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New Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- The Department of Veterans Affairs has released details in recent months regarding key updates to the GI Bill, with several possible impacts to members at Westover Air Reserve Base pursuing educational goals. The recent changes in the veteran education benefit law were enacted by Congress in 2017 under the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill.” The changes are intended to add additional benefits to service members and veterans pursuing civilian education, adding key provisions to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which was passed in 2008. One key stipulation of the Forever GI Bill is the removal of the 15-year window to use Post-9/11 benefits. Another change allows students affected by an unexpected school closure to receive back entitlements for charges incurred while enrolled. Also important, beneficiaries are now able to use Post-9/11 education benefits for certain independent study programs, such as online learning and technical training. The law also allows reservists who became eligible for Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) prior to November 25, 2015, but lost REAP benefits when the program ended, may elect to have their qualifying service counted toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Another important change was made to the transfer of benefit stipulation. Under the amended law, veterans who have transferred benefits to a dependent can transfer them again to another dependent in the event of the original designee. Additionally, if the veteran dies, designees can elect to transfer his or her benefits to another eligible dependent of the deceased veteran. A key change to the Post-9/11 GI Bill housing allowance now stipulates that the beneficiary will receive a housing allowance based on the zip code of the campus in which the majority of their classes are taken. While some of the changes take effect immediately, other additions to the bill will be phased in gradually. As of August 1, 2019, the VA will provide up to nine months of additional benefits to Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients enrolled in a STEM education program. Additionally, the VA will eliminate the 40-percent level for Post-9/11 benefits. Benefits for members eligible for partial payments will begin at the 50-percent tier as of August 1, 2020. To learn more about changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Westover airmen are encouraged to visit the Wing Education and Training Office and on Facebook. [add link: https://www.facebook.com/WestoverWingEducationAndTraining/ ] (Story adapted from a Veterans Affairs information publication accessed December 9, 2018, available at https://benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/docs/factsheets/ForeverGIBillFactSheet.pdf.)