G.I. Bills are a changing

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Posted Sun, May 1, 2011

The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act will impact MSCD's Veteran students and dependents.

DENVER — There are 850 students at Metropolitan State College of Denver who are about to have their lives impacted in a huge way. MSCD’s Veterans Services is doing what they can to minimize this impact. All veteran and veteran dependent students at Metro State have been mandated to attend a briefing on these upcoming changes, or risk having a hold placed on their account that may keep them from registering for classes next semester.

This briefing, however, will educate them on changes that will affect the benefits they receive from the G.I. Bill, and empower them to make the decisions necessary to ensure that they receive the most out of their G.I. Bill including stipend payments, certification reimbursement, kicker payments, and other benefits.

The briefing, hosted by the Veteran’s Service office at Auraria, covered these changes in depth. After an introduction to the briefing by Assistant Registrar Sonya Gonzalez covering the basics of what the briefing would touch on, Veterans Affairs Certifying Official Ted along with Janet Maestas, Veterans Services Supervisor, took the floor to present the changes in detail to beneficiaries. Afterwards, the floor was opened for questions from veterans and dependents to quell any concerns they might have or shed light on areas of confusion.

“They (Veterans Affairs) were trying to address the people who were left out prior, people who weren’t intended to be left out out the first time around,” said Maestas.” Every time you do something, you have to give something up moneywise, that’s the way congress does business.”

Most of these changes are going into effect on Aug. 1, 2011, with another handful of changes going into effect on Oct. 1, 2011. These changes include Basic Allowance for Housing stipends, a huge incentive of the Chapter 33 Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, being based on rate of pursuit as opposed to the all or none stipulation that that BAH is currently based off of. Beginning Aug. 1, 2011, for all chapters of the G.I. Bill, BAH will be based on the number of credit hours being taken, and will range from 50-100 percent in increments of 10, rounded to the nearest percentage.

Additionally, out of state tuition will no longer be supported, meaning that students must either attend a college in their home of record state, change their state of residency, or for some schools, provide a DD-214 form showing an honorable discharge to remain eligible for in-state tuition rates. Also, Vocational Rehab veteran students eligible for post 9/11 benefits will now receive the same BAH rates as their post 9/11 peers. Moreover, there will no longer be interval or break pay between semesters, kickers will no longer be paid in lump sums, the VA will now be the last payer for post 9/11 veterans, and private institution tuition will now be capped at $17,500 annually. Furthermore, changes effective as of Oct. 1, 2011, include post 9/11 students taking the entirety of their classes online being eligible for up to 50 percent BAH calculated in increments of 10 percent, and veterans may now take more than one licensing or certification and be reimbursed the costs after proof of successful completion is provided.

There are other, less noticeable changes taking place, but all legislation on these matters is continually changing. While these changes stem from the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act, some students who are losing benefits feel that they are being left out of these so called “improvements.”

“I feel like they are gonna keep picking away at our benefits until nothing is left,” said Kyle Starkey, a U.S. Navy veteran and student at Metro State, “Thank you Obama.”

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