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Military Connection: Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits

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By Debbie Gregory.

When it comes to paying for education for military without the Post 9/11 GI Bill, footing the bill for college isn’t easy. Those who qualify can transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse or children. There are, however, a few things you need to know to successfully transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit.

The transfer rule was designed so career military members, who might already have the education they need, can pass them on to one or more family members. But not everyone who has the Post 9/11 GI Bill is qualified to transfer those benefits. You must have at least six years of service by the day you elect to transfer, with an agreement to obligate another four years. Additionally, you must have a minimum of ten years of active duty and selected reserve time, separately or combined. You aren’t allowed by service policies, such as high-year tenure, to obligate for another four years, but agree to serve the maximum remaining time allowed. Even if you are retirement eligible, you must obligate the additional four years or the max remaining time.

If you are married and/or have multiple children, you are allowed to split the benefit and give a portion to any combination of spouse and children. With that said, the family member must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, known as DEERS, and be fully eligible for military dependent benefits at the time of the GI Bill transfer.

You can transfer or modify how much of the benefit you give, or even revoke the transfer. This covers an ex-spouse if you get divorced, or married children, with the caveat that each dependent must have at least one month of benefits at the time you set up the transfer. You can always shift the benefit around later, even after you are discharged. But once you leave the service, you can’t qualify anyone new.

Your spouse is able to use the benefit immediately upon your transfer, once you separate, or when you retire, but within 15 years. If you have designated your child, he or she can only start using the benefits once you have put in at least 10-years of service.

Your dependent child must have their high-school diploma, or be 18 years old. While there’s no 15-year deadline, they must use it before they reach the age of 26.

You can only apply to transfer benefits while on active duty, so if you are considering this, start as soon as you are eligible. You’ll probably need to get some help with this process, so tap in on the resources available from your command career counselor or your personnel support detachment.

Because there’s obligated service required, that obligation must be made and documented in your record before you can finalize your benefit. You should apply for the transfer within 30 days of re-enlistment or extension. Sailors can work with the Navy Personnel Command’s G.I. Bill office to hold their transfer request until their obligated service can be verified in their electronic records.

Remember to check your application status. Check the milConnect web page routinely until the ‘Submitted’ status changes to either “Request approved” or “Request rejected.” If the request has been rejected, take corrective steps and resubmit the request.

The transfer is not complete until the status has changed to approved. Don’t let a small detail cause the application to be disapproved.

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: Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Legislation Expands Programs for Veteran-Students

Veteran Students

By Joe Silva

On February 26, 2015, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would reauthorize and improve a grant program designed to assist colleges and universities in establishing, maintaining, improving, and operating Veteran Student Centers.

The Senate bill is titled The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 S.604 and was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester from Montana.

According to the text in S.604, Congress found that over 1 million Veterans attended college in 2014. Veteran-students face unique challenges that many traditional and even other non-traditional students don’t, including age differences, significant time away from academic life, obligations to their families, and even service-connected disabilities.

Congressionally sponsored studies reported that many Veterans struggle in the classroom and often feel isolated and under served on campus. This leads many Veterans to drop out of college before they complete their desired degree or certification program.

Veterans of the Post-9/11 era have the highest unemployment rate among Veterans. Dropping out of college does not help to improve this statistic.

Studies have shown that among the most beneficial resources for Veteran-students are each other. Veterans on campus provide each other with comradery, a sense of belonging, and serve as mentors to each other. Congressional studies and studies carried out by student groups and educators concur; providing a centralized location on campus for Veteran-students for information, resources, and a hub to connect to other Veterans has proven to increase their academic success.

The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 would empower the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to award no more than thirty grants to institutions of higher learning that have a significant population of Veteran-students, and students who are current members of the active-duty military, National Guard or Reserves. The grants would be awarded for periods of four years and will not exceed $500,000 each.

The use of grant funding is to be used to establish, maintain, improve, and operate a Veteran Student Center. Grant recipients can also use portions of the funds to carry out supportive services for Veterans on their campus, such as assistance with admissions and transfer credits.

At the time it was introduced, S.604 was read twice and then referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

As a Veteran-student, I can see the benefits in approving the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015. Most of the rules and policies for admissions and tuition payments are unique for Veterans, and not every staff member on every campus knows this. Veteran-students need a place on campus to go to get all of their questions answered by a staff member who knows how their individual school processes benefits.

On behalf of those who served, who are now or will someday be enrolled in college, please contact your senator and tell them to back S.604, the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 for their constituency.

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: Legislation Expands Programs for Veteran-Students: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: GI Bill Spared from Cuts: By Debbie Gregory

BAH 2015

Housing allowances for Veteran students using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits have been spared from the cuts made by the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA, which is essentially the defense budget, was approved this week by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. One of the most unfortunate provisions in the bill is the one percent decrease to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for all active service members that will go into effect next year. The one percent decrease will cost service members and military families a few hundred dollars over the course of the year, but will save the DOD millions.

