GI Bill Changes: How Far Will They Go?

With the recent signing of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvement Act, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  The way these changes were designed, they took some benefits from some groups in order to extend more benefits to other groups.  Many Post 9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries are vocally upset about the way the changes are structured.

One of the things I love about the internet is the fact that all sorts of people can share their thoughts with other people who might be far away.  It allows diverse groups to bring their thoughts to the common internet table and we all can learn from each other.

On that note, here are my thoughts:

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is not perfect, but it is awfully darn good.  The benefits are tremendously generous to start, and the ability to transfer benefits to family members is nothing short of remarkable.  Yes, I know that those benefits have been earned, but they are still beyond anything that I could have ever imagined the Department of Defense offering.  I also think that they are not sustainable for the long term.  The cost of the current GI Bill is more than our country can afford, and as a result, I predict that the current GI bill will be modified yet again before too much time passes.  I know that there are others who have similar thoughts.

If you agree with the premise that the current GI Bill is unsustainable, then you have to wonder:  How can I use the benefits of the current, generous GI Bill to best benefit my family?  As I consider the ways in which the current GI bill might be modified in the future, I have lots of questions.  Will the Department of Defense honor the transferred benefits as promised?  The absolutely unprofessional and ridiculous handling of the MyCAA situation suggests that the Department of Defense has no problem changing the rules in the middle of the game.  If I can’t trust the DOD to hold up to their end of the bargain, is it even worth transferring benefits to children who might not be in college for 5, 10, even 15 years?

If you question the long-term viability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you might consider trying to use as many of your benefits as possible quickly.  Active Duty members can use their GI Bill benefits to obtain more education than can be paid for by tuition assistance, and benefits can be transferred to spouses (if you meet the eligibility criteria.)  Maybe this is the right time for your spouse or you to pursue that education you’ve thought about.

So, what do you think?  Do you think that the Department of Defense will honor the terms of the current Post 9/11 GI Bill in the future, or do you think that they are likely to make significant changes to the benefits before your family or you have an opportunity to use them?  How are you planning to work the GI Bill system to best benefit your family?  I’m so curious what you think!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.

48 Comments on "GI Bill Changes: How Far Will They Go?"

  1. I agree that the Post 9/11 GI Bill is extremely generous. My husband has already transferred his to our daughter. They could take out the BAH living allowance for her and I would still be happy with it. Just the fact that he can transfer the tuition paid to her is great.
    I never used MyCAA. I already had all the education I wanted by the time I had heard about it. I almost think that was a bit too generous. The GI Bill is a benefit that they would expect to be used. Why not just leave it at that. It can be transferred to spouses and/or children, that covers the spouses. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great program that many spouses have been able to take advantage of to go to school, but there are now 2 programs for spouses to use for school.
    I think they'll eventually do away with MyCAA because of the cost of it.

  2. How do I find out eligibility of benefits for my husband? He served 8 years in the Army and got out in 1992. He was an E-4, promotable. Over the years we have obtained his DD-214 but need to dig further now. And with this new Post 9/11 GI bill, being able to transfer his education benefits to me. He has not need for the education benefits and I have already racked up enough education costs and would be much appreciative of some help!
    So can someone direct me of what website, what phone #, whatever it is, to get his eligibility??

  3. Renee, you can get more information at http://www.gibill.va.gov. There is a limit to how long a veteran has to use their GI Bill benefits. If your husband left the service in 1992, he would not be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI bill as it requires service since 9/11/2001.

    Good luck in your search.

  4. Of all the revised versions of the GI Bill, one thing that's been blatantly avoided is getting rid of the 10 year time limit. For veterans who have served honorably and have paid into it, this should be a lifetime benefit. And if they do finally realize that this is the right thing to do, it should be retroactive.

  5. Analisa Wilder | January 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    My husband spent 18 1/2 years in the Army, and he was forced to retire due to medical problem.. His actual date of retirement was Nov 2001, and how come he was not elegible of the Post 9/11?

  6. i think it is very sustainable, every talk about cutting spending and they immediately want to take it from DOD when they gladly hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to other countries every year, i say we stop paying for other countries and start taking care of our own, and i also agree with Chuck this should definitely be a lifetime benefit.

