You've earned the right to a higher education through your service in the U.S. Armed Forces. But how do you use your GI Bill benefits? Which version is right for you? The Legion can help answer questions about state and/or federal education benefits, who can use them, and how long.
Veterans who may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs should consider choosing Chapter 31 education benefits (Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment, or VR & E). They may be a better option than the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Besides the Chapter 31 monthly allowance, veterans training in vocational rehabilitation programs may also receive tuition, fees, books and supplies, as well as counseling and supportive services that include employment assistance.
Since the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act went into effect on Aug. 1, 2011, veterans using VR&E benefits can choose an alternate monthly allowance that is often higher than the regular Chapter 31 subsistence allowance.
This alternate monthly amount under Chapter 31 is based on the basic housing allowance for a servicemember in the pay grade of E-5 with dependents, where the school or other training facility is located. To determine the rate, go to the Defense Travel Management Office website, enter the school’s zip code for "Duty Zip Code", select pay grade "E-5", and click on "Calculate". The rate listed will be the alternate monthly allowance for full-time training under Chapter 31.
Additionally, the new law mandates that veterans who receive VR & E benefits or GI Bill education benefits will no longer be paid during intervals between school terms. For example, if the fall 2012 semester ends on Dec. 20, and the spring 2013 semester starts on Jan. 15, a student veteran will not be paid for the interval from Dec. 20 to Jan. 15; this provision will enable veterans to use more of their educational and VR&E benefits directly for training purposes.
To apply for, or learn more information about, VR & E benefits, veterans may call (800) 827-1000, go to www.va.gov and fill out an online application, or complete VA Form 28-1900 (Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation), and submit it to the nearest VA regional office. For more information, click here.