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Montgomery G.I. Bill
This is a personal note from me to about 42,000 active duty and retired soldiers who currently do not have benefits under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, due to being left out during the last VEAP to G.I. Bill conversion. You and I are in the same boat, so to speak.
Years ago, a benefit called the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) was considered the hottest thing going for soldiers. Unfortunately it wasn't. Many of us were advised that our money would be better invested in other ways to enable us to pursue our educational goals. We subsequently withdrew our money from our VEAP accounts, which left us with a $0.00 balance. Sound familiar? Read on........ For many years, Congressmen, Senators, many Military Support Organizations, and others have worked to allow us the opportunity to convert. Well, thanks to their persistence, we've won. The sad thing is that this happened at the end of October last year (2000), but there are still many of you who are unaware of what this new public law means for us. In short, you need to act to convert your VEAP by October 31st, 2001. I am including some links (which you'll also find on my "Education" page) and the text of some messages that counselors from Army Education Centers have graciously provided to me. Please check this information closely! If you decide to convert, be sure of your decision, since it is final.
Let me put the bottom line up front on what it is going to cost you. You will have to pay $2,700.00 to convert. That number is derived from the maximum amount which was allowed to be paid into VEAP. Yes, it's substantially more than the $1,200.00 which new soldiers pay for the G.I. Bill, but you will likely find that it is very beneficial to convert. You can pay lump sum or have the money taken out month by month from your pay, but you only have 18 months to pay $2,700.00. Also, you can't use the GI Bill benefits until the full amount is paid. There are pros and cons which affect your decision, so please be sure to read everything here and check out the links provided before you make up your mind.
G.I. Bill Express....This site is jam packed with information about the G.I. Bill..... all laid out in an easy to read format that helps you to quickly find out about your benefits. There's also a bonus job search function. Enjoy...........
G.I.Bill WebSite sponsored by Dept of Veteran's Affairs....You've heard about the G.I. Bill, you're signed up for it, but what do you do now? This site is the place to go to learn the in's, out's, and how to's of your G.I. Bill benefits.........
G.I.Bill WebSite (Interim Update info)This link takes you inside the G.I. Bill WebSite listed directly above. I've included it since it has a significant amount of information consolidated on one page. Definitely a good reference document.........
The following information was provided to me by education counselors. It's great stuff and I cannot take the credit, but I wanted to pass it on to you. Please be sure you check with your Education Center for more details. The portion which immediately follows should help you determine if it is financially feasible to convert to the Montgomery GI Bill.
To Convert or Not To Convert
Some soldiers may not benefit from enrolling in the MGIB under the provisions of PL 106-419. Each soldier must make an informed decision. Army Education Center counselors help soldiers make informed decisions on transferring from VEAP to MGIB.
The most common situation will be those soldiers who plan to use all their educational benefits prior to separation. In-service use of VEAP versus MGIB is different. Under VEAP, the soldier will receive their entire rate including the ACF.
EXAMPLE A: Soldier has basic VEAP ($8,100) posted at a $100 month for 27 months. He also has the 4 year, $18,300, Army College Fund (ACF) kicker. Total account is $26,400. This amount divided by 27 equals approximately $977 monthly. If the soldier is going to school full-time for 5 months, and the cost of the course is $1,200, under VEAP, he will receive $4,885 ($977 x 5).
EXAMPLE B: Same soldier elects the MGIB ($23,400). With the ACF ($18,300), the total benefit is $41, 700 ($1,158 per month for 36 months). Obviously, this is a much more lucrative program than the example above. However under MGIB, the rules for in-service use of benefits are different. Under MGIB, soldier will receive the cost of the course or the rate as a veteran, whichever is less. Since the cost of the course above is $1200, and the soldier will be attending for 5 months, he will receive $240 a month--far less than the $1,158 he would receive as a veteran, or the $977 he would receive under VEAP for in-service use. If this soldier planned to complete the majority of his education prior to leaving active duty, then he would benefit monetarily by remaining in VEAP.
