Forever GI Bill

Forever GI Bill Resources

Top 10 expanded student benefits in the Forever GI Bill

Making sense of legislation and federal assistance programs can sometimes be overwhelming even for those experts who work with the language used in these documents every day. We have sorted through the details to highlight the basic benefits of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 that President Trump signed into law in August 2017. This bill is an update to the original GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill. Most of its provisions go into effect starting August 1, 2018.

Following are the top 10 things we think you need to know:

#1 – No expiration date to use benefits

The bill’s nickname “Forever GI Bill” comes from one is its most outstanding features – the deletion of time limits to use the money for any new enlistees after they are discharged. The goal is to help adult veterans return to school when they are ready to advance their career for quickly changing workplaces.

#2 – Extra money and time for STEM degrees

The urgent demand for science, technology, engineering and math expertise in the job market is being responded to in many ways in the United States, including the encouragement of service members and veterans to acquire, transfer and expand those skills by applying for an additional nine months of GI Bill benefits or a lump sum scholarship to complete degrees in STEM fields.

#3 – Eligibility is offered to a wider group of service members

National Guard and Reserve members can now count time spent receiving medical care and recovery from active duty injuries toward eligibility for education benefits.

#4 – More benefits for Purple Hearts recipients

Service members and honorably discharged veterans who have received a Purple Heart in recognition of being wounded in action on or after September 1, 2001 can receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits related to tuition, textbooks and housing at the greatest level allowed instead of only a percentage regardless of time served. The 36-month requirement is no longer a hurdle.

#5 – Broader types of education included

A highly skilled workforce requires high-quality education. Military beneficiaries can now use their educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study programs, certificates and associate’s degrees at qualifying area career, technical and vocational education schools; and, certificates, degrees and doctorates at many colleges and universities.

#6 – Those left in the lurch are being launched forward

A retroactive provision of the Forever GI Bill is included to help those service members and veterans who were enrolled in several schools that abruptly closed in recent years and were not able to transfer to other qualifying educational institutions and unable to retrieve their paid tuition. Reimbursement is available for non-transferrable credits that held these students back.

#7 – Reimbursements available for exams

Certain out-of-pocket expenses for licensing and certification exams, assessments and tests are available through a reimbursement process.

#8 – Surviving spouses and children eligible for more education benefits

The Yellow Ribbon Program reduces or eliminates the amount veterans must pay themselves thanks to a voluntary agreement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and schools to split costs not covered by the GI Bill. Participation in this program is being extended to surviving spouses and children in August 2018 and active-duty service members in August 2022.

#9 – Benefits transfer as inheritance

A humanitarian addition to the bill more than a financial bonus, is the ability for veterans to transfer the remainder of their entitlement to a dependent in the case of their untimely death.

#10 – Easier access to benefits

Aiming for greater effectiveness and efficiency, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 also provides funding for critical resources to improve technology and training to ensure the program runs more smoothly from verifying eligibility to applying for benefits and processing claims.

Our team at American Business & Technology University can help you ensure you and your family members are maximizing your education opportunities as service members and veterans.


Other Resources:

  1. VA Official Website on the Forever GI BILL
  2. VA Official Website on Education and Training
  3. Purple Heart Recipients Benefits Effective on August 1, 2018
  4. Congress, BILL Text
  5. Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 Website
  6. CNBC News Report on the Forever GI BILL
  7. DAV Press Release on the Forever GI BILL
  8. US News Article