Proposed GI Bill Fix Falls Short

When the original Post-9/11 GI Bill (let’s call it the beta version) was released, many of us noted some glaring problems, especially in the area of fairness. Last year Congress passed a fix (call it GI Bill 2.0) which was supposed to remove the inequities of the Post-9/11 GI Bill (beta version). But it didn’t take long to see that the fix will cause more harm to some vets than the original. In particular, the new $17,500 a year tuition cap, which could force currently enrolled veteran students to go deeper in debt to cover the higher tuition costs of some privately operated universities.

In an attempt to shield vets from possible financial hardship, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) has introduced a patch – H.R. 1383, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011(let’s call it GI Bill 2.1). H.R. 1383 will temporarily authorize the VA to cover the tuition and fees for veterans attending non-public education and training institutions that have tuition and fees which exceed $17,500 a year. This latest patch, which was called the “hold no harm” clause, was originally included in the House version of GI Bill 2.0, but didn’t make it to the final version.

The Trade-Off – Unfortunately, there is a catch, to pay for this fix the housing stipends will not increase with the basic allowance for housing rate (BAH)  for two years. This “pay as you go” budget requirement will not take away any benefits; it will simply freeze the housing stipends at their 2011 levels.

Miller’s bill is a step in the right direction; however, what about those students who are currently enrolled as non-residents in publicly-operated schools who will see their tuition payment limited to the in-state “resident” rates? They are exposed to as big a financial hit as vets enrolled in high-cost privately operated schools. Where is their “hold no harm” clause? Maybe in GI Bill 2.2?

Be sure to contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel about this bill or any other proposals that could improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

About the Author

Terry Howell
Before becoming the Managing Editor for, Terry served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate and aircrewman. In his final role in the Coast Guard, Terry served as a Career Development Advisor, where he provided career, finance, education, and benefits counseling to servicemembers and their families. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Terry has authored the book, The Military Advantage, managed the content for TurboTap, the DoD's online transition program and VAforVets, the VA's transition assistance website. Terry earned both his Bachelor's and MBA at Corban University using Military Tuition Assistance and his GI Bill benefits to help cover the cost.
  • Angela M

    Have we forgotten that our vets take care of us? When is ANYBODY gonna remember that?I’m glad I’m old and sick; cause when I was growing up the bad guys where VIET NAM vets, now all vets are getting it in the rear! I’m married to a Viet Nam vet whose still trying to get his, and I’m just Damn sick of VBA and everything to do with it! Veterans do all the sacrificing and come home to merde! It’s a sin and a shame the way vets are treated, I don’t care what your MOS is, you’re still getting lied to when inducted, and lied to when you get out. It’s no wonder that so many vets are homeless on the streets, they get their little money and don’t want anyone bothering them, they’ve been lied to enough. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

    • Maryanne K

      Angela you are so right about this! I, too, am a wife of a VIET Nam vet. and he was spit on @ theairport when he arrived home in 1971. There are still so many things that apparently happened over there that he cannot talk about. Folks don’t seem to understand that just because a war “ends” it’s not over in the minds of so many of our vets and their families. God Bless America and all the WONDERFUL men and women who have given so much for all of us.

      • Barby57

        OMG! I was spit on at the airport on my way home to Jonesboro, AR in the Memphis Airport in ’79. That took the shine off of my accomplishments for awhile. I finally figured out that it wasn’t me. It was just that I seemed to have gotten the brunt of something not within my control.

    • Barby57

      Hi Angela M,
      I am a 50% service connected vet, also retired, USN officer, 1100, 03E. August 31, 2011 I will be officially a homeless vet, unless some of my outreach turns into income. But I have ensured that two of my children will be able to attend college, one as a freshman, USC and the other as a first-year at Rutgers Law School. I am trying to get one of my client’s businesses global and trying to get two of my own businesses off the ground. But no matter what I do, I end up choosing between buying the stuff my soon to be SHS grad what she needs to have the “perfect” senior year and paying the credit card bill and hoping that I will have enough left over to buy my prescriptions.
      I am sorry your family is having such a tuff time. I don’t think shame will do any good. Why not just ask for accountability. Blame never got my anything other than broken dreams and bones.

