Washington, DC—The United States Senate unanimously passed legislation last night to allow the use of education benefits under the GI bill for non-degree vocational and training programs. The modification, which was cosponsored by Senators Jim Risch and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), brings the Post-9/11 GI bill in line with prior versions of the law allowing veterans to use their benefits in a wider variety of education programs.
“This change is about flexibility. Non-degree vocational and training programs provide another option for our service men and women to develop the skills they need to make a living. They have earned these benefits and deserve the freedom to use them how they choose,” said Risch.
“The education benefits earned through the selfless service of our men and women in uniform should be structured in a manner that can best meet their specific needs,” Lincoln said. “Since World War II, GI Bill benefits have been essential to ensuring our service members and veterans can pursue an education or gain the additional skills they need; however, we should not limit the use of these benefits solely to pursuing degree programs at traditional universities. This bill will ensure that our service members and veterans can use their GI benefits more flexibly to develop skills that are critical to our workforce and our economy, in important trades like construction, aviation maintenance, certain medical programs, and other vocational and technical training.”
Several non-degree schools throughout Idaho will benefit from the legislation including the Pro-Weld Welding School in Nampa; the Idaho Real Estate School in Boise; Northwest Lineman Academy in Meridian; the School of Hairstyling in Chubbuck; Professional Truck Driving School in Twin Falls and Sage Technical Services Trucking Schools in Coeur d'Alene, Caldwell and Blackfoot.
The modification adds no additional costs to the GI bill.
To qualify for full-tuition benefits under the post-9/11 GI bill, individuals must have at least 3 years of active duty military service. Various percentages of benefits are provided for those serving anywhere from 90 days (excluding entry level and skill training) to 3 years of active duty military service. All recipients must have an honorable or other qualifying discharge from service. Those who suffer service-connected disabilities after more than 30 days of service are also eligible for full benefits.