  7. Instead of asking "Can the DoD handle the money issues?" everyone needs to be asking "Can the VA handle the money issues?".

  8. My husband served 30 years total in the Marine and National Guard and got out in February 2005 after a tour in Iraq. I think it is a slap in the face to veterans that served in the theatre after 9/11 to not be granted all benefits of the 9/11 bill but new soldiers entering active duty automatically granted full privileges.

  9. I retired over 30 years ago. At that time we where promised many things and as time passes so did the promises. I am proud to say that I am retired as you folks are proud of your service time. With all that said, you folks might just as well suck it up and realize that you to will be used and abused as allot of us where. I hope that you get all that you ask for and deserve, BUT be careful what you ask. You my just get it.
    God bless America and all of the current service members and former members.

  10. For Brian Harrington: I beg your pardon, but the Coast Guard is considered an Armed Force, the 5th Armed Force! And, Coast Guardsman DO qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am one of them attending classes now. I am USCG retired after 25 years active duty.

  11. The thing that bothers me the most over the Post- 9/11 GI Bill is that we had to choose either the older version or the Post 9/11. Personally I picked the Post 9/11 because I received more benefits for the program that I was interested in. Since we took the Post 9/11 we are not allowed to go back to the original GI Bill, but with 2.0 we are losing some of the benefits that were the highligts of the original Post 9/11 bill. I find it very difficult to stomach that I will not receive BAH for semester breaks anymore. It isn't my fault that the school does not have classes during this time. I do however see the positive side of the 2.0 version. I agree that people doing distance learning should get the BAH that they are entitled to. Some people do not have the luxory to go to a brick and mortar school and should not be punished because of that.

  12. I have already transferred the full amount to my Daughter for her education (she is only 6) so by the time she is College age this should be a blessing….but like many here, how much do you trust the government in keeping the current policys? Both my wife and I cross our fingers that it will be there for our Daughter when she is ready (at that point college should cost about a $150K ) but we are also putting money away as well just in case…how does something like this become a guarantee? so many people will plan on this and then what if it is taken away?…what can we do about it? how can it become something that the government will have to honor?

  13. I know many here love it but the current GI ill makes me scratch my head…”what are they thinking giving that much”? living allowance? really? I’m sure if I was using it I wouldn’t complain but they really went to far with the allowances and I cannot see it sustaining

  14. I agree that there should be no expiration date.

    I also agree that it is unfair to those that weighed the benefits of both Ch 30 & Ch 33, then chose Ch 33 are now being taken up the river with cuts without a way to switch back. I wonder how many paid for the “buy-up” program, worthless after switching, and are now watching the cuts being implemented. I am glad that I only have 7 mos left of my MBA, but still think this is a typical bait-and-switch political assault on the one segment of citizens that deserve the MOST benefits.

    I also think it’s hilarious that so many puddle jumpers are sore about that crack made by Brian. Inappropriate, but the reponses are even more amusing.

  15. Yes, I am also a Navy vet whom transferred my benifits to 9/11 bill only to find out I can not transfer them to my daughter because I am HYT and was forced into the IRR. I drill every month, at my own expense. It’s not fair! I’ve served my country for over 28 years! I also did all the time they asked for after 9/11.

  16. You guys make me laugh. The government currently budgets $35 Billion dollars per year for PELL Grants. That is free money (no payback, no service to the country) just political foolishness. You deserve your GI Bill and the government has no reason to balk at it. Get on the phone to your Congressman and make sure he or she understands you will not tolerate any substantive changes, except expansions.

  17. I was medically retired in January 2009 due to service in Iraq. I think it is unfair that I cannot transfer my benefits to my children because it has to be after 8/2009. I earned these benefits and I was only 1.5 years from regular retirement .

    Also with everybody saying this is not sustainable all you have to look is at the social programs in this country. You have generations of welfare reciepents. Our government is giving away the bank to other countries. The GI BILL is a great investment for our country. If they cannot take care of the patriots that stood up to protect there freedoms they should be ashamed of themselves.

