Tuesday, May 19, 2009

G. I. Bill FAQ Part 2 - Memorial Day Week Special

G.I. Bill for Veterans and Employment(photo by donjuanna)

This week here on the JobSpot we have some very special information for veterans and for families of veterans looking to find a job in today's climate. While the job search may be similar to that of a non veteran, there are a few extra resources, Bills and tips that can help accelerate your transition into civilian life. Today we examine part 2 of 2 on the G.I. Bill that was introduced post 9/11 (For part 1 please click here).

(P.S. Tip: The Department of Veterans Affairs is the only resource that can answer your personal and specific GI Bill entitlement questions. Call 1-888-GIBILL-1 for questions concerning the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The answers given below have been derived from interviews and VA documentation. However, many questions remain, and much is still to be determined.
Will my $1,200 enrollment fee be refunded?
Yes, MGIB (chapter 30) contributions (excluding $600 buy-up) will be refunded at a proportional amount [based on the number of months remaining under MGIB at time of Post 9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) election] of the basic $1200 contribution. This refund
will be included in the last monthly stipend payment when chapter 33 entitlement exhausts. Individuals who do not exhaust entitlement under chapter 33 will not receive a refund of contributions paid under MGIB.

Does the Post 9/11 GI Bill have an expiration date?
Yes, your eligibility to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits expires 15 years from the date of the last discharge or release from active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.

Are there stipulations to my eligibility?
Yes, in order to retain eligibility, after meeting the previously listed service requirements, you must:
  • Be honorably discharged from Armed Forces; or
  • Be released from Armed Forces with service characterized as honorable and placed on the retired list, temporary disability retired list, or transferred to the Fleet Reserve or the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve; or
  • Be released from Armed Forces with service characterized as honorable for further service in a reserve component; or
  • Be discharged or released from Armed Forces for a medical condition which existed prior to service(EPTS), Hardship (HDSP), or a condition which interfered with duty (CIWD); or
  • Continue on active duty.

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) was limited to 36 Months of benefits, is there similar limit for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?
Yes, like the MGIB you are generally entitled to 36 months of educational assistance. You may not receive benefits under more than one VA education program at the same time. If you are entitled to more than one GI Bill program you may be eligible for a maximum of 48 months of entitlement when using benefits under two or more GI Bill programs.

What types of education programs are approved for the new Post 9/11 GI Bill?
The Post 9/11 GI Bill differs in some ways from the MGIB when it comes to the types of programs that can be used. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill you may receive educational and training assistance for any program of education that is approved under MGIB (chapter 30) and offered by a college or university. This includes vocational training programs that are offered by accredited colleges and universities only. However, if you were previously eligible for the MGIB, MGIB-SR (1606), or REAP (1607) you may continue to receive educational assistance for MGIB approved programs not offered by colleges and universities (i.e. flight, correspondence, APP/OJT, preparatory courses, and national tests).

Will I be able to switch back and forth between the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill?
No, in simple terms, you will no longer be eligible under the MGIB or other programs, after you elect to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33). Any contributions being made under MGIB (Chapter 30) will cease the month following the election.

Can I transfer my GI Bill benefit to family members?
Yes, but the details for doing so have not been completely clarified yet. Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits: The Department of Defense (DoD) is authorized to allow individuals who, on or after August 1, 2009, have served at least 6 years in the Armed Forces and who agree to serve at least another 4 years in the Armed Forces to transfer unused entitlement to their dependents (spouse, children).

The Department of Defense may, by regulation, impose additional eligibility requirements and limit the number of months transferable to not less than 18 months. Transfer of Unused Education Benefits Under MGIB (Chapter 30), 1606, or 1607 to Family Members. The Department of Defense is authorized to allow individuals who have served at least 6 years in the Armed Forces and who agree to serve at least another 4 years in the Armed Forces to transfer unused entitlement to their dependents (spouse, children) under chapters 30, 1606, and 1607. The Department of Defense may, by regulation, impose additional eligibility requirements and limit the number of months transferable to not less
than 18 months.

I am a member of the Selected Reserve, has the expiration on my MGIB-SR benefit been extended?
Yes, effective as of June 30, 2008, the 14-year period of eligibility for members of the Selected Reserve has been rescinded. If you are a member of the Selected Reserve with remaining entitlement under MGIB-SR (chapter 1606), you will remain eligible until the date you separate from the Selected Reserve. If you had remaining MGIB-SR entitlement and reached a delimiting date, you may receive benefits for training pursued on or after June 30, 2008. However you may not receive benefits for training pursued between their original delimiting date and June 30, 2008 - in other words no retroactive payments will be made.

What if the new Post 9/11 GI Bill isn’t enough to cover my online post-graduate studies?
Under the new Post 9/11 GI Bill, you will have two options. First is to decline the Post 9/11 benefits and continue to use the MGIB. This is one reason why the new law included a 20 percent increase in the current MGIB (chapter 30) benefits. The other option is called the “ Yellow Ribbon Program.” Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, colleges and universities may voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund up to 50 percent of the established charges not already covered under chapter 33. VA will match each additional dollar funded by the school. Only individuals entitled to the 100 percent benefit rate (based on service requirements) may receive this funding.

Many veterans may face a difficult choice next year. You will need to carefully weigh your options. You may find that declining the Post 9/11 GI Bill and sticking to the MGIB will best serve your needs. Ultimately the choice is up to you, take your time and be sure to consider all the facts before making your decision. Remember, you have a year, and a lot can change between now and August 1, 2009.

Has the current MGIB payment rate been increased?
Yes, effective August 1, 2008, the MGIB payment rate will be increased to $1,321 for full-time enrollment, a 20% increase over the 2007 rate.

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I hope this information was useful. Tomorrow we will take a look at the Vocational Rehab and Employment Programs offered to veterans. Later in the week you will hear testimonials from former soldiers, resources and more all in a salute to our Veterans as we approach Memorial Day.

All of these articles and more can be found throughout the state of Florida in our Veteran's Transition Guide. A complete list of Central Florida locations will be available by the end of the week, and you can always grab a copy at Workforce Central Florida.

Please let us know if you have any comments or additions and we'll be sure to address them.

-Greg Rollett

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