Post-9/11 GI Bill assists service members, families

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan, (December 2, 2011)  — Recent changes have been made to the Post-9/11 GI Bill taking the guesswork out of applying for and using the benefit.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of collective service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs officials.

Recent changes include; paying all public in-state tuition and fees, a $17,500 tuition and fees cap per academic year for private and foreign schools, a housing allowance for students attending college solely via the internet, coverage of vocational/technical training, on-the-job-training, flight and correspondence training and national testing programs, said Robert R. Stenard, a supervisory guidance counselor with the Camp Foster Education Center.

"All tuition and fees will now be covered for all public in-state schools," he added. "Students who are interested in attending private schools will now have $17,500 per academic year for tuition and fees."

Before the recent changes, the Post-9/11 GI Bill covered tuition and fees up to the most expensive in-state public school. Fees and tuition for private schools were also matched with the most expensive in-state public school.

Service members interested in transferring their Post-9/11 GI Bill to their dependents must initiate a request through the transfer of education benefits website.

After the request is complete, service members need to bring a printed copy of the completed request to their career retention specialist.

"Once their request is complete online, they will come into our office to verify they have the obligated time in service," said Sgt. Richard G. Atkins, a career retention specialist with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. "From there, we submit their request to Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Once it has been reviewed, their benefits will be successfully transferred."

Individuals are required to complete six years in the armed forces, active duty or reserve, and must already be obligated to four additional years before they are authorized to transfer.

After senior leaders recognized how long the process was taking to transfer benefits, they created a billet at HQMC to ensure service members' requests were being handled in a timely manner, added Atkins.

"Too many times before, the beneficiary had started schooling before the benefits were transferred, resulting in them paying out of pocket for classes," said Atkins. "I recommend waiting for the benefits to successfully transfer over before starting anything."

Dependents eligible to receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill are the service member's spouse, children or a family member that is enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System and is eligible for benefits at the time of transfer, according to DVA officials.

"These recent changes will help service members and their families receive the training they need to be successful and reach their goals," said Stenard.

For more information contact your career retention specialist or log on to www.gibill.va.gov.

Marines.mil is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.