The Veterans Educational Assistance Program or VEAP is a program many have likely heard of over the years when exploring their VA education benefits.
The program, which has been closed to new enrollments (more on that below) was a military educational assistance program where those who choose to enroll would have matching contributions from the federal government – for every dollar the service member contributed to their VEAP account, two dollars would be added by the government.
This program was offered to those who joined the military between January, 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985. Requirements for VEAP included the following:
- Service members who joined during the qualifying period must have opened a VEAP contribution account no later than April 1, 1987.
- The service member must have contributed between $25 and $2,700.
- The service member must have completed the first enlistment period.
- The service member’s discharge must be other than dishonorable.
What did NOT count toward VEAP eligibility?
There were some times that did not count toward official qualifying military service for VEAP:
- Time a service member may have spent assigned (by the branch of service) full time to a civilian institution to attend the same courses provided to civilians.
- Time served as a cadet or midshipman at a military service academy.
- Time spent on active duty for training in the National Guard or Reserve.
The VEAP program had a minor issue with legalese over the wording on the VEAP enrollment form, DD Form 2057. The form stated that servicemembers were permitted to enroll in VEAP at “any time while on active duty.” However, those who did not initiate a VEAP account before the closing date mentioned above are not eligible for VEAP due to congressional law.
What VEAP Military Education Benefits Paid For
VEAP was established before many online courses, distance education, and similar tools for veterans, active duty members, and military dependents became widely available. However, VEAP benefits could be used at approved programs to earn college degrees, certificates, correspondence courses, and entrance examinations. VEAP funds could also have paid for:
- Technical course work
- Vocational training
- Flight training programs
- On-the-job training
- Licensing and certification tests
- Entrepreneurship training
Eligibility: VEAP Or Post-Vietnam GI Bill
Those who received the Post-Vietnam GI Bill were not eligible for VEAP. There were some exceptions to this rule.
The service member who was only eligible for the Vietnam Era GI Bill due to active duty for training (which lasted at least 181 consecutive days) would be technically eligible for VEAP. However, at least one day must have been before January 1, 1977.
Servicemembers who served on active duty for at least one year after December 31, 1976 would be technically eligible for VEAP.
Those who never received Vietnam Era GI Bill benefits could also be eligible for VEAP benefits, as well as those eligible who did not choose the Post-Vietnam GI Bill and selected VEAP instead.
VEAP required contributions from the service member of between $25 and $100 per month which could be paid by an “allotment” deducted from the military member’s paycheck, or via lump sum payment. There was a contribution limit on the service member of $2700.
For any amount up to the limit, the Department of Defense would contribute on a two-for-one-basis with a cap on the government’s contributions of $5,400.
How Service Members Enrolled In VEAP
The student was required to determine that their college program was VA-approved; if so, the service member was required to submit a completed VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits.
Those trying to use VEAP benefits while still serving on active duty were required to have their enrollment approved by a base Education Services Officer and were also required to certify proof of military service in good standing via a letter or document from the service member’s commander or commander’s representative.
The school was also required to submit paperwork to the Department of Veterans Affairs in the form of VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification
Expiration Of VEAP Benefits
VEAP benefits had a similar expiration period to the Montgomery GI Bill. VEAP paid applicable military college education benefits for 36 months and the military member had 10 years to use those benefits before they expired.
Extension Of Veap Benefits
VEAP benefits are set to expire 10 years from the date of discharge or release from active duty. But that 10-year window could be extended in certain cases. The extension would apply “by the amount of time you were prevented from training during that period because of a disability or because you were held by a foreign government or power.”
Other extensions were also possible including an option for those who re-entered active duty “for 90 days or more after becoming eligible. The extension ends 10 years from the date of separation from the later period.” The only extension option possible for those with less than 90 days are in cases where the service member was separated from the military for:
- A service-connected disability
- A medical condition existing before active duty
- Reduction in force
The End Of VEAP Enrollment
The VEAP open season ended on 30 June 1985, around the time when the then-new Montgomery GI Bill program began.
However, VEAP was temporarily re-opened between October 28, 1986 and March 31, 1987 to give those still in uniform a chance to apply before the final termination of open enrollment on April 1, 1987. Those who did not enroll before the final closing of the program missed out on their eligibility.
Why Does VEAP Matter Now?
The end of VEAP makes sense in light of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Forever GI Bill, and other programs. While it’s true that VEAP ended before the most recent changes to GI Bill options for service members and military families, the end of VEAP may still have important financial repercussions for those who contributed but never used their benefits.
Those who did not use their benefits, or wished to withdraw from the program may be eligible for a refund of the service member’s share of the account. The government contributions would not revert back to the veteran or active duty member, just the veteran’s voluntary contributions.
If you never used your VEAP benefits or feel you are otherwise entitled to a refund of VEAP contributions you made to the account, you will be required to submit VA Form 22-5281, Application for Refund of Educational Contributions to the nearest VA regional office.
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