This email is to make you aware that you may be impacted by recent legislation, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-48, Section 112), commonly known as the “Forever GI Bill”. This law removes the time-limit for using the Post-9/11 GI Bill for certain Veterans and dependents. If you are currently using your education benefits, please be aware that letters produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) automated systems may incorrectly advise you that you have an end date to use your benefits. We are working to update our automated systems in order to resolve this issue in the coming months.
Individuals who no longer have a time limit to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill:
- Veterans with a last discharge or release from active duty on or after January 1, 2013, provided such discharge was from a period of service of at least 90 days in length.
- Spouses utilizing transfer of entitlement (TOE) benefits when the transferor has a last discharge or release from active duty on or after January 1, 2013, provided such discharge was from a period of service of at least 90 days in length.
- Children of deceased Servicemembers who first became entitled to the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry scholarship on or after January 1, 2013.
- Any spouse entitled to the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship.
Note: Children utilizing TOE are not impacted by Section 112 of Public Law 115-48.
If You Have Questions or Need Assistance
If you have questions or need assistance, contact VA at 1-888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). If you use the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the Federal number is 711.
Further information may also be found on our website at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/.
In this 99th year of commemorating Veterans Day on November 11, VA has broadened that observance and appreciation to designate the entire month of November as National Veterans and Military Families Month. At VA, we like to say that every day is Veterans Day, but this month and year it has been especially evident as we begin implementing several new provisions enacted by the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill.”
We plan on sending out periodic communications trying to keep everyone up to date on the 34 provisions of the law. For example, just yesterday I did interviews with 23 radio and TV stations across the country talking about the wonderful new benefits of the Colmery Act. Earlier this month, we outlined several sections that went into effect immediately. Today we’re underscoring the wide range of expanded educational benefit eligibility for Veterans and dependents that go into effect on August 1, 2018. While that may seem like a long ways off, we’re putting things in place now to ensure our Veterans are informed and the process is as smooth as possible.
Expansion of qualifying time for Post-9/11 GI Bill to certain Reserve and Guardmembers - The law expands the definition of “active duty” to include Reservists and Guardmembers ordered to active duty to receive authorized medical care, or to be medically evaluated for disability, or complete a Department of Defense (DoD) health care study. The expansion applies to service on or after September 11, 2001. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Purple Heart recipient Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility - Servicemembers and honorably discharged Veterans who were awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, will be entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months. This facet of the law closes a sort of “loophole” where Servicemembers who may not have otherwise had enough time in for full Post-9/11 eligibility are now fully entitled. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Yellow Ribbon extension to Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients - Recipients of the Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart will be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program provides assistance with tuition and fee charges not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, such as charges over the annual cap for a private school or out-of-state charges. Institutions enter into an agreement with VA to pay uncovered charges (schools decide the amount), and VA matches the amount the school waives. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Expansion of qualifying Reserve service - Those called to active duty under 12304, 12304(a), and 12304(b) orders on or after June 30, 2008 may have this service credited towards their Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
These amendments extend educational benefit eligibility to a greater population of Veterans and dependents who have responded to the call to serve - and sacrifice - for our country. This Veterans Month, and every day, we continue to thank you.
As you know, the recent passage of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” enacts several changes to the GI Bill that will positively impact Veterans and their families. Some of the changes became effective the day the law was signed, some next fall, and some in the future. In the months to come, I’ll be updating you on how this new law impacts VA education benefits and what actions Veterans may need to take.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the legislation that immediately went into effect with the President’s signature, and what it means for you.
The 15-year time limitation for using Post-9/11 GI Bill - The 15-year limitation to use benefits is removed for Veterans who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013, children who became eligible for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) on or after January 1, 2013, and all Fry Scholarship eligible spouses.
There is no action you need to take; if eligible, the limitation is simply removed for you.
Restoration of Benefits due to School Closure - We are now authorized to restore benefits and provide relief to Veterans affected by school closures or disapprovals.
If you attended courses or programs discontinued from January 1, 2015 to August 16, 2017, and attended an accredited institution of higher learning, and did not transfer any credits to a comparable program, entitlement will not be charged for the entire period of your enrollment. The law also provides separate criteria for partial benefit restoration for school closures after January 1, 2015.
To apply for restoration, we will develop a web page with instructions, information, and a form to complete and return. I will update you when this page is available, and we’ll post an announcement on our main GI Bill page and social media sites.
Independent study programs at career and technical education schools covered by GI Bill - This allows anyone eligible for GI Bill to use their benefits at an accredited independent study program at an area career and technical school, or a postsecondary vocational school providing postsecondary level education. A bit of background on this provision: before the passage of this law, most non-college degree programs weren’t approvable if any portion of it was online. This change allows those programs to be considered for approval even if some or all of the instruction is online/not in a classroom.
There is no action for you to take here, as these programs will go through the normal course of approval by the appropriate State Approving Agency. Any new programs will be added to our GI Bill Comparison Tool.
Reservists who had eligibility under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) and lost it due to sunset of the program will have that service credited toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill program - We are in the process of identifying the approximately 2,800 Reservists affected by this and will send them letters with instructions.
I will update you when the letters go out, and what to do if you did not receive a letter but feel you may be eligible for this restoration. We will also post more information on the GI Bill web and Facebook pages.
These changes will greatly benefit our nation’s Veterans by providing expanded access and opportunity to access education benefits. I will continue to update you as we work out the details of this legislation.
As always, thank you for your service.
The President just signed into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” named after the American Legion national commander who wrote the original GI Bill language in 1944. This legislation contains 34 new provisions, the vast majority of which will enhance or expand education benefits for Veterans, Servicemembers, Families and Survivors.
Most notably, Veterans who transitioned out of the military after January 1, 2013 will not be limited to the 15-year deadline to use their GI Bill benefits – hence the bill’s nickname, “Forever GI Bill.” This law also restores benefits to Veterans, who were impacted by school closures since 2015, and expands benefits for our reservists, surviving dependents, Purple Heart recipients, and provides many other improvements.
We see Congress’s overwhelming bipartisan support and the President’s signing as a major accomplishment for our nation’s Veterans. The original GI Bill has long been considered an enormous success by historians, politicians and economists for its impact on the post-war economy and capital investment in our “Greatest Generation.” The passage of this bill ensures that generations to come will continue to walk in that greatness.
As you can imagine, VA has a lot of work ahead of us in order to ensure successful implementation of this new law, and as we roll out each provision, we’ll keep you updated and informed on our progress.
Thank you all for your continued support of our nation’s Veterans, Servicemembers and their families.