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GI Bill Changes Are Coming in 2021

Congress has passed legislation making several changes to benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and sent it to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

The legislation, known as the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020, makes several changes to existing benefit programs.

Here are some of the important changes coming to your GI Bill benefits for 2021.

John J. Fry Scholarship

The John J Fry Scholarship program will be expanded to include the surviving spouses or children of reservists or National Guard members who died as a result of their service, either in the line-of-duty or as a result of service-connected injuries or illness.

Previously, survivors or reservists or Guard members were eligible only if the service member’s death was related to active-duty service.

Montgomery GI Bill

The VA will finally pull the plug on the Montgomery GI Bill. The program, which requires military members to contribute $1,200 of their pay, is scheduled to go away beginning in 2030. In 2019, only around 22,000 military members and veterans used the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty program, which pays substantially less in benefits than the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which had more than 714,000 participants in 2019.

In-State Tuition

Beginning Aug. 1, 2021, public schools will be required to charge all GI Bill recipients the in-state tuition rate for classes. This change will remove the current restriction that requires schools to charge in-state tuition only for GI Bill recipients within three years of their discharge date.

Now, all veterans and dependents using transferred GI Bill benefits will be charged in-state tuition, regardless of when the veteran left service.

Post-9/11 GI Bill Certification of Attendance

Also beginning Aug. 1, 2021, all Post-9/11 GI Bill and Fry Scholarship users will be required to certify their attendance to the VA before they receive payment. GI Bill users will be able to visit a VA website and certify their attendance online. If they don’t certify their attendance to the VA for two months in a row, their Monthly Housing Allowance payments will end.

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Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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