Veterans get more education benefits for non-degree training

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó Starting today, veterans who have served in the past decade can use more of their education benefits for job training that doesnít lead to a degree.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which has provided benefits to more than 558,000 veterans and family members, is expanding to include vocational training, flight programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and state licensing for trades.
The expansion is part of an effort to employ veterans by helping them gain skills for high-paying jobs that donít require degrees.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), over 1 million service-members are projected to leave the military between 2011 and 2016. The unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 9.8 percent; among the females, itís significantly higher at 16.6 percent.
Carol Waters, public affairs officer with the W. G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, said she doesnít know much about the expansion but thinks it will be good for local veterans in a tough economy.
ěThey have new educational opportunities that will help them enter the job force and prepare for the challenging positions they will fill,î Waters said.
Paula Dibley, public information officer with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said the college can help veterans make good use of their benefits and provide guidance.
ěOur career counseling and academic advancement programs can be especially critical for veterans,î she said.
Career training and non-degree programs are already covered under the older Montgomery GI Bill, officials said, but the Post-9/11 GI Bill expands those benefits for those who have served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition, veterans enrolled in online programs now will be eligible for partial housing benefits. Those benefits have been offered only to students who are physically attending school.
Federal VA officials estimate that 40,000 veterans will take advantage of the expanded opportunities.
ěThe VA right now is doing its best to ensure that our veterans have the right job skills, training and education to move forward,î said Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs. ěI have great confidence in their ability to add to Americaís economic opportunity environment and the rebuilding of our national capability.î
Starting today, the Post-9/11 bill will include the following changes:
Non-college degree programs: Non-college degree programs offered at non-degree granting schools. Pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees or $17,500, whichever is less. Also pays up to $83 per month for books and supplies.
On-the-job and apprenticeship training: Pays a monthly benefit amount prorated based on time in program and up to $83 per month for books and supplies.
Flight programs: Per academic year, pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $10,000, whichever is less.
Correspondence training: Per academic year, pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $8,500, whichever is less.
Housing allowance is now payable to students (other than those on active duty) enrolled solely in distance learning.The housing allowance payable is equal to half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents. The full-time rate for an individual eligible at the 100 percent eligibility tier would be $673.50 for 2011.
Students on active duty receive a books and supplies stipend.
For more information, visit www.gibill.va.gov or call 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551).

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