  • j. terry

    I am active duty and plan on retiring in a few months after 23years of service. I have served in combat for the last 10 of those years in Iraq and Afg disposing IEDs. I am lucky to still be alive -while I am still here on this earth, I am ready to go to school full time and pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer. The school I have planned on attending for the last 5 years is private, but I would be able to attend with the current GI Bill “Beta” rules -as promised. Now that GI Bill 2.0 is coming out (the 2.1 fix won’t help me as I understand it), I am hearing that I will have to take on mounds of debt because it isn’t fair? This was promised to me. I think that if a student is accepted to a top notch university on the merits of the their academic record attending night school while active duty, they should be allowed to recieve the promised “beta” rates. It just so happens that as I prepare to retire and attend fall 2011 classes, this is when the new “benificial changes” go into effect. This defaults on what was promised and is wrong.

    • Ron

      Thanks for your service. I just retired myself. It is my understanding you will still receive the funds equivalent to the highest public in-state tutition where you are attending school in your private school. Additionally, some private schools have been identified as Yellow Ribbon Schools that work with the VA to become designated a military friendly school (there are some things they must adhere to like VA office, guidance counselor assistance, etc). Once identified as a Yellow Ribbon School the VA will match the Private school dollar for dollar to close the gap between the highest in state tutition cap and the cost of the Private University education. Drexel University is such a school so in the end, the Post GI Bill veteran does not spend a dime on tuition.

    • Barby57

      Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Chairman Marlin Stutzman (IN-03) have introduced in the Congress bill H.R. 1383, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 yesterday. H.R. 1383 will temporarily authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay tuition and fees on behalf of eligible veterans attending non-public education and training institutions under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, in an amount that is the greater of $17,500, or the maximum in-state rate for undergraduate tuition and fees.
      I hope you are going to MIT, although Rhode Island has a great EEE program.

    • Anne

      I’m in the same situation, I was accepted into a program in November 2010 when the post 9/11 beta version was in effect, then the post 9/11 2.0 was signed into law in January 2011. Since my classes don’t officially begin until August 1, 2011, I will be part of the post 9/11 2.0. I would have been covered for ~$24,000-36,000/year in the beta version but now will only be covered for $17,500/year in the 2.0 version. This new proposed bill for restoring GI bill fairness will not help me since I don’t fall into the category of a covered individual
      “Covered Individuals- An individual described in this subsection is an individual entitled to educational assistance under chapter 33 of title 38, United States Code, who, on or before April 1, 2011, was enrolled in a non-public institution of higher learning in a State” I pretty much will miss the cut off to be grandfathered into the beta version if this bill is passed by about 4 months! I think they should include people starting fall 2011 into the Bill to restore GI Bill fairness since many of us were accepted into programs prior Post 9/11 2.0

  • Ron

    If the “non-residents” are 100% Post 9/11 GI bill eligibl, they can use the Yellow Ribbon Program, providing their school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA. Otherwise, they are up the creek.


  • roy morris

    I am a medically retired Army vet. I was injured in Iraq in 2006 and discharged in 2007. I worked as a mechanic for about a year when I was discharged to support my wife and my son. When the post 9/11GI Bill was proposed to me, I was able to attend a private college in NY and was promised that tuition would be paid for including BAH for semester breaks. With this information, I quit my job and started attending college full time. It is very hard to work 40 hrs./week and attend full time college and expect to do well. Now that the gi bill is changing, my breaks won’t be paid for and I may have to finish my education elsewhere. What’s worse is that my old job isn’t looking to hire anymore. I don’t want more than what I was promised, I only want what was promised before I quit my job. If I don’t quit school and find a job before the August changes, I wont be able to pay my rent or feed my son during the breaks in between semesters. Nobody will hire me for 3weeks at a time. I feel a little betrayed, but that’s what I get for not having a back up plan where the gov. Plan fell through. Live and learn I guess. When I promised 5 years of loyal service, I held up my end of the bargain.

  • Speechless

    I truly do not understanding the complaint. The opportunity to attend most universities and pay nothing out of pocket and receive a stipend is incredible. I am a disabled Army Veteran of the Desert Storm/Shield and the daughter of a Vietnam Vet. I used the GI Bill which is less than half of what is being offered today to complete my degree. If you choose to attend a school whose tuition exceeds $17,000 a year you should pay the additional cost. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the economy isn’t doing too hot. State employees are being forced to take days off without pay, federal employees face the possibility of furlough and will not receive cost of living raises for 2 – 5 years and there’s legislation being introduced to cut funding of programs for homeless Veterans but GI Bill payments should be higher?

