Military students have choice between G.I. bills

Military students have choice between G.I. bills

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College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

By Steve Koehler

Military veterans entering college now have an additional choice when it comes to financing their education.

The new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which went into effect Aug. 1, offers new financial aid options to veterans who joined the military after Sept. 11, 2001.

Both the new bill and the longstanding Montgomery G.I. Bill, which post-9/11 veterans also are eligible for, make money available for college.

But the two bills are drastically difference in the amount of money offered and the way it is distributed.

Veterans must pick which bill they want to use for financing their education and once they choose, they can’t change their mind, according to the new bill’s guidelines.

Judy Chaplin, VA certifying official at Ozarks Technical Community College, said veterans should study the options carefully because there are advantages to staying with Montgomery G.I. Bill and not using the Post-9/11 version.

“Veterans are not required to take the new plan,” Chapin said.

Here are the major differences between the two bills:

• Under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, veterans receive a monthly check of $1,321directly, no matter what the cost of a college education. Veterans must pay all their expenses from that check and can keep any money leftover

•Under the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Veteran’s Administration pays the entire tuition bill directly to the college, Veterans also receive a $1,000 annual book allowance and a monthly housing allowance based on where the veteran attends school. For this area, the allowance is $910 a month.

Chaplin said many veterans attending OTC and any other Missouri colleges are eligible for the Missouri Returning Heroes tuition reduction that caps all tuition at $50 per credit hour.

Under the old G.I. Bill, veterans can keep the difference left after paying the $50 rate.

Under the new G.I. Bill, the government pays the college and the reduced tuition rate is not applied.  Also, under the new bill, there is no housing allowance given for those taking online courses. Veterans must take at least one seated class.

One advantage of the new bill is the ability of veterans to transfer the education benefits to their spouse or child. Under the old bill, that’s not allowed.

Chaplin said that while she is prohibited in making recommendations to veterans on what bill to choose, she said she is advising veterans who contact her to study their options carefully before making their choice.

“Once you choose, you can’t change your mind. The choice is irrevocable,” Chaplin said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.