On August 16th, 2017 President Trump signed the “Forever GI Bill” into law.
In a previous post, we discussed the new expansion of the Post 9-11 GI Bill. On August 16th, 2017 Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 became law. Named after the original framer of the GI Bill of Rights in 1944, the new law expands on the current Post 9-11 GI Bill benefit and provides additional protection to veterans.
Below are the five main points of the new law veterans should know and understand.
- Your Benefits are Life-Time!
There is a caveat.! The veteran must have been separated on or after 1 January 2013. If a veteran meets this criterion, the 15-year use or lose time frame has been eliminated. This means veterans, separated on or after 1 January 2013 now can use their available benefits throughout their lives. This change provides veterans with the opportunity to retain and use their benefits later in their careers to gain additional training and education required for advancement and wage increases.
- STEM Programs Emphasised.
Many veterans and veteran groups had voiced concerns they had to choose degree programs other than STEM programs and schools because many of these programs take longer than four years to complete. Due to this, educational benefits run out before the veteran can complete their program of study. The expanded benefit places emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) programs by providing additional financial incentives. Under the expansion, Veterans seeking in pursuing STEM fields will be eligible to receive either nine additional months of educational benefits or up to $30,000 (maximum amount) in a lump sum payment. Though many of the provisions of the bill go into effect next year, this provision will not be available until August 2019.
- Your Benefits are Protected!
In the past, if something negative happened to the school or institution you were attending; for example, they lost their accreditation. You lost too! In the past, any benefits veterans used at institutions that closed had no recourse and the benefits they used up to that point were gone forever. Now, your benefits can be reinstated. If you are a veteran that attended any postsecondary institution, for-profit or not-for-profit, that closed after January 2015, your benefits can be restored. The Congressional Budget Office has earmarked $50 million to restoring veterans benefits next year.
- Purple Heart Medal Recipients Now Eligible for Benefits.
ALL, yes ALL Purple Heart Medal recipients since 11 September 2001 regardless of status (Reservist, National Guard, or Active Duty), are entitled to full educational benefits even if they did not serve for three years. According to many veteran advocacy groups, this part of the expansion will immediately affect 1,500 Purple Heart recipients.
- Transferability of Benefits Enhanced.
Under the new expansion, veterans will be able to transfer the remainder of their entitlement to another spouse or dependent in cases when the original recipient has passed away. It also provides for dependents to transfer remaining benefits to another dependent after the death of the veteran.
According to Charles E. Schmidt, the National Leader of the American Legion, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 marks a new era for today’s veterans and will transform America as did the original GI Bill following WWII.
A complete summary of the changes included in the new “Forever GI Bill” can be found by clicking here.