  18. Liza Figueroa | January 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    New to VA

    Welcome to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and thank you for your service to our country. The VA was established for one purpose

    “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…”

    Abraham Lincoln

    Eligibility for VA Benefits
    You may be eligible for VA benefits if you are a:

    Veteran, Veteran's dependent
    Surviving spouse, child or parent of a deceased Veteran
    Uniformed service member
    Present or former reservist or National Guard member

    Brian, you may want to review the history of the VA. http://www.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp

    CAPT Liza Figueroa, USPHS

  19. Liza Figueroa | January 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    Although Wikipedia may post erroneous information from time to time, even they know about the Armed Forces and Uniformed Services.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformed_services_o

    I am currently on my 22nd year of active duty service. 10 years in the Navy and
    12 in the US Public Health Service. I have a DD214 from the Navy and will have one from the PHS when I retire.

    I am very fortunate to have gone to college under my father's VEAP. I also signed up for the GI Bill and paid my dues in the Navy. Now that we can extend the benifits to spouses and dependents I can't because they combined what I used from my father with what I used from the Navy/PHS even though I did not use all of my benefits.

    Thanks to all for serving our country,

    CAPT Liza Figueroa, USPHS

  20. After reading everyone post I am confused because my husband is in the Marines now and has 25 years of service with his current EAS for 2012 and I have the 9/11 GI Bill chapter 33? I think it is, he transferred it to me so I can finish my Masters degree but whats the BAH you are talking about? I heard someone mention that at school last semester but I thought that was only for actual service member that does not transfer, am I wrong?

  21. It's not posible? It's not sustainable? What? Our sevice members don't know this words, this phrases. Tell an outnumbered, outguned Marine platoon to take a hill and one thing you will never hear is "It's not possible." They'll find a way, and they'll gett it done. It's a shame that 1/4 of our vets are homeless and that we have 19% unemployment for veterans under 25, but that's what this kind of talk produces. It blocks the brain from looking for solutions, it surrrenders to the idea that there is only one possible out come, to cut benefits. Before we do, let's look for solutions, because I hardly believe that there is a more deserving group of Americans.

  22. I am using the chapter 30 Gi bill and it does not pay enough because I am going to a private school but by taking some of my classes when I was on active duty I would have enough to finish school if they gave it to me all at once. I wish they would just reimburse us for the cost every month it would make it a lot easier than dealing with the reps all the time. I like it the way it is it just needs to be tweeked some. Once you get it started though uit works pretty well with the call in program. and I do not think you should get to use it if you got a degree when you were in and you used TA. The government should pay for One degree not 2 or more. If you are a career student while on Active duty then you are slacking on your duties.
    US Navy MMC (SW/AW) Retired

  23. I am a retired AF E-7 and am using my Post-9/11 benefits right now at a private college. While I certainly appreciate the government’s assistance by way of this program, I absolutely don’t think they should have messed with it. You don’t promise things to people and then when you decided you made a mistake and didn’t include everyone or everything you should have, start taking away what you promised so you can rob Peter to pay Paul.

    There is plenty of government waste and questionable budget items to more than make up for what we have earned and been promised. I don’t agree that this program should become a victim of our budget problems, regardless of what it costs. That was a question that was dealt with at the time the law was passed.

    Our nation relies on us to support and defend the Constitution and to follow orders. Our government needs to follow through on its promise to us just like we did for our government.

  24. Retired Warrant 3 | January 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    I'm a retired Warrant that recently finished by Bachelor's using the Post 9/11 Bill and am now working on my Master's. I have twins that are in 11th grade and would rather have the ability to transfer this benefit to them, than any other benefit I rate since my retirement. Unfortunately I retired in 2005 and am not eligible to transfer this benefit in the same way veterans since 2009 can. Veteran benefits are getting better than retiree benefits every month and I think it's high time my seven deployments gets the respect it deserves. Taking from us retirees to sweeten the deal for 1 tour "veterans" is an insult. That is why the GI Bill won't last. It's available for any Tom, Dick, and Harry that did a short reserve tour. If you have half a brain, you'll use it as fast as you can.

  25. Overall you have to weigh adequate vs extravagant. Military life is traditionally one humility and quiet professionalism. With that

    -look how many people NEVER join legitimate Military organizations like AUSA, NCOA, VFW. Now stack on the dependents who aren’t enrolled in this same organizations as “legacy”, “auxiliary”, “associate” members, etc. The Military Order of the Purple Heart awarded an estimated 80x $ 3,000.00 scholarships in 2010 if I remember correctly. Not to mention they lobby for ou rights.

