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New Forever GI Bill Unveiled

Colmery

By Debbie Gregory.

It looks like big changes may be on the horizon for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The “forever” GI Bill, officially titled the “Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017″ looks to be a broad, permanent bill of rights for student veterans and their families. And it has a pretty good chance of passing through Congress.

Named for Harry W. Colmery, the past American Legion national commander who hand-wrote the original GI Bill in 1944, the proposal contains reforms to benefit Purple Heart recipients, reservists, veterans’ surviving dependents, and victims of for-profit school closures.

If the bill, introduced on July 13th  by House Veteran Affairs Committee Chairman and Republican Rep. Phil Roe, is passed by Congress, it will affect veterans who become GI Bill-eligible after January 1, 2018.

Major changes would include:

  • The elimination of the 15-year “use it or lose it” time limit on veteran education benefits
  • A permanent change to the program’s name- just “GI Bill”
  • The guarantee of full veteran benefits for ALL Purple Heart recipients
  • Help for victims of predatory for-profit schools
  • Assistance for survivors and dependents by extending Yellow Ribbon eligibility to those survivors
  • Changing housing allowances for student veterans to the same BAH as similarly situated active-duty service members

The Student Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Got Your Six, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors assisted in putting the bill together and readying it for approval.

“This beefed-up Post-9/11 GI Bill recognizes the long service and sacrifice of the one percent of Americans who have voluntarily put their personal lives on hold to fight an unimaginable multi-front war for 16-plus years,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy.

What do you think?

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.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Overpayment Issues

GI BILL

By Debbie Gregory.

When separating from the military, service members have a number of options. For many, the best option is cashing in on their veteran education benefits via the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Unfortunately, for a number of veterans, failure to place safeguards in place can result in indebtedness to the Veteran Administration (VA).

There are several situations in which you may find yourself owing the VA for Post 9/11 GI Bill overpayments. In order to avoid these pitfalls, here are a number of important points to be aware of:

  • Dropping a Class – If you drop a class of leave school, it decreases your training time. If the VA has already processed a payment for tuition and fees, an overpayment will occur and a debt is created against your account.
  • Change of EnrollmentMake note of your school’s drop/add deadline for classes. This change of enrollment can impact the amount of money paid to the school. If you drop a class, you will have to pay back any Post 9/11 GI Bill money you received for that class including tuition and fees, your monthly housing allowance, your book stipend, and any kicker or college fund money. This might be based on needing to attend a minimum of hours too.
  • Proper Record Keeping – The Veterans Administration states that you are responsible for keeping track of your tuition and fee account balance and payments. Checking in regularly with your school’s finance department is a good way to make sure that the charges are correct and that payments and refunds are processed correctly.

If you end up owing money back to the VA for your Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. First and foremost, determine who pays the money back, you or your school.

The VA will collect from the school if you never attended any classes for which you were certified, regardless of the reason for non-attendance, or you completely withdrew on or before the first day of the term.

The VA will collect from you if you totally withdraw after the first day of the term, or you dropped classes resulting in a reduced training time.

If you have mitigating circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from continuing in your veteran school education or that cause you to reduce credits, the VA may forgive the debt.

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • An illness or injury affecting the student during the enrollment period;
  • An illness or death in the student’s immediate family
  • Financial obligations that demand the student obtains immediate employment
  • Unanticipated active military service, including active duty for training.

Mitigating circumstances will provide the VA a one-time only opportunity to forgive up to six (6) credits the first time you drop a class or classes outside of the drop/add period.

If you receive a debt notification from the VA, address the situation immediately by contacting the Debt Management Center at 800-827-0648 or e-mail them at [email protected]

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.

Veteran Education Benefits Lost as For-profits Schools Close

gibilllllll

By Debbie Gregory.

More than $1 billion in Post 9/11 GI Bill veteran education benefits were lost by veterans when for-profit Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes closed their doors.

Since fiscal year 2013, veteran education benefits were being used by some 9,000 veterans pursuing their education at a school that has since shut down, according to a report released by the staff of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Carper and other members of Congress are urging for changes in the law so that veterans affected by the closure of a college can restore the GI eligibility they used up at a school that closed.

“It is unfathomable to me that these brave men and women, who volunteered to serve their country in a time of war, are now being left in the lurch by some of the largest recipients of Post-9/11 GI Bill taxpayer dollars,” said Carper, a 23-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves. “This is shameful.”

Enacted in 2009, the post-9/11 GI Bill has provided more than $65 billion for tuition, books and housing to 1.6 million veterans and their families. Recipients can only use the benefits for 36 months of vocational or college education. If a veteran used GI Bill benefits to cover tuition at ITT Tech for two years, she would not have enough benefits left to finish up a bachelor’s degree.

For-profit colleges can only receive 90% of their funding from federal student aid programs to stay in compliance with regulations, but GI Bill benefits don’t count toward that 90%.

For-profit colleges aggressively recruit veterans because their benefits served as a stable source of revenue.

“The VA and Congress need to do more on the front end to hold bad actors accountable and ensure that we’re not continuing to send our veterans to schools delivering poor outcomes and destined for financial collapse,” Carper said.

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.

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