EXAMPLE C: Continuing the examples above, let's assume the course cost $10,000. Soldier's rate under VEAP would be $977, and his rate under MGIB would be $1,158. Since the MGIB rule is cost of the course or rate as a veteran, this soldier would receive the rate as a veteran ($1,158 x 5 months - $5,790), because it is less than the cost of the course ($10,000). In this case, the soldier should elect the MGIB. When comparing the two programs in this case, the soldier should select the MGIB because it would pay $181 more per month than if he remained in VEAP.
It will be difficult to counsel soldiers unless they can tell you all the variables of their particular situation. In most cases, this information will not be readily available. It should be sufficient to inform soldiers of how each program operates, and let them decide which program is more beneficial for them. WARNING: The decision to enroll in MGIB is irreversible; payment is not refundable.
MEMORANDUM FOR SEE DISTRIBUTION
SUBJECT: Implementation of Section 104, Public Law 106-419--Opportunity for Certain Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) Participants to Enroll in Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
a. Public Law 106-419, Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000.
b. Title 38, Chapter 30, Montgomery GI Bill (All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program), Section 3018C.
2. This provides administrative guidance and assigns responsibility for enrollment into the MGIB for certain VEAP-era active duty soldiers (Encl 1). It is the intent of Congress that any servicemember (enlisted or officer) meeting the criteria below be offered the opportunity to receive MGIB.
a. To be eligible a soldier must:
(1) Serve continuously on active duty from 9 Oct 96 through 1 Apr 00.
(2) Be a VEAP participant on 9 Oct 96. Participants are defined as servicemembers who opened a VEAP account; participants do not have to have contributions remaining in the account to be eligible under this law.
(3) Before applying for benefits, have completed requirements for a secondary school diploma (or equivalency certificate) or have successfully completed the equivalent of 12 semester hours in a program of education leading to a standard college degree.
(4) Make an irrevocable decision to enroll in the MGIB no later than 31 Oct 01 by signing DD Form 2366 (Encl 2).
(5) Make a lump sum payment of $2700, or have $2700 reduced from pay.
b. This program is open to all USMA (service academy) and ROTC scholarship graduates, Section 903, (FY79 Incentive Test Program), Enlistment Bonus, and Loan Repayment Program participants who meet eligibility in paragraph 3a above. NOTE: Section 901 recipients are not eligible under the provisions of this law.
c. Reserve/Guard members serving on active duty may be eligible. Any questions concerning those soldiers must be referred to their respective MGIB points of contact (Encl 3).
a. A soldier may select one of the following methods of payment:
(1) Lump sum payment of $2700. This is the preferred method of payment. Lump sum payment must be made NLT 18 months after DD Form 2366 is signed.
(2) Pay reduction. Soldier must contact local finance to coordinate the amount of pay reduction. Although the payroll reduction is non-refundable, it will reduce the soldier's taxable income. The total of $2700 must be paid within 18 months after the DD Form 2366 is signed. If the total payroll reduction is less than $2700 after 18 months, the soldier will lose all benefits, and any money contributed will not be refunded.
(3) Soldiers may combine pay reduction and lump sum options to ensure the $2700 is paid within the required 18 months. The law does not authorize any exceptions to the 18 month time period to pay the $2700. No refunds are authorized under the law.
(4) NOTE: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires the full payment prior to authorizing benefits under MGIB. The VA will not authorize benefits to any individual while the $2700 is being reduced from pay. At the completion of the payroll reduction, the VA will pay benefits retroactive to date of election. To avoid this delay in establishing eligibility lump sum is preferred method of payment.
b. Counselors must advise soldiers that they will have no educational benefits available from the date of their completed DD Form 2366 until the $2700 has been paid in full. An individual has 18 months from the date of the DD Form 2366 to complete a full payment of $2700.
c. The local Finance and Accounting Office (FAO) will be responsible for processing the individual's request for payroll reduction and request for lump sum.
d. Policy and administrative guidance for local finance offices and associated requirements will be distributed by DFAS, Indianapolis through FAO channels.
e. It is imperative that the soldier understands the necessity to retain copies of the DD Form 2366 and proof of payment (LES, DD Form 1131). This is necessary to resolve any discrepancies at a later date. This will be the soldier's only evidence of eligibility. No other copies will be available through the VA or EICB. Individuals may have to provide copies of these documents to the VA or to EICB if eligibility questions arise.
