Posts

On-The-Job Training and Apprenticeship Opportunities for Veterans

onthejobtraining

In today’s competitive job market, those seeking employment must create their own career paths by seeking out opportunities to develop skills and experience.

Both on-the-job (OJT) and apprenticeship training programs are available for Veterans using their VA education benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These programs allow Veterans to learn a trade or skill through training on the job participation rather than attending formal classroom instruction.

The programs offered typically include a training contract for a specific period of time with an employer or union. At the end of the training, a job certification is issued or journeyman status achieved.

While most Veterans receive a salary from the training employer or union during training veterans can expect that as their skills increase, so may their salaries. GI Bill payments are issued monthly after VA receives certification of hours worked from the employer or union.

There are a wide variety of on-the-job and apprenticeship opportunities available to veterans. Unfortunately, these programs are not available to active duty service members or spouses using a transferred benefit.

Although the participation requirements are the same for all GI Bill programs, the payment amount varies depending on the program. View the payment rates for your GI Bill program.

Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients. The payment rates are as follows:

  • You will receive 100 percent of your applicable MHA during the first six months of training in these increments: •80 percent of your applicable MHA during the second six months of training
  • 60 percent of your applicable MHA during the third six months of training
  • 40 percent of your applicable MHA during the fourth six months of training
  • 20 percent of your applicable MHA during the remainder of the training
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients will also receive up to $83 per month for books and supplies.

All other GI Bill programs. For all other GI Bill programs, the payment rates are as follows:

  • 75 percent of the full-time GI Bill rate for the first six months of training
  • 55 percent of the full-time GI Bill rate for the second six months of training
  • 35 percent of the full-time GI Bill rate for the remainder of the training program

Employers interested in participating in this program should review the Understanding On-The-Job Training & Apprenticeship Approval Guide. Employers can also contact their local State Approving Agency to determine which programs Veterans should enroll in to maximize their VA educational benefits.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

House Vote Reduces GI Bill Housing Stipend for Military Children

bah cut

By Debbie Gregory.

The House of Representatives approved a bill that would cut, by half, the housing stipend for children of service members going to school with transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it would need to pass and then be signed by the president to become law.

The language, part of the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Act, cuts the payment for children of service members using the transferred funding. It would not apply to benefits already transferred or transferred within 180 days of the bill becoming law.

The housing stipend, often one of the most valuable parts of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, is typically calculated based on the Basic Allowance for Housing that active-duty service members would receive if stationed where the school is located. The housing stipend may be worth as much as the tuition and fees the benefit covers, sometimes more.

A spokesman for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee said the cuts were necessary to offset, or pay for, other aspects of the bill. He also noted that the cuts were less drastic than those recommended from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, said that while the bill has “absolutely wonderful programs,” paying for those by reducing a benefit that service members have been promised “is an egregious breach of trust.”

“Why come to the soldiers first? There’s no other place in the federal government we can find this [funding]?” Walz asked.

Veteran and military groups seem to be split on whether or not this is a good move.

Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans both wrote letters favoring the overall bill.

The Association of the United States Navy and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are against the cuts.

The measure would not affect the stipends of veterans using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits they earned themselves.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Housing Benefits Available for On-The-Job Training

ojt

By Debbie Gregory.

It’s a shame to leave hard-earned benefits on the table. In 2011, a benefit was added to the Post 9/11 GI Bill that gave living stipends to non-students who were seeking on-the-job (OJT) training or apprenticeships. Unfortunately, only about 2 percent of eligible veterans have taken advantage of it.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill was approved in 2008, covering tuition and living expenses for veterans who wanted to attend college. Three years later, Congress added the OJT and apprenticeship benefit to provide transition support for veterans who sought alternatives to education.

These programs typically involve entering into a training contract for a specific period of time with an employer or union. At the end of the training period, a job certification is issued or journeyman status achieved.According to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) the offer provides a full or partial housing allowance to working veterans.

So why are the other 98 percent of eligible veterans leaving this benefit on the table?

One reason might be that the Department of Veterans Affairs has the tendency to emphasize the educational components of the GI Bill, offering few details on how to access the on-the-job training and apprenticeship benefits.

Another key problem is the administrative burdens that make some employers reluctant to participate, forcing employers to fill out forms and submit them to the VA before participating veterans begin receiving checks. Employers must also agree to incrementally raise the veteran employees’ wages in accordance with the VA plan.

The VA has agreed to develop a guide for employers and apprenticeship sponsors about Post-9/11 GI Bill OJT and apprenticeship benefits.

