Since August, there have been three significant changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. While none of them have been across-the-board changes, each one does affect a number of GI Bill students.
U.S. Territories Housing Allowance
On August 28, 2012, the VA announced a change in how the Post 9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) would be calculated for the U.S. Territories. Up until the change, the housing allowance for Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Island and Minor Outlying Islands was fixed at the foreign rate of $1,368 (at the time the change was made; this has since increased to $1,468.) Since the change, the MHA is now based on the E-5 with dependents Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) of $2,450 – a significant increase. This change was due to the diligent efforts of Guam’s Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo.
Private/Foreign School Tuition Changes
The Post 9/11 GI Bill private and foreign school tuition rates undergo a review each year and if warranted, change each October 1st. In the most recent change for the 2012/2013 academic year, the referenced tuition rate went up to $18,077.50 from the previous 2011/2012 maximum yearly rate of $17,500 for an increase of 3.30%. Now the VA has posted the change expected for the 2013/2014 school year. That amount reflects a 5.94% increase which raises the rate to $19,198.31.
So far, the foreign school MHA remains fixed at $1,429.00, except as noted above for students going to school in the U.S. Territories. However public and private school students will see on average an increase of 3.8%. While the New Year started on January 1st, the new MHA rates will not go into effect until the start of the 2013/2014 school year on August 1st.
Satellite School Housing Allowance Change
As reported in an earlier post, the Oregon Institute of Technology satellite campus at Wilsonvillle, OR was successful at getting a separately registered facility code with the VA. Most satellite campuses fall under the main campus zip code as far as calculating the MHA, however, in the case of the Wilsonville campus, housing costs were significantly higher then they were at the main campus in Kalmath Falls, OR, so Wilsonville OIT students were disadvantaged by receiving the lower housing allowance but paying higher housing costs.
While this affects a fairly small body of students, it does set a precedence and provides an in-road for other campuses in similar situations to pursue facility codes of their own.
While these three changes have all been positive, there are rumors in the wind that future changes may not all be this way – especially if the mandated sequestration changes from the Budget Control Act of 2011 take effect.