Earlier drafts of the NDAA originally called for a five percent reduction to BAH over three years. But the final bill as it stands was changed to only one percent due to pressure from Veteran advocacy groups on behalf of active duty service members. Many believe that lawmakers will end up getting their five percent BAH decrease by dropping BAH by one percent each year.

The housing allowance decrease was also supposed to affect Veterans enrolled in college with their Post-9/11 GI Bill. Veteran students, along with paid tuition and a book stipend, receive a monthly allowance for housing (MAH) that is currently the equivalent to the E-5 with dependents BAH rate.

A provision was inserted into the NDAA by the House Veterans Affairs Committee which exempts the Veterans from the one percent reduction in housing allowance that active-duty service members are in line to receive next year.

It is extremely unfortunate that lawmakers deemed it necessary to save money at the expense of service members. It is always important to keep track of what your elected officials are doing in Washington. If their actions are not in line with your wishes, be sure to contact them and let them know. Also, remember their actions when they are up for re-election.

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: GI Bill Spared from Cuts: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: GI Bill is NOT for Schools: By Debbie Gregory

GI Bill for VetsThe Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most current and most generous continuation of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, originally enacted by the government in 1944. Since its 2009 inception, more than 1 million Veterans have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend colleges, universities and trade schools. However, there has been growing concern that Veterans are not getting the education they deserve from the benefit they have earned.

But this time, it’s not the American public questioning the federal government about an insufficient offering. This time, it’s the federal government questioning the schools that are receiving the funds from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The government wants to make sure that the schools are providing sufficient services to Veterans.

A July 30, 2014 report from the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on the GI Bill and for-profit schools shows just how seriously Washington is looking at Veteran education benefits. The main area of concern is the predatory behavior of some for-profit institutions, the lack of worth of some schools’ degree programs, and the increasing enrollment rates of GI Bill students that some of these schools are still managing to receive.

The study found that in the 2012-2013 academic year, eight of the top ten recipient schools were large, publicly traded companies that operate for-profit schools. These eight companies received a total of $2.9 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition money since the program began, including $975 million in 2012-2013, which accounted for 23% of the total GI Bill tuition money spent that year. Since 2009, the Veteran enrollment rate at private for-profit institutions has jumped from 23% to 31%, while Veteran enrollment at public and other not-for-profit schools has dropped from 62% to 50% over the same period.

There are many for-profit schools that go to great lengths to provide Veterans with a quality education. But there are plenty of GI Bill students who can’t finish their degree program within the time allotted by the GI Bill, despite being told by their admissions officer that their military experience would count as credit, allowing them to finish in time. There are also horror stories about the Veterans who have used their GI Bill to complete degree programs, only to find that employers and graduate schools won’t recognize a degree from that school, resulting in a worthless degree that was a waste of time, energy and GI Bill benefits.

Congressional legislators are hoping to eliminate situations like these. Again, not all for-profit schools are bad. But proactive measures are being put into place to ensure that the GI Bill benefits earned through military service are being put to use to benefit the Veteran, not the school.

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: GI Bill is NOT for Schools: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Key to Civilian Employment: By Debbie Gregory

Key to employmentVeterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher unemployment rate than the civilian population. You would think that the extensive military training and combat experience would help Veterans land jobs after they transition out of the military, but that just hasn’t been the case. Why is that?

Data from the 2012 American Community Survey points out one glaring statistic: Veterans are less educated than their peers. According to the survey, only 30% of Veterans aged 25-30 had completed an Associate’s Degree or higher, compared to 44% of non-Veterans of the same age group. The same survey found that a mere 5.7% of Veterans aged 25-30 had earned a bachelor’s degree in the higher paying fields such as science, technology, engineering or mathematics, compared to 10.4% of their non-Veteran peers.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill was designed to reverse this trend and fill the gap in education for Veterans, in order to help them compete for jobs. The 2012 survey might not yet reflect the impact of the new GI Bill that started began in 2009, as the initial Post-9/11 GI Bill students hadn’t yet graduated.

But the study found other data that is troubling and may not have been remedied by the upgraded education benefits. The problem is not that Veterans have not enrolled in college after the military; the problem could be that they aren’t graduating. According to the survey, 74% of Veterans had attended at least some college, compared to 68% of their non-veteran peers aged 25 to 30.

Veterans that want to see the unemployment rate diminish and find high-paying, meaningful employment need to stay in school and see their programs through to completion. The difference between having some college credits and having a degree will often times be the deciding factor in getting an interview and getting hired.

It is for these reasons that Veterans need to take their education seriously. Make a plan for your Post-9/11 GI Bill, and see it through to completion. It doesn’t matter if it’s an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a vocational certificate program; completing a course of study that prepares you for your next career is vital to your future employment.