5. Soldiers' VEAP Accounts.
a. After signing the DD Form 2366, soldiers who currently have allotments going into their VEAP accounts must visit the servicing FAO to stop allotments. Soldiers who have contributions remaining in their VEAP accounts must ensure the finance officer signs Part III, VA Form 5281, before it is forwarded to the VARO for a VEAP refund.
b. Soldiers who have zero balances in their VEAP accounts will have no education benefits from the date the DD Form 2366 is signed until the $2700 has been paid in full. The DD Form 2366 must be signed no later than 31 Oct 01 and the 18 months to pay starts the day the DD Form 2366 is signed.
a. Eligible soldiers will be entitled to receive 36 months of full-time benefits, provided they have not used more than 12 months of benefits under VEAP.
b. Any VEAP benefits used greater than 12 months will be reduced from the 36 month entitlement. EXAMPLE: If a soldier used 16 months under VEAP, he would have 32 months under MGIB. Public Law states an individual cannot use more than 48 months between any two programs. Soldier's original 16 months used under VEAP are subtracted from 48, leaving 32 months. Since the maximum benefit under MGIB is 36 months, a soldier can use up to 12 months under VEAP with no affect on MGIB.
c. Soldiers must look at their educational goals and understand that they would need to use five months of full-time MGIB benefits to make this conversion worthwhile. (See Counseling Checklist [Encl 4] and Counseling Examples [Encl 5] for specific examples). Since the election to convert is irrevocable and the payments are nonrefundable, soldiers must ensure their decision to convert is cautiously made.
7. Army Education Center (AEC) guidance counselors are responsible for enrolling interested soldiers into MGIB, assisting with completion of required forms, and documenting receipt of counseling indicating whether soldier enrolled, declined, or took no action. A soldier's election not to participate is not required; therefore the soldier is not required to sign DD Form 2366 declining this opportunity. This soldier remains enrolled in VEAP. Administrative procedures are at Encl 1. A Counseling Checklist is at Encl 4. Also included at Encl 6 are addresses for VA Regional Processing Offices.
8. Point of contact for this action is Mrs. Martha Mraz, E-Mail: email@example.com,
L. DIAN STOSKOPF
Chief, Education Division
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES FOR COUNSELING SOLDIERS
ELECTING THE MONTGOMERY GI BILL
IN ACCORDANCE WITH PL 106-419
1. SOLDIER NOTIFICATION PROCESS:
a. Soldier notification began with messages issued by HQDA and PERSCOM. There will also be messages on Leave and Earnings Statements. Although unofficial, Army Times will also run multiple articles during the enrollment period.
b. Retirees and separatees will be working directly with the VA. Education Incentives and Counseling Branch (EICB), PERSCOM, will post a list of eligible active duty VEAP participants on the ACES ExtraNet.
(1) Eligible veterans who separated after 1 Apr 00, but before official implementation instructions were issued, will receive notification letters from the VA. The letter will provide the instructions listed below:
(a) The notification letter will provide basic eligibility information for this law. If additional information is required, they will be directed to their nearest VA office.
(b) Veterans will be provided with an election form to complete and forward to the VA no later than 31 Oct 01. If the veteran elects to enroll in the MGIB, he/she must disenroll from VEAP. The notification letter will outline VEAP disenrollment procedures. The $2700 reduction required for the MGIB may be withheld from their VEAP refund if they have sufficient funds in their account. Otherwise, a cashier's check or money order payable to "U.S. Treasury" must accompany individual's election form.