    • The thing is that when a country PROMISES you something, and they don’t deliver, it goes against the very principle of government. The government is here for us. While you honorably served your country back then and used the money they gave you, today that same bill just doesn’t cut it. The price of tuition has gone from expensive to incredibly expensive. Not to mention, here is the main point. Those people that get accepted to a prestigious university because of their academic achievements, it is wise for the government to help those people to the fullest extent. It is those people who will get the best jobs. Later on down the road, they will undoubtedly pay back everything the government gave them in taxes. I am one of those people who want to go to a good university. I am a 4.0 student currently since I have started attending school, and am in my schools honor society for academic excellence. I still maintain the highest degree of honor and integrity in my daily life that I had in the service. The least the government can do is give me the funds for my education like they promised. I’ll do the rest and continue excelling in my academic adventures.

      • Cpl Bart

        They least the government can do is give you an emblem and teach you how to serve your fellow man. And after 4 or 20 years of doing that, the least they can do is shake your hand, say thanks and send you on your way, which is exactly what the government used to do. Now, vets are provided with more help than ever before, and the majority of us don’t appreciate it.

        I work in a public school VA office where 10% of the student veterans, like yourself, Stephen, actually give a damn about their education. 10% work hard to transfer and earn their degree. But the sad truth is that 90% of us (and myself included, I might have to admit) are only here for the money. We are attracted to school because we are one of very few groups of people who can immediately profit from school.

        The GI Bill is awesome, but this feeling of “entitlement” is a load of BS. You are entitled to you rank. I am entitled an eagle, globe and anchor. Anything more is just frosting on the cake, and I’m sorry if your recruiter lied to you.

        Maybe we should stop blaming the government for not providing us with everything we need and want. Maybe, instead, we should try to hep our school systems become less expensive. Maybe we should take care of our grandparents so that they don’t have to rely on Social Security. Maybe we should try thinking about the betterment of our society before the betterment of our own bank account.

        Or maybe we should just complain ’til we get what we want.


    • DuBois

      The issue is changing the benefits package after many of us have already begun our studies at Universities the were covered under the first version and not in the second. I based all of mu post-retirement plans off of the promised benefits of the original plan and OPTED in to the plan. I gave up my Montgomery GI Bill that I paid into for the promised benefits of the 9-11. Then they change the rules mid way through my education? I’m sorry your plan wasn’t as robust as ours, but how would you have felt if they cut your benefits in half while you were going to school ? This patch is a good thing.
      MSG(R) DuBois

    • concerned vet

      as a veteran and a man of intellect, reason and understanding of things you unfortunately, never will. all veterans should receive a free ride to any university and have all living expenses paid for while attaining an education. masses of money beyond comprehension were accumulated during this war who should profit from that, a small group of elites and businessmen or the soldiers? if you dont believe me do some research on Halliburton.

  • roy

    For someone who is speechless, you have a lot to say. If someone is promised a certain opportunity and in order to take advantage, he/she will have to forfeit their current job, the opportunity needs to be fulfilled. Otherwise, it is not an opportunity, it feels more like getting screwed.

  • Speechless

    We are forced to pay Social Security so that the elderly can retire with the promise it will be there when we retire. Doesn’t look like the government will be keeping that promise either and that affects many more people. Yes it sucks! But for the government to keep handing out money it doesn’t have is irresponsible and the reason the economy is a mess.

  • Grace

    Those vets whoh served and are elgibile for 100% of the new GI Bill still can’t transfer those benefits to the dependents. Why? At 100% they should be able to transfer their benefits to their spouse or unmarried dependents under the age of 26. Why are they being denied the right to do so?

  • eww

    I remember the huge rip-offs by for profit diploma mills in the Vietnam era VA education program. Anybody remember how George Shinn made his millions? How is this current program addressing that risk?

  • Dave in Calif

    Crimany, some of y’all are sounding like democrats, where is mine, oh where is mine…me, me, me…When I got back from nam I had a family to support so I worked, then started night school, yep got GI bill for several years and went to a community college, way less expensive, then….20 years later I figured out how to go to a day time university, transferred my community college classes [wife and I foot the bill(s) on this venture] and finished up 2000 with my masters. No whining just work. Where there is will, there is a way. However, that being said, I feel for you, hang in fellow vets!

    • guest

      Not everyone wants to spend two to three decades finishing school, Dave.

    • Barby57

      Spoken like a truly honorable Republican. I just love you guys! I just wish you could extend some empathy instead of sympathy. We are all sacrificing here.

  • Joey


    As like the others mentioned, your good!

    I’m currently attending Embry-Riddle University.

    FL. 1 class is $1300… fl caps out at $880, yellow ribbon from

    The school picks up $210 and va Picks up the other$210.

    • Aron Bechiom

      Flight training included in your degree?? Running into any issues with that??