Benefits may include a full housing allowance along with a small stipend for books or supplies for the first six months. For the second six months, the benefit is 80 percent of the housing allowance tied to the veteran’s location. For the third six-month period, the percentage of the housing allowance drops to 60 percent. For the fourth six-month period, the housing allowance is reduced to 40 percent, and any time beyond 24 months, the stipend is at 20 percent of the housing allowance.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

In-state Tuition for Veterans and Their Families

instate tuition1

By Debbie Gregory.

In-state tuition rates to public colleges and universities will now be available to all recent U.S. military veterans and their families throughout the country.

In honor of Veterans Day, the White House made the announcement, reiterating President Obama’s “steadfast commitment” to our military members and veterans.

The president is also calling on Congress to move forward on three pieces of legislation to help improve veterans’ education.

According to Cecilia Muñoz, the Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, “These pieces of legislation will really ensure that veterans have the opportunities and assistance to … realize the American dream.”

The first bill would heighten standards for schools receiving G.I. Bill funds. The second bill is aimed at protecting G.I. Bill benefits for veterans whose schools close mid-term. The third bill would increase regulation of for-profit colleges, many of which target veterans.

“What we think this does is ramp up the accountability” of those schools, Munoz said, adding that it ensures “we are requiring a high-quality education for veterans that have served us well.”

Additionally, the VA has revamped the GI Bill Comparison Tool, another way to help Veterans obtain and use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The GI Bill® Comparison Tool allows Veterans to enter their military status, the GI Bill benefit that they are thinking of using, their Cumulative Post 9-11 Active Duty Service , and the name of the school that they wish to research. The tool then provides a list of the schools that match. By clicking on the school’s name, the user can then read the data that the tool provides, including the amount of tuition and fees, the amount of Monthly Allowance for Housing (MAH) the student will receive, and the amount of book stipend.

The GI Bill Comparison will let the student know if their potential college, university or vocational school meets the required guidelines to receive federal funding, and whether it is a Yellow Ribbon School, how many GI Bill students there are. It also specifies whether there is a student veteran group, a VetSuccess on campus, etc.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Some For-Profit Colleges See GI Bill as Cash Cow: Military Connection

Some For-Profit Colleges See GI Bill as Cash Cow

By Debbie Gregory.

In 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill significantly increased the higher education benefits available to individuals who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces after September 10, 2001. In the transition back to civilian life, many veterans are finding their way back to school to begin or continue their higher education and career plans.

With that said, the choice of school may be surprisingly complex. Economically, most students find the expense of school to be daunting. At the same time, many for-profit colleges are finding the way to stay open is to accept veterans – and their benefits.

Since 2009, $8.2 billion has been collected by for-profit colleges. As many as 30% of U.S. veterans have enrolled in college with the GI Bill.

The guarantee of funds from veteran students is appealing to these colleges, but for-profit schools have been accused of aggressively targeting veterans to enroll. Many of the schools have been hiring veterans as recruiters, hoping to appeal to the potential students’ sense of camaraderie.

For-profit schools are required by a federal student aid regulation, known as the 90/10 rule, to assure that at least 10 percent of their revenue is derived from non-federal sources. With tuitions rising, and the majority of students who are able to afford these costs being comprised primarily of veterans, this ratio is harder and harder to meet. Some schools, such as Corinthian College, have not able to maintain that ratio and have been forced to close their doors.

While students are acquiring the training they seek to pursue careers, veterans are advised to review the options presented by for-profit schools, such as whether their credits will matriculate to other institutions if they need to transfer. Veterans may find for-profit schools offer good trade skills, but may realize that some of them are up to four times the cost of an in-state, public school.

Veterans may want to keep these points in mind in case the school does have a risk of closing, for they will want to be in the position of continuing their education, keeping adequate resources, while still focusing on their career goals.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

U of Phoenix Under Investigation: Military Connection

Military Connection: University of Phoenix

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs are addressing widespread concern about the quality of education at for-profit colleges and unaccredited institutions. These schools have siphoned off billions of dollars in taxpayer-supported benefits for veterans and military personnel.

The University of Phoenix, the country’s largest benefactor of GI Bill funds, is under federal investigation for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, its parent company, Apollo Education Group, announced last month.

The investigation seeks to determine if “certain unnamed persons, partnerships, corporations, or others have engaged or are engaging in deceptive or unfair acts or practices in or affecting commerce in the advertising, marketing, or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or educational accreditation products or services.”

There are allegations that the University of Phoenix has paid the military for exclusive access to bases, held recruitment events disguised as résumé workshops, and included military insignias without the required permission on custom-engraved “challenge coins” handed out by recruiters.

