Congress passed a new law expanding veterans education benefits and extending the amount of time service members and their families have to use them. Today, Senator Reed joined with veterans and education leaders at the National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) in Providence to outline the benefits of the “ ” and opportunities for college aid for student veterans and survivors of deceased service members.
Under current law, the helps pay for tuition, books, and other costs associated with college for service members or their family members for a 15-year window after completing their military service. The “ ” (also known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017) broadens eligibility and eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which veterans are required to use their benefits, so veterans can use their benefits at any time in their professional career. The bill also allocates more funds for college degree programs in information technology and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. It also expands other veterans education benefits and makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans who face school closures while enrolled, and surviving spouses and other family members.
“For over seventy years, the has helped empower veterans to pursue a better future for themselves and their families, and this law builds on that progress. The will broaden the scope of educational benefits for veterans and their families to attend colleges, universities, and high-demand training programs. It extends the window of opportunity for veterans and gives them added flexibility to get a degree or job-training on their time table,” said Senator Reed, a cosponsor of the . “This is a win for veterans and employers because it allows more veterans to gain technological skills, and it will provide employers with more of the skilled workers they need. The bill also opens the window of opportunity for tuition assistance to more reservists who deploy on active duty, to Purple Heart recipients, and to surviving family members of veterans who die in the line of duty.”
The current law covers all tuition and fees for public institutions and up to $22,805.34 per academic year at private schools. The education benefits provided by the bill’s passage would take effect for enlistees who begin using their benefits next year. For students attending private universities, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, as well as a bigger housing allowance.
Among the changes, the new will help veterans by:
* Eliminating the current 15-year time limit on use of education benefits for those who were discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013.
* Removing the 15-year-time limit for surviving spouses and children who became eligible after Jan. 1, 2013, to use a scholarship that provides full tuition at state colleges, along with a monthly living stipend and book allowance.
* Granting education benefits to Purple Heart recipients, regardless of their length of service.
* Allowing veterans who are studying science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) greater benefits if their field of study requires additional credits.
* Easing requirements for eligibility for National Guard members and Reservists and survivors and dependents of veterans.
* Restoring benefits to veterans affected by school closures since 2015.
* Reinstating the Reserve Educational Assistance Program for Reservists.
* Providing more on-campus educational and vocational counseling services for veterans.
* Increasing payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.
President Trump signed the bill into law August 16, 2017.
USMC Life contributed to the news release.