    There also needs to some stricter guidance about those not making the grade while in college. Some Veterans need to remember eyes are on them set the example as veteran. To carry on the justification of time and money well spent.

  26. ok, now i am a little curious now. Are there people out there that are getting BAH in between semesters? I have been using the POST 911 GI Bill for a year now and I have never got BAH in between semesters. They pro-rate and I have only gotten it for when i am actually attended school.

  27. I'm a retired Army Warrant Officer, my days in the military were long and complicated like many of my fellow servicemembers. If I had slept 2 hours a night I could have found time to get an education while on active duty. As it was, I decided I would sleep and see my wife when I wasn't deployed. So now that I'm retired I go to school full time on the GI Bill.
    While the GI Bill is generous and a long awaited reward for putting our all into the service it should never be watered down and tampered with.
    How many billions of dollars have we sunk into nations such as Palestine that allow renegades to destroy our equipment on a weekly basis and while they harbor the very terrorists we're hunting in protected tribal regions?
    Why are we always sending aid packages of millions and billions of dollars to other countries?

  28. I think its a shame that I cannot transfer the ed. benefits to my son. What's the difference whether its paid to me or my son. I retired after 21.5 years on 5/31/2007.

  29. i am new to this my wife has been in the army for 13years how can i go to school on her gi bill

  30. My boyfriend is receiving the Post 9/11 benefits for school and BAH. If it wasn’t for this, we would not be able to live on our own and would be forced to move in with family. This is a god sent. He is able to go back to school to pursue his degree and many certifications in HVAC along with us getting our BAH stipend.

  31. Be thanksful you have any education benefit. I retired after serving 20 honorable years, with out any benefit at all. All because the education office at Hill AFB , didn't have all the facts about the the Montgomery GI bill.

  32. Why did DoD not give all veteran who earned the GI Bill the choice to transfer their benefits? I retired in Dec 2006 and I do not qualify to transfer my GI Bill benefits to my daughter who is getting ready to start her senior year in high school. Wrong – Just Wrong….

  33. Like you, I am amazed at the opportunity this lends not only to the Service member but also to his family. DOD absolutely cannot sustain the cost of continual coverage; it is just not feasible. And so I would like to encourage all to use it now while they can. For myself I am one of the lucky ones, my kids are in college now and the last one will be there this August. I am also going back for my grad degree and my Soldier is also pursuing his degree.

    For those who have transferred their benefits to their youngsters, I would recommend taking the funds and going back to school. Get an education that will offer better job opportunities so that you can better provide for them later. The value of the benefits will change and you may wish you had used them now.

    The MyCAAP WAS A DISASTER but is an example of what the future may hold for this fantastic benefit. How many of us wish that we had used the MYCAAP when it first come out? Will you still be wishing later? Act now!

  34. Michael Gobert | January 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm |

    As far as programs like the Post 911 GI Bill our government can not be trusted since the majority of our government have never worn the uniform. So over all they don’t even know what they are doing let alone try to think of programs. Also the majority government officials only get into office to get a pay check while having no clue of reality. I have noticed that the majority of programs have more limitations than they are useful.

  35. Arturo Maambong | January 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    This is subject for a long debate, Upset must not be the conclusive feelings.

    Politics and Military service must have unity to avoid misunderstanding between the law makers and the United States Armed Forces because We stand United.

  36. I just find it funny they have trillions to offer big banks but when it comes to the soldier that fights and sacrifices for his/her country its always the "Opps sorry no cash in the piggy bank" excuse. Why do they need to cut from a one of the best programs the government has given the individual US soldier in a long time to increase benefits in other areas of the same program, why not cut the wasteful spending on campaign marketing or other programs that are started, never finished but not before tens of millions are spent on them before they are scraped. The government talks a good game about supporting the US soldier but when it comes down to it we are disposable like the rest of their toys.