Apollo group is the latest in a string of for-profit colleges being investigated by federal authorities for alleged impropriety. On May 12, the SEC announced fraud charges against ITT Tech and two of its top executives for allegedly lying to investors in an alleged scheme to cover up losses from student loans. Last April, the Department of Education levied $30 million in fines against Corinthian Colleges for inflating job placement numbers at its subsidiary colleges after an investigation for allegations of fraud. Corinthian shut down all 28 of its locations including Heald College, Everest College and WyoTech, leaving hundreds of veterans in the lurch after the parent company declared bankruptcy.

Since 2009, the school has reaped more than $1.2 billion in GI Bill money. Last year alone, it received $345 million to educate Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, along with $20 million in tuition assistance from the Pentagon.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

U of Phoenix Under Investigation: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: California School Suspended from GI Bill

ITT-Tech

By Debbie Gregory.

All fifteen campuses of one popular vocational school in California have been suspended from enrolling new Veteran students.

The California State Approving Agency for Veteran Education (CSAAVE) has suspended ITT Educational Services, including its ITT Technical Institute. CSAAVE falls under the authority of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), which answers to the federal department, the Veterans Affairs (VA).

One of the most generous and commonly used Veteran benefits is the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The benefit is administered by the VA, and can be used at colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools that have been approved by the VA and its approving agencies in each state.

Under the suspension, CSAAVE will no longer approve new benefits claims for Veteran and dependent students who apply to use their benefit at ITT Educational Services programs in California. The reason for the suspension is that the school was reported to have failed to provide required financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“CalVet takes very seriously our duty to ensure our California Veterans receive the education and training they are paying for with their earned GI Bill benefits,” said CalVet Deputy Secretary of Veteran Services, Keith Boylan. “CSAAVE suspended ITT because ITT does not meet the required accreditation standards for approval.”

According to CalVet, ITT Educational Services’ failure to provide the SEC with audited financial statements was sufficient reason to support the suspension of fund eligibility.

ITT Educational Services has until July 13th to produce the required financial documents. If it fails to do so, CalVet has the authority to withdraw the company’s VA provider status in California. At that point, all students currently enrolled at the campuses would no longer be able to use GI Bill benefits to pay for their education at ITT schools in the state.

There are approximately 1,400 students enrolled in programs with ITT Educational Services through utilization of VA education benefits. If the school can produce the documents by the July deadline, the suspension should not interfere with the continued education of these Veterans and dependents, as long as they do not stop their program for a semester or more and try to restart at a later time. If the school fails to do so, these Veteran and dependent GI Bill students will have to find other schools to finish their degrees or certificate programs. Unfortunately for these Veterans, while vocational/tech schools often lead directly to employment in specific fields, they are also notorious for not providing transferable credits for students to use at other institutions.

For the sake of the 1,400 Veteran students enrolled at ITT Educational Services, let us hope that the school can resolve its issues with the SEC and CalVet, and better serve their GI Bill students in the future.

Veterans currently enrolled at ITT Educational Services institutions who have questions about the future of their benefits can contact the VA at 1 (800) 827-1000, or send their questions online using the VA’s Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS).

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: California School Suspended from GI Bill: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Model for Rating Veteran-Friendly Schools

Vet friendly schoolsBy Joe Silva

Since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009, more than one million individuals, including Veterans and dependents with transferred GI Bill benefits, have enrolled at institutions of higher education. And approximately 250,000 service members continue to separate from the military each year, the majority of whom will use their GI Bill to attend college. In response to all of these Veterans attending school through use of GI Bill benefits, many institutions have been vying for their federally paid tuition money, and the extra grant funding offered to schools that serve Veterans. Even with the best intentions in mind, some institutions have lost sight of the need to serve each Veteran student individually. It has become hard to tell which schools are actually out to help Veterans, and which are out solely to help themselves.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has come up with a possible solution for their state that could set the standard for the entire country. The MVAA has devised a rating system for colleges and universities that provides Veterans with a means to determine their prospective school’s track record for serving Veteran students.

The MVAA looks at criteria such as:

  • On-campus Veteran’s coordinator and/or staffed Veterans center
  • Active student-operated Veteran club/association
  • Established process for the identification of current student Veterans
  • Evaluation and awarding of credit for military training and experience
  • Veteran-specific website/portal
  • Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran academic retention, completion and graduation rates
  • Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran job placement rates

If a school has at least three of the above, the MVAA gives them a Bronze rating. If the school has four, they receive a Silver rating. If they are found to provide six or more of the above, schools are given a Gold rating. The ratings are announced by MVAA and placed on their website for Veterans to consider when they are researching schools to use their GI Bill.

