact enough people that it needs to be explained here.
Effective immediately military members MUST commit to at least four more years to be eligible to transfer benefits to their dependents. Previously, members who served a minimum of six years and committed to serving an additional four years were eligible to transfer the education benefit to their dependents. Some who were barred from completing the additional for years for reasons such as physical disability, high-year-tenure, or other things could get waivers.
Also, effective starting July 12, 2019, military members will need to start the GI Bill benefit transfer process between six and 16 years of service, or lose out.
More Changes Coming
There are still more changes coming to the GI Bill, including expanded eligibility for STEM training, and pilot programs for some high-tech classes that aren't part of a normal degree program.
With increasing college costs, do not overlook the transferability of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to former military spouses and children during divorce negotiations in Massachusetts.
Should you be in the midst of a military divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.