Earlier this month, a few significant changes went into effect in regards to the GI Bill. The subject brings out a lot of opinions and passionate responses. I wanted to take some time to share some of the details.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a valuable benefit provided to our servicemembers.

You may have recently heard some folks calling it the “Forever GI Bill” because of the elimination of the 15-year time limit to use the benefit.

In a nutshell, the 15-year time limit for those who were discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

There were also some changes to the housing allowance portion of the GI Bill. If you began using the bill after Jan. 1, 2018, you saw a lower housing allowance than those using it prior to that date. The housing allowance change covers 90 percent of the housing costs instead of 100 percent. Don’t fret — if you began using the GI Bill before this year, your housing allowance stays the same.

The other thing that changed as of Aug. 1, 2018 is that allowance will be calculated based on where you physically attend the majority of your classes. This impacts those students who attend a satellite campus of the college. The Bill uses to pay you based on the main campus of your college.

There may be some cases of class credit that was lost because of school closed or lost accreditation, the portion of the GI Bill that you used for those classes will be given back to you if the school closed or lost its accreditation after Jan. 1, 2015.

Side note on this subject; please look to choose established, known colleges and universities. You may be getting the money back, but the loss of your time is precious.

The Post-911 GI Bill is now open to more Guard and reserve members. It applies to all those mobilized after Aug. 1, 2008, but you only get paid for classes that started after Aug. 1, 2018.

Transferring the GI Bill isn’t part of the Forever GI Bill, so it does affect many of our service members and their families.

The ability to transfer the Post-9/11 GI Bill was ordered by the Pentagon as a retention incentive.

Service members must commit to at least four additional years of service to be eligible to transfer benefits to their dependents.

Last month, the new policy made one major change to the transferability that take effect on July 13, 2019.

It caps the transfer window at 16 years of service. You must complete the transfer paperwork prior to that date, or your will not be able to transfer the benefits.

If you are planning to use the Forever GI Bill, please make sure you understand the ins and outs of what you are eligible for. Also, military advocates encourage you to transfer the benefit right away if that is the route you are planning to go.

There are still more changes ahead for the GI Bill, to include expanded training for STEM and additional pilot programs for high-tech classes that may not be a part of the normal degree structure.

There is certainly a lot to understand when it comes to the GI Bill and using this benefit. There is a lot written into the bill, and a lot to wrap your mind around.

Make sure you do your homework and seek assistance as needed. You can do a variety of searches to get information, but make sure you start at the Department of Veteran Affairs Forever GI Bill page.

Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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