by Bradley Hood
As of the time I am writing this, there are only a few days left to apply for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). Because I am not eligible to use VRAP, I was not aware of this program until now, and I regret that I did not get a chance to write on it earlier. This is an excellent opportunity for veterans who are eligible, and provides 12 months of training for unemployed veterans. Out of 141,493 applications received by the VA, 123,186 of them were approved to enroll in training with payment up to $1,648 per month. However, VRAP is not available to service members who are eligible for another VA benefit, so the group of individuals who can use this is small – still, if you do not have the GI Bill, this offers an opportunity to get the training needed to advance your career. The eligibility requirements are as follows:
1. At least 35 years old, but no older than 60.
2. Unemployed on the date of application to the VA
3. Received an other than dishonorable discharge
4. Not eligible for any other VA education benefit
5. Not receiving VA compensation for unemployability
6. Not enrolled in federal or state job training
These requirements significantly narrow the group of individuals who can use this benefit, but offers 12 months of education assistance equal to the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill to veterans who are not eligible for that benefit. VRAP must be used to train for a high demand occupation, and lead to an Associate Degree, Certificate, or a non-degree training program completion. The deadline to apply is October 1st. This benefit is currently set to expire, but there has been some interest in Congress in extending it further, so if you are eligible but miss this chance to apply, there may be another opportunity in the future – but with the government budget as it is, there are no guarantees. For more information, go to http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm.