Major Changes to the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance
We’ve written about saving for college expenses and the GI Bill before, but within the last week they announced some pretty serious changes to the way the GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance (TA) program works. Let’s take a look at what was changed.
Here is the text of the DoD news release announcing the change, which is effective July 12, 2019:
The Department of Defense issued a substantive change today to department policy on the transfer by service members in the Uniformed Services of “Post-9/11 GI Bill” educational benefits to eligible family member recipients.
Effective one-year from the date of this change, eligibility to transfer those benefits will be limited to service members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). Previously, there were no restrictions on when a service member could transfer educational benefits to their family members. The provision that requires a service member to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
“After a thorough review of the policy, we saw a need to focus on retention in a time of increased growth of the Armed Forces,” said Stephanie Miller, director of Accessions Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “This change continues to allow career service members that earned this benefit to share it with their family members while they continue to serve.” She added “this change is an important step to preserve the distinction of transferability as a retention incentive.”
If a service member fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a “force shaping” event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven’t served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election. This policy affects service members in the Uniformed Services which includes the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the commissioned members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The new DoD instruction on the Post 9/11 Gi Bill can be found here.
In addition, there are some other articles discussing the changes. Here’s a Navy press release and a here’s a Military Times article – DoD to Bar GI Bill Transfer for Long-Serving Troops.
In this article, two changes associated with the forever GI Bill are described:
The first program (Provision 111, More Benefits for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs), which premieres Aug. 1, 2019, will provide the opportunity for up to an additional nine months (and maximum of $30,000) of GI bill benefits for eligible beneficiaries enrolled in programs focused on STEM fields. These fields typically require more than the traditional credit hour requirements to earn a degree. Priority will be given to those who are entitled to 100 percent of the GI bill benefit, already have enrolled in a STEM program, and have completed 60 semester credit hours.
The second program (Provision 116, Pilot Program for Technology Courses or VET TEC) is a five-year pilot program with opportunities to enroll in high-technology programs of education that provide skills needed for in-demand employment. These programs include computer software and programming, information science, media application, and data processing. The VA will provide employers or training programs with GI bill funds to offset training expenses and a housing allowance for the beneficiary, with the expectation that employment is the end game. This program also is expected to premiere sometime in 2019.
If you click on the link above, it’ll take you to a pretty detailed article on TA. The changes to the Army program include:
On Aug. 5, the Army will end its current policy requiring soldiers to wait one year after initial military training before using TA.
The new policy also eliminates a 10-year waiting period for soldiers between using TA for a bachelor’s degree and for a master’s. They will soon be allowed to go for the second degree in less than 10 years if they have completed advanced-level military training.
The Marines recently made changes as well:
The Marine Corps, too, has walked back its time-in-service requirement, from 24 to 18 months for Marines who “demonstrate significant extraordinary effort beyond the fulfillment of all assignments and normal expectations” at an O-5 level commander’s discretion, according to the latest policy released in May.
The Navy changes include:
More sailors will be able to take advantage of TA as well, with recent changes to the Navy’s rules that went into effect June 1. Among these was the removal of the Navy’s annual TA cap of 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours. Now, sailors can access TA up to the DoD’s $4,500 yearly limit.
The Navy has also instituted an automated approval process for TA requests and is allowing sailors to use TA for certificates.
The Air Force hasn’t made any changes. They are busy golfing:
The Air Force does not plan on making any changes for the next fiscal year, according to Senior Master Sgt. Harry Kibbe, an Air Force spokesman.