  • I don’t know about everyone else, but as far as our vets and their families are concerned I don’t think we can give them enough!!!! If there is more to give then it should be given!!!!!! I don’t think it’s entitlement issues and don’t think people are “whining” I think they’re voicing opinions on how to make things even better for our vets. That being said, I’m gonna “whine” and “beg for more” right now. The VA education benefit cap needs to be addressed. Right now it’s 48 months of benefits regardless of how many “Bills” the veterans’ service qualifies them for they can only get benefits for 48 months total. This means even under the POST 9/11 bill (which required service after 9/11) can not be used/transferred to a dependent if a veteran/soldier used the Montgomery GI Bill for his own education. What good is a transferable bill if it can’t be used for the full 48 months to provide benefits? I say if the soldier had to serve a certain mission/time of service to qualify for the benefit then it needs to start over so it can be effective and beneficial to his family. Never forget the families of vets sacrifice a lot too.

  • Alan Monte de Ramos

    The post 911 GI bill allows active duty personnel to transfer their benifits to their dependent but those who have seperated and are not on active duty dont have that option. Those that have served and were put on stop lose that were not enrolled in the GI Bill what so ever but are elgible under the post 911 GI bill dont have the same options as those on active duty that still have the normal GI Bill and can use the Post 911 GI bill for there dependent while using their GI Bill to go to school themselves. Something doesnt fell right about that. What I read was this was used as an incentive to keep those personnel on active duty. Where is the fairness in this didnt we all fight the same war. Now it seems that we have to fight congress to make things right when it was them that screwed it up in the first place.

  • taskforcesmith

    Well Put Ron. BAH did cover for breaks up until this coming August that is. Now students will not be aid between the semesters. I see their concern as many did stop working to go to school full time now they are in a crunch as I also do not believe it is fair. But they just need to sit down and do a budget and figure out if it is possible to do a student loan or so forth to cover those weeks. Good luck everyone and I pray you do see the government is helping you a great deal, I know promises are promises but havent you ever revised a promise after you saw the impact??

  • Spec4Brite

    At least y’all are getting GI Bill benefits… They lost my PAYMENTS into my GI Bill, so I never got to use it. And the VA? Oh… I’m not disabled enough…

    • Retro

      I also paid into the Montgomery GI Bill and can’t use it. My husband is a disabled retired veteran and isn’t considered disabled enough either. For spouses or dependents of disabled veterans to get benefits through the VA (according to their education benefits site) the veteran has to be 90% or more disabled. Yet my husband has a combat injury. He is 50% disabled currently (with his back rapidly degenerating it may be more come re-evaluation) and yet he’s not disabled enough. How much do our service members need to sacrifice for them to get back some sort of appreciation for service? My husband was INVOLUNTARILY retired by the Navy, basically they were going to discharge him one way or another. And he wanted to be career.

  • barbara

    Can anyone tell me where I stand. My husband is eleigible under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He served 18 months in Iraq, and is deploying again in ovember to Afghanistan. He is due to retire in 2012. Can he transfer the benefits to my daughter who starts college in the Fall without signing on for another year or 3 years ??? I cannot get a human voice anywhere to answer this question.
    Thanks for any information you can give me.

    • DuBois

      Since he is due to retire, I think he meets the minimum time in service. I transfered benefits to my wife and daughter before I retired at 20 years.

    • hope this helps

      The best advice I would give you would be to see your county’s Veterans Service Officer. They are usually located in the county offices or maybe the county courthouse. If you cant find them there, you can always call up the local rep from VFW, or any other veterans orginization

  • Randy Owen

    I don’t know the exact figures, but my VEAP I received for service from 80 to 84 was only 8100.00. It covered 48 months, period. (I did get 900 more through Montgomery GI bill, for additional time in national guard) All I can say is, state universities teach the same things the private ones do, so why go to the expensive one? And don’t forget, (something my HS councilor forgot to mention) it is possible to attend college with pell grants, work study, SEOG, subsidized loans, and Scholarships. Also Americorps can help.
    My nephew is attending somewhere on post 9/11 and I think he spent more time in college then me.

    • David

      So true, too many of us think that because we pay more, we get more. I say that if a person to go to a private school, they should pay the diff.
      I served over 20 years in the army and it pisses me off that some people think that this country owes them a gold mine because they served. Be thankful.

  • Gray

    When will someone address the retraining/reeducation needs of older Vet’s! I didn’t use my GI Bill (HDischarge Nov 1977) and now that I need to get reeducated so that I can still compete in the job market, I don’t get squat. I’m not alone… I share this plight with many Vet’s who went to work right after their discharge from active duty and had to support a family so never got around to using their education benefit! If we serve, why can’t we decide when to use our ten years of education benefits? Why are we penalized for working our A$$ off when we get out and then again when technology exceeds our training and we have to go back to school to match our knowledge with the job criteria? We served our country to ensure their freedoms but our country doesn’t want to give us the freedom to decide when we need use our GI Education Benefit! It is WRONG and this is what should be drafted into one of these Bills!

