Cuesta’s Veterans Services office in room 3174.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Lozano
By Asa Mason
Cuesta student veterans will soon be able to take advantage of recently passed legislation giving veterans an indefinite amount of time to use their G.I. bill benefits.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017, informally known as the “Forever GI Bill,” allows veterans discharged on or after Jan. 2013 an unlimited window of time to use their benefits — overturning previous legislation giving veterans 15 year time limit.
President Donald Trump in August signed an updated version of the bill after the bipartisan legislation swiftly made it out of both chambers of Congress.
The Forever GI Bill offers significant tuition assistance to student veterans.
Payments vary depending on how long a veteran served active duty, how many credits he or she is taking, and the type of college attending.
The bill will cover tuition for most public colleges, although students must take classes required by their major.
Veterans who were discharged before January 2013 will have a reduced window to take advantage of their benefits — they will now have 36 months, reduced from 48 months.
Authors of the bill believe this shortened window will help veterans stay focused knowing that their benefits will not last for very long.
The expansion offered by the Forever GI Bill emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math degrees by offering additional money to veterans enrolled in those programs.
Veterans would have to apply for a specific STEM scholarship, and could get either nine months of additional benefits or a lump sum of $30,000 effective Aug. 2019.
Since 2009, more than 350,000 veterans have earned postsecondary certificates and degrees through the GI Bill.