Are you looking for information about the latest installment of the “GI Bill?” Are you ready to enroll in an institution of higher learning? Will you be seeking either an undergraduate or graduate degree? Are you considering a distance learning program? This term GI Bill refers to educational benefits available to individuals who have served in the armed forces of the United States. The benefits are part and parcel of the compensation to members of the voluntary military. The types and amounts of benefits have changed through the years. Changes have been made to meet the needs of each generation of soldiers. A new post 9/11 bill provides benefits for military members who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. The law became effective August 1, 2009. It contains a housing allowance for distance, or online, learners. This new provision recognizes that in the current world of education, not all students attend a traditional class on campus in buildings. It is a new world with many college programs offered entirely online with only minimal contact with the campus. You can earn your college degree with a laptop and hard work. You do not have to pack up and leave home. The expense of finding housing near a campus is no longer a factor. If this scenario fits your situation, then read on for further information.
Like most benefits, time limits exist for claiming the post 9/11 benefits. The basic rule states that benefits must be used within 15 years of the date of discharge. This time limit allows sufficient time to pursue educational programs. Anyone intending to use the benefits needs to set out a plan that meets the time deadlines. Do not let these benefits lapse. They are part of your pay package. Remember that your maximum benefits are for 36 months. Only months when you are actually enrolled in school count towards that limit. If you take the summer or one semester off, those months do not count.
In addition to the time limits, you must make sure you qualify for the benefits. In general, if you served a minimum of 36 months on active duty, you are covered. The minimum time frame for coverage is 90 day on active duty. Any service between 90 days and 36 months provides prorated benefits. For example, if you served at least 24 months but less than 30 months, you are entitled to receive benefits equal to 80% of the maximum benefits payable under law.
GI Bill Distance Learning Housing Allowance
Just how does this distance learning benefit work? To qualify for the distance learning housing allowance, or any housing allowance, your enrollment in college must be considered to be greater than one-half time. In other words, if your school considers a full-time student to be one taking 12 semester hours, then you must take more than 6 semester hours to receive a housing allowance. The distance learning housing allowance is less than the amount paid to students in physical residence at a college. Those students receive the housing allowance for an E-5 with dependents based upon the location of the school. The distance learning housing allowance is a set amount. For example, for the 2011 academic year it was $673.44. This figure was computed by taking one-half of the average national housing allowance for an E-5 with dependents. The amount will rise each year; for the 2012 academic year it is up to $684.00 per month.
The addition of the distance learning housing allowance is an important addition to the post 9/11 benefits. The GI Bill pays for tuition and fees in full if you attend a public college or university. Partial payments are made for private school. It further provides a stipend for books and supplies, up to $1,000 per year. Those benefits cover the extra costs of going to school. They do not cover living expenses. The housing allowance is the vehicle for paying those costs. There are many reasons students do not want to move to a city or town with a physical school. Your spouse may have a good job. You may have children in school and do not want to move them. You may like your present community or your current housing is very economical. The reasons to take distance learning are many and varied. This new feature for a distance learning housing allowance allows veterans to keep their current residences while pursuing the multitude of choices available online.
By making the housing allowance for distance learning a fixed amount, you can now plan a budget. You know exactly how much money you will have each month. This provides a valuable tool in determining how you are going to survive while completing your educational program. The post 9/11 GI Bill is a valuable benefit for service members. The new distance learning housing allowance makes it even more valuable. Do not miss out on this opportunity to further your education from the confines of your current residence.