First off - I want to make sure that the changes proposed to the GI Bill are just proposed. It will take a while before the decision is final and the changes actually take place. But it looks like things are on the right track to help more veterans become productive after their service to our country. A synopsis of the changes from JDNews:
"One of the more costly provisions of S. 3447 would expand the new GI Bill beyond covering college courses to any type of training that veterans might want, from vocational schools and apprenticeships to flight instruction. Post-9/11 vets who currently take non-degree courses must make an irreversible decision to use their less-generous Montgomery GI Bill benefit.
"Another Akaka provision would make National Guard members eligible for the new GI Bill based on time spent on active duty through Title 32 call-ups for domestic emergencies or homeland security missions, or to serve fulltime under the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) program. Guard members activated under this authority since 9/11 were overlooked for Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility in 2008 in the scramble to shape and pass a final bill. Last year, by Guard estimates, the oversight had denied more than 75,000 Army Guard and 2500 Air Guard members access to the best veterans’ education benefit since World War II. Even more Guard members would qualify today given recent call ups for the oil disaster and border security."
"A third key provision of S. 3447 would eliminate what Akaka described as “a complicated, confusing and, in some cases, inequitable calculation of State-by-State tuition and fee caps” for setting Post-9/11 benefits. A simplified system still would ensure that vets in degree programs at public institutions anywhere in the U.S. pay little, if any, out of pocket costs. For those enrolled in private or foreign colleges, tuition and fees payments would match the lessor of actual college charges or of a national tuition-and-fee cap. The cap would be the average of tuition and fees across both public and private institutions for the most recent academic year."
"Two other important parts would: Provide for a modified living allowance to vets seeking degrees solely through online or distance learning if at more than the half-time rate. They would get 50 percent of the allowance payable to resident students.
Provide enrolled Post-9/11 students still on active duty, or their enrolled spouses, the book allowance of up to $1,000 annually."
Some really solid improvements to a great benefit. We will keep you posted as the changes progress. In light of very tight budgets, this is not going to be an easy bill to get approved.