The largest expansion to the Post-9/11 GI Bill since its creation in 2008 is about to become law. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act will strengthen and expand the GI Bill and other veterans education programs. IAVA not only led the fight to create the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but we’ve fought to make it better in the years since. IAVA was proud to play a key role in developing the “GI Bill 2.0” in 2010 and we’re proud to support this effort. We’ll also continue to fight to protect the GI Bill from cuts or other senseless proposals by politicians.
The new bill includes updates that also don’t impact all veterans or their loved ones in the same way. To help you understand what the The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act means for you, see IAVA’s analysis below.
No matter who you are:
The bill would remove the senseless 15 year limitation on use for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This provision would take effect immediately and apply to service members discharged on or after January 1, 2013.
Are you in the Guard and Reserves?
National Guard members and Reservists have been continuously on the front lines since 9/11. Despite this reality, many are not afforded the same GI Bill benefits that their active duty counterparts are entitled to. The Colmery bill works towards addressing this gap in GI Bill benefits by:
- Effective August 1, 2020, it will increase the amount of funding that individuals who serve at least 90 days but less than 6 months on active duty from 40% to 50% receive, and individuals who serve at least 6 months but less than 12 months from 50% to 60%.
- Effective August 1, 2018, it would recognize Reservists’ service under 12301(h) orders (reservists activated to active duty for medical reasons) by adding time spent on these active duty orders as qualifying time for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Allows certain Reservists to transfer into the Post- 9/11 GI Bill if they lost educational benefits when Congress repealed the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP).
- Requires the VA to pro-rate the GI Bill housing stipend provided to Reservists who get called up for active duty during the middle of a month. Currently, if you are activated for even one day, you’d lose your entire GI Bill stipend for that month. . So under current law, if a Reservist is on active duty for even one day in a month, then they would lose their entire month of GI Bill housing allowance.
- Extends Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility to Reservists who are under orders: 12304 (Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve members activated under Presidential Reserve Call-up Authority), 12304a (Reservists activated for disaster response purposes), and 12304b (Reservists within Selected Reserve units that are involuntarily activated in support of a combatant command).
- Makes Reservists serving under 12304, 12304a, and 12304b orders eligible for benefits under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program.
Are you a Purple Heart recipient?
This bill would allow all honorably-discharged Purple Heart recipients to fully use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and gain eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon program:
- Currently, a veteran must have completed at least 3 years of active duty service or be medically retired in order to fully use the Post-9/11 GI Bill or be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program. Some Post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients, however, were honorably discharged before either of those qualifications were met. Effective August 1, 2018, the Colmery bill addresses this oversight so Purple Heart recipients can make full use of their GI Bill benefits.
Are you a survivor or dependent?
The Colmery bill better provides for survivors and dependents who have had GI Bill benefits transferred to them by:
- Increasing educational assistance payments provided under the Survivors’ and Dependent’ Educational Assistance Program by $200 a month.
- Extending the Yellow Ribbon Program to students receiving GI Bill payments through the Fry Scholarship program (which provides Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11).
- Allowing a veteran to transfer the remainder of their GI Bill benefits to another dependent if the dependent who originally received the transferred benefits dies before they can use all of the benefits.
- The bill also allows a dependent to transfer remainder of a GI Bill entitlement to another dependent after the death of the servicemember or veteran.
Did you attend ITT Tech or Corinthian Colleges?
The Colmery bill restores the GI Bill entitlement of individuals who were forced to discontinue their studies due to the permanent closure of their school. Recent examples of this include the closings of ITT Tech or Corinthian Colleges. These for-profits colleges aggressively recruited veterans because of their GI Bill benefits and their closings have left many veterans in hardship.
This part of the bill would take effect 90 days after the Colmery bill has passed into law and apply to closures after January 1, 2015.
To learn more about the GI Bill benefits you’re currently entitled to, please visit http://www.newgibill.org/.