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New Expansions to the G.I. Bill: What They Mean for Members of the Military

Feb 24, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

The G.I. Bill recently underwent a new expansion. The new overhaul was much needed according to a Senate committee that recently discovered that a large proportion of federal tuition aid—as much as 37%—going to military members actually gets funneled to for-profit colleges, even though only 25% of veterans attend private for-profit colleges.

Due to the 90/10 rule that prohibits schools from taking more than 90% of their revenue from federal student loans -  for-profit schools have begun actively recruiting veterans.  This is because money distributed and collected from veteran students will not count towards the 90/10 percentage - which makes them ideal students for for-profits schools to recruit.

The new rules are aimed primarily at giving veterans more freedom to choose different types of education programs rather than only degree-based education—in the hope that more veterans will choose programs other than for-profit schools. In addition, the Veterans’ Administration plans to scrutinize all for-profit colleges that enroll more than 300 students under the G.I. Bill. But that’s not the only benefit this overhaul has produced for veterans. Here’s a look at how your
G.I. Bill benefits will change.

You can now apply to more than colleges and universities

Student Military

t’s not easy to return to school after military service—but the new G.I. Bill overhauls will hopefully make it easier for thousands of military members.

 

The money available for members of the military and veterans used to go only to degree programs at accredited colleges and universities. Now, it has broader reach—covering non-degree institutions such as flight schools, licensing and apprenticeship programs, and vocational and technical schools.

National Guard members are now eligible

Two years ago, the G.I. Bill got another major upgrade—this one upgrading what essentially amounted to a few hundred dollars a month in expense reimbursements for most veterans to free college tuition and room and board at state schools. Under the old rules, National Guard members weren’t eligible for these benefit, but under the new rules, they will be—retroactively to August 1, 2009. The amount you are eligible for depends on how long you served on active duty.

Tuition reimbursement for those attending private colleges is more fair

Under the old rules, veterans got free tuition for public state schools in the veteran’s home state. But if a veteran wanted to attend a private college, they would get only as much in tuition benefits as they’d pay at the most expensive state school in their area. This led to large discrepancies in the amount a veteran received based on the state they lived in—a veteran in Michigan, for example, might receive thousands of dollars more in aid than someone living in Missouri, just because state schools in Michigan are more expensive.

Under the new rules, veterans attending private colleges will receive up to $17,500 per year in tuition costs—a number determined based on the median costs of all private colleges nationwide. The number will rise every year based on annual tuition increases. This makes the tuition reimbursement for veterans attending private colleges more equal.

You can now get room-and-board stipends—even while attending college online

The bill also grants veterans attending online colleges a percentage of the room-and-board money granted to those who attend traditional schools. In the past, these stipends were only available to those attending brick-and-mortar schools.

Some family members of veterans no longer have a ten-year restriction

Under the old rules, dependent family members of wounded veterans can use the veteran’s G.I. Bill benefits for their own college costs—for ten years after their veteran family member leaves the military. However, under the new rules, families caring for an injured veteran can waive that ten-year restriction—if caring for the veteran keeps them from going to school within the ten years.

It’s not easy to return to school after military service—but the new G.I. Bill overhauls will hopefully make it easier for thousands of military members. With these changes, military members and their families will have more choices as to where to go to school—and an easier time paying tuition bills.

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