(c) Upon request from the individual, the VA will provide information concerning the application process for receiving benefits under the MGIB.
(2) Active duty soldiers (enlisted and officer): Official lists will be posted on the ACES ExtraNet. This list is the only acceptable tool provided to Army Education Centers (AEC) to determine eligibility. If any soldier does not receive official notification and he/she believes they meet the eligibility criteria, they are instructed to submit a memorandum to EICB, PERSCOM (see Counseling Checklist, para 2e). Individual must include documentary evidence of proof of eligibility.
2. AEC ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES:
a. The Counseling Checklist (Encl 4 to memo) was developed for the counselor's use in processing eligible soldiers. Recommend the soldier be provided a copy of this checklist for future reference. Examples of cases where eligible VEAP soldiers may not desire to enroll in the MGIB are at Encl 5 to memo.
b. HQDA authority is granted to use reproduced copies of the DD Form 2366 (Encl 2 to memo), revised for Public Law 106-419. Do not alter this form in any additional way.
c. Soldier elections to enroll: On a weekly or monthly basis, Education Centers will forward via email to EICB the following information: name, full SSN, and if soldier accepts and the date DD Form 2366 was signed. Please email to either firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com. EICB will acknowledge receipt of e-mail and update the MGIB database. This is a new procedure. AECs will not forward paper documents or DA Form 200 to EICB.
d. DD Form 2366 (electing enrollment in MGIB) must be made a part of the service record to preclude discrepancies with the VA. Procedures for filing documents to the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) are described in AR 621-202, Army Educational Incentives and Entitlements. Records clerks at Personnel Services Centers can assist soldiers with filing DD Form 2366 in the OMPF. If soldiers are within 30 days of separation and their personnel records have been transferred to the Transition Point/Activity (TP/A), give that copy to the soldier. The Army Education Center file copy should be retained in a suspense file for three years. This is a change in procedure. With the transition to electronic personnel records, DA Form 669 is no longer retained in the permanent service record after a soldier's transition from active duty.
e. Coordinate with the local FAO to establish specific points of contact to refer soldiers for $2700 reduction-in-pay, lump-sum payments, cash collection actions, and VEAP-related actions. It is very important to ensure that all phases of MGIB enrollment processing are done in an organized, caring manner, with attention given to the needs of the soldier.
f. VEAP - Army College Fund (ACF) (also referred to as a kicker) will be awarded in conjunction with MGIB. The VA cannot see VEAP kickers on the MGIB system. The earned portion of the ACF will remain in the VEAP accounts; however, it would be advisable to attach a copy of the original enlistment agreement, reflecting ACF, to the application for education benefits (VA Form 22-1990). This document should be included on the soldier's OMPF; recommend soldier request a copy of the microfiche prior to separation from active duty. If this document is not available, recommend the soldier provide VA with a written statement that they entered active duty with a VEAP kicker.
g. Inquiries from individuals assigned to other services must be referred to their service POC. Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) individuals must contact their service POC.
Public Law 106-419, Section 104
(Amends PL 98-525, Section 3018C)
Opportunity for Certain VEAP Participants to Enroll in Montgomery GI Bill
1. Soldier Eligibility Criteria.
a. On continuous active duty from 9 Oct 96 through 1 Apr 00 (proof available).
b. VEAP participant. A participant is defined as someone having a VEAP account. The account may be at zero balance.
c. Makes an irrevocable decision to enroll in the MGIB NLT 31 Oct 01 (as a soldier or veteran).
d. Understands requirement for FAO to take a $2700 reduction-in-pay or a lump-sum payment, as appropriate.
e. Understands that the $2700 must be paid NLT 18 months after enrolling in the MGIB on DD Form 2366. If the full $2700 has not been paid, all education benefits are lost, and any money contributed is non-refundable.
f. Understands requirement to possess high school diploma, equivalency certificate, or to have completed 12 semester hours in a program leading to a standard college degree before applying for benefits.
g. Understands that the $2700 must be paid in full before education benefits are available.
h. Understands that decision to enroll is irrevocable and $2700 is non-refundable.
