What is the New Forever GI Bill?

The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act was passed in June of 1944 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and would later be known as the GI Bill to the many soldiers returning from World War II who used the bill for low-interested mortgages and stipends for college tuition. Millions of soldiers took advantage of the bill’s benefits over the next several decades, and Congress made periodic changes to the bill as they saw fit. According to History.com, almost nine million veterans took advantage of the unemployment compensation funds available through the program.

In July of 2017, Congress passed an updated version of the bill known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. The bill was named in honor of one of the primary writers of the original bill that was passed in the 1940s. The hope is that the revamped bill will allow a greater number of veterans to qualify for benefits than would have qualified under the old version. Veterans are to visit their local Veteran Service Officers to ask about eligibility.

New Provisions in the Updated Veterans Bill of 2017

As of the signing of the bill, several new provisions were introduced including the elimination of the 15-year time limit for post-9/11 benefits for veterans who left active duty after 1 January 2013, as well as children of veterans and eligible spouses. The new bill’s language also restores the benefits to soldiers who were impacted by schools that were closed and educational institutions whose accreditation was eliminated.

Other provisions in the bill make eligible members of the reserves who lost their benefits under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) due to that program ending. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the matter, somewhere around 2,800 reservists in the military were impacted by the program changes. The VA expects to send letters out to those reservists with instructions to regain their benefits.

The new “Forever GI Bill” will also change the way Congress must reauthorize work study; it will become a permanent feature of the bill where Congress will no longer need to reauthorize it periodically to keep it active. The bill will also expand upon the VetSuccess on Campus program to serve students around the United States, and the VA will create a list of schools with veteran-friendly enrollment procedures.

Eligibility and School Options Under the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act

Active-duty service members, veterans, and members of the National Guard and Reserves may qualify for VA education benefits. Qualifying survivors and dependents may also gain eligibility to help pay for school tuition. The VA will also assist in helping the student choose a school, career, and figure out other facets of attending college, trade school, or technical school. There are several bills related to educational benefits including the Post-9/11 and Montgomery bills. Speaking with the VA is the easiest way to determine qualification status.

Resource: Top 15 Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill

The money granted through the new veterans bill allows applicants to use their benefits at a variety of educational institutions. The school must be accredited to qualify, but it may be a technical school or a vocational school offering postsecondary education. As part of the veterans benefits bill, the VA will maintain a list of qualifying schools, so it’s important for veterans to check with the VA before enrolling or applying to a school and attempting to gain tuition assistance.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is a testament to the efforts of the government to provide service men and women with the tools they need to become productive members of society after serving their country. Veterans who believe they may qualify for benefits under the new Forever GI Bill should make an appointment with the VA to begin the qualification process and the search for a school.