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GI Bill for On-the-job Training

otj training

By Debbie Gregory.

When separating from their military service, there are many newly-minted veterans who aren’t desirous of attending a traditional college or university to cash in on their veteran school benefits.  A better fitting veteran education option for them might be on-the-job (OJT) training or an apprenticeship program.

Both OJT and apprenticeship programs are available for veterans using their VA GI Bill education benefits, one of the most valuable veteran benefit.

These programs give veterans the opportunity to learn a trade or skill through training on the job participation rather than attending formal classroom instruction. The programs generally consist of entering into a training contract for a specific period with an employer or union. At the end of the training period, the veteran has earned job certification or journeyman status.

Usually, employers pay a reduced OJT/apprenticeship wage, which must be at least 50% of journeyman’s wage, with periodic wage increases, unless it’s a government program. By the last full month of training, the wage must be at least 85% of the wage for a fully trained employee.

In addition to the wages paid by the employer, veterans who are participating in an approved program can use their GI Bill benefit and receive a tax-free stipend equivalent to the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) of an E-5 with dependents.  However, the stipend is reduced 20% every six months as the Veteran’s wages regularly increase until the Veteran has attained journeyman status and pay.

If traditional college/university education, OTJ training or an apprenticeship doesn’t fit the bill, one other option is available: beneficiaries can use their educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study programs at career and technical schools that provide postsecondary level education and postsecondary vocational institutions. This change went into effect August 16, 2017.

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.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Forever GI Bill

forever gi bill 2

By Debbie Gregory.

The “Forever GI Bill,” a sweeping expansion of GI Bill education benefits, is on its way to the Oval Office.

Passed by both houses of Congress, the bill will increase veteran’s benefits by more than $3 billion over the next decade.

One important change, reserved for those who become eligible after January 1, 2018, is the removal of the 15-year limit on using their GI Bill benefits, which offers them more flexibility.

Additionally, the Forever GI Bill boosts education assistance for National Guard and Reserve troops, Purple Heart recipients and for the dependents of fallen troops.

Reservists called to active duty under sections 12304(a) and 12304(b) are now eligible. Previously, only reservists called to active duty by presidential order as a result of a national emergency were eligible. This applies to all reservists mobilized after Aug. 1, 2009, but reservists can receive payment only for classes that start after Aug. 1, 2018.

Reservists who were receiving REAP payments may now be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Currently, there are less than 4,000 people eligible for this benefit.

Purple Heart recipients will get the full GI Bill amount, regardless of how long they served on active duty.

For veterans who were caught up in the collapse of for-profit schools Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, the legislation would fully restore their GI Bill education benefits.

Of course, all of this comes with a price tag, and the expansion will be paid for by reducing the increases in housing allowances paid under the GI Bill to new beneficiaries. As of January 1, 2018, the GI Bill housing allowance will decrease an average of $100 a month. Active-duty BAH is also affected, decreasing each year by 1 percent every year from 2015 to 2019,  so that by 2020, BAH will only cover 95 percent of a military member’s housing cost.

The housing allowance for GI Bill students will now be based on the campus location where classes are attended, not necessarily the main campus.

Effective August 1, 2018, Dependent’s Education Assistance (DEA) monthly payments will increase by about 50 percent, but the maximum number of months that a dependent can get DEA decreases from 45 to 36.

Also effective August 1, 2018, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs are eligible for the “Edith Nourse Rogers Scholarship” which will pay veterans up to $30,000 if they have used up all their GI Bill benefits and have at least 60 semester/90 quarter hours credit toward a STEM degree. It also will pay those who already have a STEM degree and are working on a teaching certification.

The High Technology Pilot Program, scheduled to start in the spring of 2019, covers the full cost of high technology training offered by a company versus a school.

MilitaryConnection.com has a comprehensive education area, and we invite you to check out the numerous education resources at https://militaryconnection.com/education.

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.

Number of Veterans Studying Overseas on GI Bill is Rising

edu

By Debbie Gregory.

Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, an increasing number of U.S. military veterans are completing degrees overseas at global universities.

Part of the draw is the cheaper tuition, thanks in part to the favorable exchange rate.

The VA’s list of approved international colleges now includes around 1,800 universities or training schools in more than 100 countries.

According to VA statistics, more than 2000 Post-9/11 GI Bill students pursued degrees overseas in fiscal year 2015.

U.S. veterans interested in pursuing an international education can either use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to review the VA’s approved list of universities. The tool can also show veterans which benefits package is their best option.

If a veteran’s preferred college is not on the approved list, he or she can apply to have the school added, provided it meets the VA’s eligibility requirements.

According to the VA website, one of the main requirements for attending a foreign school under the GI Bill is that the institution of higher learning will result in a college degree or equivalent. If eligible, the VA will issue the veteran a Certificate of Eligibility, which shows the quantity and duration of benefits. Veterans should secure this certificate before enrolling at a foreign university.

The VA says the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to $21,000 in tuition per year at approved foreign colleges, about $1,500 per month for housing and $1,000 annually for books.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has also opened up global education opportunities to eligible veterans’ family members. Active-duty service members must plan to complete 10 years of service to be eligible to transfer some or all of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or children.

If you decide to stay in the U.S. for your education, or you prefer to pursue an online degree, be sure to check out the MilitaryConnection.com directory of universities and colleges here.

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.

Jobs for Military Veterans Remains a Top Priority

veterans resources

By Debbie Gregory.

Jobs for military veterans is one of the main issues facing today’s veterans, with the unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan remaining the highest among all American veterans.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the 2014 unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans, although down nearly 2 percent from the previous year, was at 7.2 percent. This was the highest amongst all veteran groups.

But the news isn’t all bad. The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that veteran school benefits, such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, have impacted the unemployment figures as many veterans have decided to pursue an education instead of a getting a job right away. Additionally, female veterans have a completion rate 5 percent higher than female students in the general population.

So while women veterans have a higher unemployment rate, those who attend school and/or secure an employment opportunity are faring better than their non-veteran counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

When it comes to finding jobs for military veterans, Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.

To date, the initiative has found jobs for more than 27,000 veterans and military spouses. The listing of Veteran Job Fairs on MilitaryConnection.com includes Hiring Our Heroes on-site events that connect veterans directly with employers, as well as many other resources for employment and education including Post 9/11 GI Bill information, the Annual Stipend for books & supplies , a Job Board with thousands of openings, and our Virtual Job Fair.

But finding a job and staying at that job long term can be a challenge for many veterans. In order to avoid attrition, one of the best veteran job tips is to begin planning for a civilian job anywhere from 10 to 12 months before transitioning out of the military.

When looking for veteran jobs, don’t rule out working for the federal government. According to the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, in 2014, the percentage of veteran new hires hit a new high of 33.2 percent, surpassing the previous mark set in FY 2013, when 31 percent of all new Federal civilian hires were veterans.

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.