By Amy Stork
USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
The Ansbach Army Education Center recently held a GI Bill community session to discuss the differences in education benefits that are available to Veterans, service members and their dependents.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), is available to individuals who served at least 90 days of active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001. To be eligible for 100 percent of the benefits, you must have served 36 total months of active duty or you must have been discharged after Sept. 10, 2001 for a service-connected disability after 30 days of continuous active duty service.
The Forever GI Bill is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but this benefit does not have a time constraint like the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
As part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows for U.S. institutions of higher learning to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This agreement helps supply additional funds to students who attend a private or out-of-state school if the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not cover the entire tuition rate.
“With the Post-9/11, tuition and fees are paid directly to the school, up to the rate of the most expensive state university or college where the Veteran is considered an in-state student or almost $24,000 a year for a private institution,” said Dr. Marc CB Maxwell, Education Services Specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Education Center.
The Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30), transfers the funds directly to the student who then has to figure out how to pay for tuition, books, equipment, fees and living expenses. It does not matter if the student is attending a public or private university or if it is a state or community college.
“When you do the math for the Montgomery GI Bill, it comes out to around $73k over the life of the benefit, but if you look at any state university around the country, tuition generally exceeds $80,000 for an undergraduate degree. The Montgomery GI Bill pays the Veteran a set amount of money, which is over $1,900 per month, compared to potentially having all tuition, fees, books, and a housing allowance with the Post 9/11 GI Bill,” Maxwell said.
Many people will do the math and decide that one of the GI Bills is better for them, but that is not always the case because some states offer additional incentives and everyone’s personal situation is different, Maxwell said.
“It gets complicated, so just because you think this is the best, you really need to do more research and come in and talk to one of the education specialists,” he said.
Most of the education specialists and school representatives at the Ansbach Army Education Center have used at least one GI Bill, some have used multiple. There is also a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) located on site.
Scott Jones, Central Texas College’s local site coordinator, not only retired from 31 years of service as a Department of the Army Civilian, he also served on active duty and as a reservist. When he got out of the military, he used his Montgomery GI Reserve Bill, which allowed him to complete his Master of Business Administration.
One of the largest problems a soldier encounters is either not asking the right questions or not taking the time to explore all options before making a decision to take one of the many benefits over another such as choosing between the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill, Jones said.
Jones’ advice is to spend as much time as possible doing your own research so that you can develop a plan on what institution you want to attend and how to finance your academic future. A major part of this is using the expertise found in the Education Centers and using those resources as much as possible, he said.
OTHER EDUCATION BENEFITS
The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services can help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching. Other services may be provided to assist Veterans and Servicemembers in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35) program provides education and training opportunities to individuals who are Veterans’ and Service members’ dependents, spouses and surviving spouses determined to be eligible by the Regional Processing Office (RPO). There are a lot of people in the Ansbach community and Europe-wide who do not realize they qualify for this benefit, Maxwell said.
The Montgomery GI Bill — Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606) and Reserve Educational Assistance Program are available for eligible Reserve and National Guard members. While these benefits are available, if a Reservist or National Guard service member plans to transition to active duty, whatever benefits they use with these programs will be deducted from the more lucrative GI Bills offered to active duty service members, Maxwell said.
Once beneficiaries have evaluated their choices and made a decision, the process of applying for benefits should begin.
Beneficiaries need to fill out a VA Form 22-1990 (Veteran or service member) or VA Form 22-1990e (family member) online. The VA Web site for the GI Bill, www.gibill.va.gov, has a step-by-step program to assist visitors with understanding their GI Bill benefits and the terms for its use.
Future dates for Aspects of Higher Education Community Sessions:
The Ansbach Education Center staff invites everyone to learn more about different aspects of higher education. Sessions will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Ansbach Education Center, Bldg. 5817, 2nd Floor.
Wed, July 10 Choosing Your College, Factors to Consider
Wed, Aug. 7 College for Military Spouses in Europe
Tue, Sept. 10 FASFA Workshop
Wed, Oct. 9 Study Tips for Soldiers
Wed, Nov. 13 The History of Higher Education in the Army
Wed, Dec. 11 Successful Goal Setting
For more information call the Ansbach Education Center at DSN (314) 467-2817 or 0980-283-2817.