The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (S 3447) moved rapidly through both houses of Congress in mid-December 2010. The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on December 13, and in the House by a vote of 409 - 3 on December 16, 2011.
Even before the bill was signed, there was talk in Washington of a subsequent "corrections" bill. In the rush to move the bill along during the lame duck session, the Senate bill was passed "as is" by the House, but many stakeholders--including representatives of colleges and universities--preferred certain provisions in the House bill. Two provisions are of particular concern:
- the lack of a hold-harmless provision for veterans already pursuing an educational program who will find their tuition and fee benefit decreased, and
- Tthe "last payer" provision (described below) which will add complexity to the determination of benefit payments. The American Council on Education sent a letter to the House detailing these concerns.
Summary of Major Changes
Here is a quick summary of the major fixes and substantive changes included in - The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2010.
Most of the fixes do not take effect until August 1, 2011 OR October 1, 2011. We are awaiting further clarification from the Veteran's Administration of some of these changes.
- Expands current Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility to include National Guard activation for events like title 32, national emergencies, and AGR service. This is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009, but benefits will not be paid until Oct. 1, 2011.
- Simplifies the tuition payment rates by eliminating the state-by-state “undergraduate level” cap for tuition and fees. The VA will pay all actual tuition and fees for public (state) institutions for all levels of higher education. Effective Aug. 1, 2011. — Also applies to active duty servicemembers and their families, which goes into effect 60 days after enactment.
- Sets an annual tuition and fee cap for all private institutions of $17,500 a year. This translates into $52,500 total for tuition and fees over the life of the benefits (36 months). Yellow Ribbon is still available to cover out-of-pocket tuition and fees expenses. Effective Aug. 1, 2011
- Limits the monthly housing stipend by prorating the payment to the rate of pursuit (based on number of course hours taken). For example a half-time student will receive 50 percent of the current Basic Allowance for Housing (' BAH") . All other locality payment rates still apply. Effective Aug. 1, 2011
- Expands eligibility for the monthly housing stipend to all half-time of better “distance learners” at a rate of 50 percent of the national average for BAH (approximately $673) – which will also be prorated to the rate of pursuit (based on the number of course hours taken). Effective 10/1/2011 – not retroactive.
- Eliminates housing stipend payments during break periods (spring break, summer semester, winter break, etc.). Effective Aug. 1, 2011.
- Expands the annual book stipend eligibility to include active duty and their spouses. Learn how to save money of textbooks . Effective Oct. 1, 2011
- Enables disabled veterans who are entitled to subsistence under the Voc-Rehab (VR&E) program and Post-9/11 GI Bill to take the P911 Housing Stipend in place of the VR&E subsistence payment. Effective Aug. 1, 2011
- Removes the limit of just one test for licensure or certification and expands coverage to include “National Tests” like SAT, GRE, LSAT, and tests for college credit like the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Effective Aug. 1, 2011.
- Grants GI Bill eligible care givers an extension on their 10 year deadline for using benefits. Effective Aug. 1, 2011.
- Enables eligible NOAA and USPHS members to transfer GI Bill benefits like all other eligible members. Effective Aug.1, 2011
Updated May 26, 2011