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: Key to Civilian Employment: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Winning the GI Bill Invasion: By Joe Silva

Veteran student invasionColleges and universities: be on the lookout…more than a million Veterans are flooding campuses nationwide. And even more Veterans are on the way. How can you prepare?

According to the Student Veterans of America (SVA), more than 1.2 million Veterans have gone back to school using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The SVA also claims that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued $43.1 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to Veterans. Those numbers are set to continue to climb as more Iraq and Afghanistan-era service members separate from the military at a rate of around 250,000 each year.

I, myself, am a college graduate by way of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and can speak firsthand of the increasing presence of Veterans on campuses  throughout the U.S.  This should drive home the point that schools wanting the VA’s tuition money need to step up their efforts to accommodate the needs of military Veterans.

Most colleges have made major progress in providing for Veteran students since 2008. Now, almost three-quarters of them have at least one member of their staff specifically dedicated to assisting Veterans. But there is always more that can be done to provide for military Veteran students.

Many schools have created a common gathering space for their Veteran students. Veteran Resource Centers, Veterans Affairs offices, lounges and study areas are becoming more and more common. Make sure that your school’s space is known to your Veterans, while still encouraging them to mingle with the rest of the student population. Interacting with other students contributes to a well-rounded education through the exchange of knowledge.

Along the same line, many schools with large Veteran populations have introduced events, forums and even courses that focus on inclusion,  and allow these students to field questions about the military from their classmates. Many Veterans won’t openly share with strangers what they have experienced, but if asked, they are happy to answer.

One final thing that schools can do for Veteran students is hire Veterans. With more than one million Veterans who have returned to college, there is a growing number of Veterans with degrees. The nation’s academic institutions can assist all students, especially Veteran students, by tapping in to this talent pool. From staffing administration offices and Veteran Resource offices, to tutoring centers and even classroom instructors, hiring qualified Veterans should be a top priority.

By showing Veterans that your school is dedicated to helping them succeed in their mission to earn a college degree, administrators can guarantee the continued enrollment of GI Bill students.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp, 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: Winning the GI Bill Invasion: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Afraid of Veterans Double-dipping: By Joe Silva

double dipThe Post-9/11 GI Bill is truly the most comprehensive education benefit that Veterans of the United States military have ever received. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always provide the best deal that Veterans are going to get on education.

Several states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all have programs with varying eligibility for full and partial tuitions paid for military Veterans.

Veterans who reside in and wish to attend college in these states have had to choose between their state-offered benefit and the federally-funded Post-9/11 GI Bill. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), which oversees federal Veteran education benefits, has been operating under the policy that Veterans from these states need to spend all of their state benefits before being approved for federal benefits.

Veteran students from these states have also been allowed to sign a waiver that allows them to forego their rights to state benefits, in order to receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The advantage is that the Post-9/11 GI Bill not only pays tuition, but also offers a monthly allowance for housing, and a stipend of up to $1,000 per year for books and school supplies.

Apparently, the fear is that Veterans, many of whom served multiple deployments to combat zones and international hot-spots, might double-dip the system.

Several law makers are becoming privy to this unnecessary restriction and what it means for Veterans.

“It was not the intent of Congress to require Veteran students in a state like Illinois, which provides 100 percent tuition and fee coverage for eligible veterans, spouses, and children, to choose between their state benefits and the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits,” wrote Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, in a letter to the VA. “The requested waiver would marry the Post-9/11 GI Bill with Illinois’ state benefit programs.”

In his letter, Durbin asked the VA to grant Illinois and other states waivers, so that all the benefits can be used to help Veterans achieve a higher education.

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: Afraid of Veterans Double-dipping: By Joe Silva

VA Announces Positive Changes for GI Bill

According to a recent story in Army Times, The Veterans Affairs Department has announced that it plans to implement an automatic system to better facilitate the processing of GI Bill benefits claims. Since the bill was enacted in 2008 and the VA began dispersing benefits, it has stumbled upon several obstacles, including delayed processing times. According to VA education service director, Keith Wilson, processing times of Post-9/11 GI Bill claims takes so long (averaging 82 minutes) because applications “require manual processing using four separate IT systems that do not interface with each other.”

The implementation of an automatic processing system would minimize the amount of human hands that handle each claim. The electronic system would process claims in 15 to 20 minutes and produce even more accurate results than previously recorded. The new system is set to be installed in a series of phases to easily transition the procedure.

Subsequent phases will be integrated into the system in the following months of September and December and will culminate in a nearly-fully electronic processing system.

For more information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including eligibility, requirements and processing procedures, visit MilitaryConnection’s GI Bill information page.

Questions? Concerns? I want to know! Email me at [email protected] and tell me what’s on your mind!

Thanks for reading!

Katy Cryns