Analyst in Education Policy
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), previously named the Veterans Administration, has been providing veterans educational assistance (GI Bill) benefits since 1944. The benefits have been intended, at various times, to compensate for compulsory service, encourage voluntary service, avoid unemployment, provide equitable benefits to all who served, and promote military retention. In general, the benefits provide grant aid to eligible individuals enrolled in approved educational and training programs. Since three of the GI Bills have overlapping eligibility requirements and the United States is expected to wind down involvement in active conflicts, Congress may consider phasing out one or more of the overlapping programs.
This report describes the GI Bills enacted prior to 2008. Although participation in the programs has ended or is declining, the programs’ evolution and provisions inform current policy. The Post- 9/11 GI Bill (Title 38 U.S.C., Chapter 33), enacted in 2008, is described along with potential program issues in CRS Report R42755, The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill): Primer and Issues, by Cassandria Dortch.
This report provides a description of the eligibility requirements, eligible programs of education, benefit availability, and benefits. The report also provides some summary statistics, comparisons between the programs (see Table 2), and brief discussions of related programs. Individuals currently participate in five GI Bills enacted prior to 2008:
- The most popular program prior to the Post-9/11 GI Bill was the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD), which provides a monthly allowance primarily to veterans and servicemembers who enter active duty after June 30, 1985.
- The Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) provides a lower monthly allowance than the MGIB-AD to reservists who enlist, re-enlist, or extend an enlistment after June 30, 1985.
- The Reserves Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides a monthly allowance that is higher than the MGIB-SR but lower than the MGIB-AD to reservists with active duty service.
- The program with the fewest individuals receiving benefits is the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), which provides a monthly allowance to veterans who first entered active duty service on or after January 1, 1977, and before July 1, 1985.
- The dependents of individuals with military service may be eligible for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, which provides benefits to the spouse and children of servicemembers who, as a result of service, are seriously disabled, die, or are detained.
Other educational support is available to veterans using these benefits. Participants may also request academic and vocational counseling before and while using their GI Bill benefits. Participants on a growing number of pilot campuses have access to the VetSuccess on Campus program, which provides on campus counseling and referral services. In addition to counseling support, some participants may participate in the Veterans Work Study Program to receive additional financial assistance in exchange for work while attending school.
Date of Report: October 22, 2012
Number of Pages: 54
Order Number: R42785
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