In 2017, President Trump signed off on a bill that will bring changes to the education benefits offered to service members, veterans and their families. The legislation, referred to as the Forever GI Bill, was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Some of the benefits it provides to service members began rolling out in August of this year, though others will take a few more years to take effect. Here are four of the biggest benefits this new bill offers to military members.
No expiration date
In the past, veterans had to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill within 15 years of their last 90-day period of active duty. Now, that requirement no longer exists. This applies to anyone who left military service after January 1, 2013. It is also applicable to the family members of service members who were killed in the line of duty since Sept. 10, 2001, that are receiving education benefits.
Purple Heart recipients get more benefits
This new bill means that anyone who’s been given a Purple Heart on or following Sept. 11, 2001, can now receive 100 percent of the benefits that are offered under the post-9/11 GI Bill. This includes the coverage of tuition costs at a public institution’s in-state rate for 36 months, with stipends for housing and textbooks.
Under the previous bill, Purple Heart recipients fell under the same time-in-service requirements as other service members, which meant Purple Heart recipients who didn’t have a service-related disability and didn’t reach 36 months of service were only able to receive a percentage of the benefits.
Extra time and money for STEM degrees
Pursuing a degree in the STEM field may take longer than four years to complete. This new bill accounts for that extra time. Now, an additional year of school funds is available to service members and veterans on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Expanded eligibility for Yellow Ribbon
The Yellow Ribbon program is an agreement between the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and schools to split the cost of school expenses not covered by the GI Bill. The new bill expands eligibility for this program to surviving children and spouses of service members.
President Trump signing this bill proves that he works hard to support the courageous service members that put their life at risk for the freedom of this country.