Forever GI Bill

Learn about the new ‘Forever’ GI Bill changes that President Trump has signed into law and goes into effect beginning next year. The ‘Forever’ GI Bill® will allow military veterans to pursue educational opportunities for life, although how it will affect you personally depends on when you were discharged.

Note: These changes are pending final approval by the President, which is expected to happen.

GI Bill Changes

Eliminated the 15-year Expiration Date for Educational Benefits

The Forever GI Bill , hence its nickname, removes benefit expiration dates also known as the use-it-or-lose-it rule. Previously, veterans had 15 years after they were discharged to the use the money. Unfortunately this will not apply to all veterans as the cost to do so was too costly. Veterans whose last discharge or release from active duty is on or after January 1, 2013, will not expire. Those that were discharged or released before January 1, 2013 will still expire.

Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Restores Benefits if a College Shuts Down or Loses Accreditation

Previously veterans using the GI Bill had no recourse should they not get credit for the classes they took. Now, any school that has been shut down or loses accreditation after January 1, 2015 will have their GI Bill benefits restored.

Effective Date: January 1, 2015

Expanded GI Bill Benefits for Purple Heart Recipients

Any servicemember who receives a Purple Heart, regardless of how long they have served, will be eligible for full GI Bill benefits. Previously, Purple Heart recipients had to serve for at least 3 years.

Yellow Ribbon for Fry Scholarship & Purple Heart Recipients

Fry Scholarship recipients and Purple Heart recipients are eligible for the  Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018

Yellow Ribbon for Armed Forces Serving on Active Duty

Certain members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty are eligible in Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program.

Effective Date: August 1, 2022

Licensure & Certification Tests

Certain licensure and certification tests such as a national (GMAT, GRE, CLEP) or a test required for state licensing will be pro-rated to the amount fo the actual cost of the test. Previously a veteran was charged a whole month of entitlement pay for these tests.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Reduced

In order to offset the cost of the Forever GI Bill benefits the GI Bill living stipend will be reduced to what’s received by an active-duty servicemember at the E-5 with dependents rate.  In 2015 the annual percentage increase to active duty BAH payments began to be reduced by 1 percent a year for five years, but GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance Rates (aka BAH) were exempt. The decrease would not apply to students now using the GI Bill.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018; applies to new GI Bill enrollees only

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Reflects Actual Housing Location

The Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) aka BAH will now calculate payments based on where the student attends the majority of their classes. Previously, payment was calculated on where the school was located. This is a big change for online students receiving lower BAH payments because their school was located in an area with a lower BAH.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018; applies to new GI Bill enrollees only

Increased Eligibility for National Guard and Reserve Members

Expands access to a wider group of National Guard and Reserve members who will now be eligible for expanded education benefits. Additionally, Guard and Reserve members placed on medical hold status now will see that time count toward their eligibility, retroactive to September, 11, 2001.

Effective Date: August 1, 2020; retroactive to National Guard or Reservists who’s service commenced on or after September, 11, 2001

Consolidation of Certain Eligibility Tiers for National Guard and Reserve Members

Individuals who serve at least 90 days but less than 6 months on active duty receive increases from 40% to 50% benefit payable. Individuals who serve at least 6 months but less than 12 months receive increases from 50% to 60% benefit payable, resulting in up to $2,300 more a year in tuition.

Effective Date: August 1, 2020; retroactive to National Guard or Reservists who’s service commenced on or after September, 11, 2001

Photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider

Transfer of Unused Post-9/11 Education Assistance Benefits

Veterans are allowed to transfer remaining GI Bill entitlements if the designated dependent dies. A dependent may also transfer the remaining benefits to another dependent after the death of a servicemember or veteran.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018. Applies to deaths on or after August 1, 2009.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)

The number of months of entitlement will be changed from 45 months to 36 months which will now be consistent with other GI Bill programs that provide 36 months of eligibility educational assistance.

Effective Date: August 1, 2018

Increased DEA Payments

The monthly payment for educational assistance under the DEA program will be increased by $200 a month.

Effective Date: October 1, 2018

Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship

Benefits will be extended by nine months or a lump sum of $30,000 for veterans enrolled in specific STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) five-year degree programs. Veterans will have to apply for a separate STEM scholarship in order to receive this benefit and the aggregate benefit will be capped at $100 million a year.

Effective Date: August 1, 2009

VA High Technology Pilot Program

Provides veterans with the opportunity to enroll high-tech programs such as coding boot camps or IT certifications that do not lead to a degree. This is a 5-year pilot program where the VA will contract with the schools or programs and incentivize the institutions with higher tuition and fee payments based on graduating and finding a job in their field of study.

Effective Date: No later than 180 days after August 1, 2018

Priority Enrollment for Veterans

The GI Bill Comparison Tool will include information as to whether a school administers a priority enrollment system that allows veterans to enroll earlier than other students. This provision applies to students pursuing institutions of higher learning.

Effective Date: Immediately

Work-Study Program Extension

Full-time or 3/4-time students in a college degree, vocational, or professional program, can “earn while you learn” with a VA work-study allowance. This benefit was set to expire but the sunset date has now been repealed.

Effective Date: Immediately

Independent Study Programs

Eligible individuals can use GI Bill benefits to pursue independent study programs at certain educational institutions that are institutions of  higher learning such as a technical education school or postsecondary vocational school.

Effective Date: Immediately

Funding for GI Bill Claims Processing and Training

The Forever GI bill will provide $30 million dollars to upgrade technology at the Veterans Benefits Administration to complete their rules-based processing system for claim and the department will provide training requirements to school certifying officers that process the paperwork.

Effective Date: 2018 and 2019

Annual Reports to Congress

The Secretary of Veterans’ Affair will be required to submit report from education institutions regarding student performance by March 1 of each year.

Effective Date: Immediately

Reporting Fees Payable to Educational Institutions

The VA will be allowed to increase fees paid to institutions or programs of apprenticeship to $16 per veteran using GI Bill benefits. Additionally, schools with 100 or more enrollees using GI Bill benefits to establish a specific account tracking the fees.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017 is named after the principal architect of the original GI Bill, which was enacted in 1944.