While this rating system is currently only used in Michigan, it could be something to consider doing nationally, ideally by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which administers Veteran education benefits. When using the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool, Veterans have access to information such as how many GI Bill students attend a particular school, if that school has a Veterans club/group, and if they are a Yellow Ribbon School. Also available is information such as whether the school is in compliance with the president’s “Principles of Excellence,” do they abide by the “8 Keys to Veterans Success,” and if the school has had any complaints made to the VA by way of Veteran student feedback. Furthermore, Veterans can see how the school is accredited, and view the amount of fees paid through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. All the VA would have to do to implement a program similar to the one that the MVAA has in place would be to calculate the data that it is already collecting.

Veteran students will still have a choice of where they want to attend, but knowing if their prospective school is or isn’t doing all that they can to serve their Veteran students could assist with the decision making process.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Model for Rating Veteran-Friendly Schools: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: College Admission Counseling for Veterans

veteranstudent

By Joe Silva

Millions of Veterans have enrolled in college through the use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill or other Veteran education benefits. Veteran education benefits provide those who served their country with the means to pay for their higher education, including vocational certificates or degree programs. While these benefits are a great way to say thank you, they do not necessarily provide Veterans with the knowledge needed to ensure that they get the education that they have earned. Many Veterans could benefit from mentorship and counseling on how to use their benefit to select the right school for them.

Unfortunately, students can’t always rely on the advisors and counselors at prospective schools. Due to the rapid influx of Veteran students onto college and university campuses, several practices have been initiated by institutions of higher learning designed to help the school more than the Veteran. Additionally, many schools and  staff members who actually do have Veterans’ best interests in mind, aren’t always knowledgeable about Veteran education benefits and how they work.

It is for this reason that MilitaryConnection.com would like to let every Veteran student know about Service to School.

Service to School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was created to provide free college application counseling to Veterans, with the goal of maximizing their education benefit. The organization was founded by three combat Veterans, Gus Giacoman, Tim Hsia, Khalil Tawil while they were enrolled in elite graduate programs. The three joined forces with Anna Ivey, the former Dean of Admissions from the University of Chicago Law School. The group began a dialogue on how Veterans have a very different struggle when it comes to admissions policies, and how there aren’t enough resources for Veteran students.

Service to School connects Veteran college applicants with “Ambassadors,” who are volunteers and very often Veterans and/or higher education staff. The ambassadors are proficient with both Veterans education benefits and higher education admissions. Service to School Ambassadors are available to coach Veterans as to how to gain admission into the very best undergraduate or graduate programs at the finest schools in the country.  The organization provides Veterans with mentorship, application assistance, résumé assistance, application essay assistance, interview preparation and network assistance.

Easing the process will make the road to higher education easier to navigate, therefore presenting a better chance of arriving at the final destination…the coveted graduation, with degree in hand.

For more information about Service to School visit www.Service2School.org.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: College Admission Counseling for Veterans: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: School Boon or Taxpayer Gouge?

helicopter

By Debbie Gregory.

Previously, the Post-9/11 GI Bill had blocked flight training businesses from direct funding because Congress did not want to pay for schools not offering educational degrees. Helicopter schools were struggling financially. But after finding a loophole in the law that allows them to train military veterans completely at government expense, helicopter schools began rapidly expanding. They now collect tens of millions a year in taxpayer dollars.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the flight schools are allowed to partner with public colleges and universities, many of them community colleges, to offer degrees in aviation. The flight schools work as contractors for the institutions, which keep some portion of the tuition for themselves and pass along the rest to the flight school. The loophole, some critics say, is that there is no cap on what the flight schools can charge for pilot training.

The schools have come under fire from critics who say they are gouging U.S. taxpayers. For two years of training to become a pilot, the government often pays more than $250,000, over twice the amount non-veterans pay at many schools!

With such rich benefits up for grabs, the schools began competing with one another to attract Veterans. Offering costly training on sophisticated helicopters was a powerful recruiting tool.

The colleges oversee the flight programs. They bill the government, collect the money, keep some for tuition and pass the rest to the flight companies.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which administers the GI Bill, were unable to provide the total number of helicopter students across the country or their cost. But as long as the money flows through a public institution, there is no limit on what the VA will pay for flight training.

The main leverage the government has to control program costs is a regulation requiring that non-veterans make up at least 15% of students in VA-funded programs. The intent is to prevent colleges from charging the VA more than non-veterans are willing to pay.

Given their high price, the flight programs have struggled to attract enough non-veterans to satisfy the so-called 85-15 rule.

Sean Heiner, flight program director at Southern Utah University, said the price was “not outrageous” when compared with military spending on pilot training. While there has been substantial growth for some of these companies, it may be short lived. Nearly 7,000 helicopter pilots have left the Army and Navy since 2007, and companies in the private sector in need of pilots may look to those with more hours.

Which begs the question…will there be jobs for these fresh pilots when they graduate?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: School Boon or Taxpayer Gouge?: By Debbie Gregory