2. Processing MGIB enrollments or elections not to enroll.
a. Provide counseling on veteran's educational benefits and document on DA Form 669 (or electronically generated versions). Following statement, signed by the soldier, must be annotated on the DA Form 669: "IAW PL 106-419 Section 104, I have received counseling on veterans educational benefits and have chosen/not chosen to enroll in MGIB. I understand that I must receive a fully honorable discharge to be eligible to receive benefits."
b. Complete enclosure 4, revised DD Form 2366, Montgomery GI Bill Act of 1984 (MGIB), for those soldiers electing to enroll in the MGIB in lieu of remaining in the VEAP. The form must be completed on those electing to enroll. Number of copies and distribution of DD Form 2366 is listed in paragraph i below.
c. Direct soldier to go to installation FAO to process the required reduction-in-pay or lump sum payment prior to the expiration of 18 months.
d. Local FAO will provide verification of money paid in the following manner:
(1) Pay reduction will be reflected on monthly LES.
(2) Lump sum payments will be verified by DD Form 1131, Cash Collection Voucher.
e. Individuals who claim eligibility but who are not included on the list of eligibles provided by HQDA must forward a request for an exception to policy to Education Incentives and Counseling Branch at the address below. Individuals must include evidence that meets eligibility criteria. (Address: CDR, PERSCOM, ATTN: EICB-PL106-419, Suite 3N17, Alexandria, VA 22332-0472)
f. For soldiers who have contributions in their VEAP accounts and are currently receiving education benefits under VEAP, explain the differences between the in-service use of MGIB versus VEAP. For those who elect to transfer, complete VA Form 5281 to send through their local FAO to the VA for a refund of their personal contributions. When completing VA Form 5281, soldier must check Item 8D (OTHER) in Part II of the form and annotate the following, "PL 106-419, Section 104" in the blank space beside "8D". Failure to complete form properly may result in delays in processing the refund request. Soldier should receive refund after VA receipt and processing of the form. Reminder: If soldier is still making contributions to VEAP, direct to process a stop allotment action prior to submitting VA Form 5281.
g. RECOMMENDATION: VEAP-era soldiers with ACF should attach a written statement to the VA Form 22-1990 declaring they have a kicker.
h. For soldiers who have used some of their educational benefits, assist them in contacting the nearest VA Regional Office for information on the status of their VEAP accounts. When information on the amount of benefits used is available, explain the amount of benefits that they could have under MGIB. Public Law limits entitlement to a total of 48 months between more than one program. If they choose to enroll, assist them in preparing VA Form 5281 to send through FAO to the VA for a refund of any remaining personal contributions. Part III of the form must be certified at FAO and the form is sent to the VA Regional Office of jurisdiction. For OCONUS-based soldiers, refer to memo, Encl 6.
i. Distribution of DD Form 2366:
Four (4) copies of form must be prepared. Make appropriate number of copies. Use carbon paper and write firmly only if copy machine is not accessible. All copies must be completely legible. Soldier handcarries to FAO to process reduction-in-pay or lump-sum.
Copy 1: PSC copy--for filing in the soldier's Official Military Personnel File (Original) for record IAW AR 640-10. If soldier is within 30 days of separation and personnel records have been transferred to the Transition Point/Activity (TP/A), give form to the soldier to retain.
Copy 2 & 3: Soldier copy--for FAO and personal records. Be sure to emphasize the importance of maintaining a copy of DD Form 2366 and proof of the $2700 reduction- in-pay/lump-sum payment. Loss of DD Form 2366 and proof of payment could cause major delays or loss of benefits.
Copy 4: Army Education Center copy to be retained in a suspense file for three years. AEC will provide a weekly or monthly consolidated list of soldiers electing to transfer to the MGIB via e-mail. Please email to either firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com. EICB will acknowledge e-mails and update the MGIB database.
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