  37. Referring to the politicians and how much they get paid, get off your ignorance. Have you ever looked at Officer pay in the armed forces like a 3 star general take home of about 16000 /M. You must ask a few questions on this complaint to put it politely. Who is your congressman? If you can't answers that then find out !!! Next Wright your congressman and with good solid argument about what ever issue you have and ways to solve it. Also get your friends to do the same. I find most people complain about issues and fail to take action. I used to tell my Marines there is a Bitch and a complaint, complaints come with suggestions on how to fix it. Anything else is just ignorance.

  38. I ask that everyone here, send a letter DIRECTLY to the White House, via their website. I sent mine yesterday, as I was writing my draft during the State of The Union Address, and made key notes that he said, which affected the "message" of my letter. The White House website will accept up to 2500 characters, my "letter" was 2 full pages, and it fit. Also, do your research, find out WHO, and HOW your Senate and Reps. etc VOTED on the topic. Send them a copy of your letter that you sent to the President. It's worth the effort, and it let's you local/state politicians know how you feel about it. Go one step further… if your case is like mine, I found who the rep is in the location for the school you go to/intend to go to…see how they voted…and send them your letter also. Bravo Zulu to all that serve and have served. Good Luck.

  39. Of course the current benefits are not sustainable. They should do away w/the transferring the education benefits to the servicemember’s children for one. Let the servicemember’s kids join the join the military themselves to earn these benefits. I got my education benefits as a Vietnam Era veteran, they could have been better but they were something @ no cost to me excepting performance of honorable military service. There are surely some aspects of the “new” GI Bill that can be cut others that should not be. The question, as I see it, is cut what makes sence & keep what makes sence. But hey folks, we’re talking about the government here….aren’t we? Don’t hold your breath about them using common sence in anything.

  40. The government has given the veterans during the 9/11 era a handsome benefits. As one of the veterans of this era, we are very appreciative of the benefits and right now have given me a huge opportunity to expand my educational and skill knowledge. Now we are on the middle of this, some inconsiderate lawmakers want to cut this benefit. This will put us hanging and not to be able to finish our educational goals. And who are the "Other" that they are referring to. We all went to fight for the country, served and given our years of life to serve and defend the constitution. They gave us a good incentive and benefits and now they want to take it back. It is like giving a candy to a child and when the child is enjoying it, then you want to take it away. What a shame to those lawmakers and authorities who want to cut our benefits. What they need to cut is their own salaries and benfits. They passed a law yet they are exempted from it. A very hypocritical attitude on their parts.

  41. ..100% permanent and totally…I believe those are the words!

  42. When I joined the service I had one semester to complete for my degree, and I eventually completed my degree. I did receive post benifits however following 9/11 I could not continue my military service because I was injured on active duty. I completed approximately 13 years and am now using my VA benefits. I wanted to complete my 20 years I was unable. My Question if anyone can answer is why is there no provision for allowing me to transfer my benefits to my daughter who is in college. If I understand correctly if I extend my service obligation I would be able to. However, because I am 50+ disabled I am disqualified for allowing her the benefits.
    Maybe I am unclear on the progarm. Can I transfer my Post 9/11GI Benefits to her even though I am a disabled Vet?
    if anyone could assist me I would greatly appreciate it …..

  43. It is not a surprise, the manipulation being done on the entire family of veterans both career and non-career vets. Just wait until Secretary Gates gets done with his cutting and hacking on our benefits, health care and the rest! We'll be lucky if a vet has anything left!

  44. My husband just started back to college and we have not yet received anything from the GI Bill but was told we would get the BAH. I was wondering if someone could explain to me about the time period which No BAH is offered?

  45. When I started back to school last year it took almost 3/4 of the first semester to get my bah but its been like clockwork on the first ever since.

  46. sherri smith | January 31, 2011 at 3:30 am |

    Take away spouse and children benefits (the ones who didnt serve or earn the benefit) Before taking away from a veteran who served and earned the benefit.

  47. i know its super frustrating. i quit my job and didnt recieve my pay till 3 months after i quit my job. i was very mad but when i finally started recieving the post 9-11 it comes like clockwork. the waititng is the frustrating part but when u get it its very worth it

  48. Not sustainable? What about those majority of soldiers who never have even used the gi bill, but still paid $1200? It was explained that it was a form of investment into the program. It's hard for me to imagine all those funds just disappearing or not being enough when a large number of soldiers don't even use the gi benefits.

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