    • Les CVSO

      Gray, Most of the time 10 years after discharge is plenty of time to make a decision. Your should check into seeing if you can qualify for VA benefits. Talk to you local county veterans service officer. There are programs available to assist you. There is also a VA program at many colleges called UPWARD BOUND that helps veterans prepare for going back to college & updating skills. You can also go to the State Job Service and talk to a Veterans Employment Counselor. They too have many programs designed specifically for veterans to update their skills..

  • Nograduation

    I was told I could use mine, come to find out 30 years later I could have. I was given the wrong information and I have lost all educational benefits. I was njured in service before finishing boot camp because of a Medical Staff Sergent orders, and lack of logic, and her medical training (lack of it). Then she told me I wasn’t eligible for anything. There is so much wrong information given to the veterans. When one tries to correct information they are told can’t be corrected. Even with proof!!!!

  • Karl

    I just recently tried to use my Montgomery GI bill. I was told it was only good to use 10 years after my ETS date… Which was in 1993… so in 2003 when I too needed a College education to keep up with Technology in it was not available to me. Today I finally committed to a 2-4 year college run, and tried one more time to use the GI Bill. And gain in Dec 2010 I was told the same thing. I should have used it before 2003..

    • Recce1

      Kari, I understand your frustration. I retired in 1988. From the time I enlisted in 1967 to the year before my retirement I was told to use the tuition assistance program for courses the government preferred and then us the VA Education benefits after I retired for what I wanted.

      But then the year before I retired the program was changed so that the 10 year benefit was reduced to 1 year after retirement. Due to other broken promises such as a low VA Home Mortgage loans, free medical and dental care for me and my dependents, and VA preferences in government jobs I can’t in good conscience recommend serving in the military as I believe the politicians will never keep their promises to servicemen and women and vets, particularly disabled vets.

  • Michael

    The ten year deal was brought in with no anoucement to rob vets of something they earned,if I was told when I entered the was a time limited I would not have reenlisted,when I got out my priority was to feed and house my family.I did get my degree but paid for it myself,the government in general only cares while you are serving,once you get out you get half bake medical and all the crumbs they do not want!! Mean while they get every first class benfit I say let them fight their wars and you’ll see has fast that tune changes! Were is the VFW and DVA on this giving a award to the president for robbing us of our benfits!!!

  • Air Force Nurse

    As it stands today, there is a maximum of 48 months of benefits at the full time rate total. Well I say that needs to be changed. I say a Bill needs to be passed adding an additional 12 months of benefits to all eligible parties. It is only fair I think. 60 months of benefits is what I ask for.

  • Drew ex-navy

    You know what…. I think that if you whine…. you don’t deserve it! Yes, I agree that congress shouldn’t be able to chnage the rules right in the middle of it all, but if you go to your school and ask them what they can do it helps. I have friends that work to pay for their school and some even with kids of their own. Nobody said bettering yourself was easy or cheap. So take the lumps and dust yourself off. Then make sure you find the right person, ask the tough questions, and do it with a smile cause life is too short.

  • Cpl Bart

    We’re lucky we get anything.

    It’s too bad that for as much time as the military invests in survival and self-sufficiency training, most veterans are more concerned with trying to milk the system dry than they are with trying to use the skills they were taught.

    Iraq Vet

  • CPT Russell Kirby

    I started out with a Bachelors degree when I enlisted. When I became an officer I completed my Masters of Science degree in 111 days, working 2 days a week and taking 5 graduate courses at once for two semesters. It only cost me $11,000 out of my own pocket. I’m still paying for it after retirement. It’s like going into a gambling casino they (the Army) always come out way ahead. Give the rest of my GI Bill to someone that can use it.

    CPT Kirby

    • CPT Russell Kirby

      Just like the Majors board, I’m the wrong color,white.

  • Fortune Flores

    You guys need to know that us older vets have to borrow loads of money just to go to school and run up a huge debt. The unfairness of it all is the 10 year cutoff date to use it. I volunteered during the Vietnam War and could have been injured or worse. I tell you it sucks….period!

  • army VET 19k

    I had to transfer school because of the changes, they paid all at my old schoola year later they changed it so i had to paid 2,000 out of pocket. i know thats good for most but i joined the army so that they would pay for all of college.