By Terry Howell
For several months I have been blogging on the issues concerning the new Post 9/11 GI Bill and online education. Although online course work is technically covered by the New Post 9/11 GI Bill, the tuition payment rate is substantially lower than the average cost for online coursework. In addition students who attend classes 100 percent online will be excluded from receiving the housing stipend.
However, I recently got some good news from the VA on how they intend to handle the housing stipend for students who attend a mix of classroom and online courses.
The VA policy in such cases will be to pay the stipend to any student who is taking more than a half-time class load, as long as at least one unit is taken in a classroom setting. Here are some examples of qualified and unqualified situations:*
Qualifying Example (A): Student "A" takes a total of 12 units (qualifying for stipend due to having more than a half-time load) at least one unit of which is in a classroom setting, leaving 11 units being taken online. Student "A" would qualify for the full stipend, as long as all other eligibility criteria is met.
Note: The housing stipend would be based on the campus zip code.
Qualifying Example (B): Student "B" takes 7 units (more than half-time) at least one unit is in the classroom. Student "B" would get the housing stipend, as long as all other eligibility criteria is met..
Non-Qualifying Example (C): Student "C" takes a total of 6 units (normally considered "half-time"). Student "C" would not qualify due to not meeting the requirement of taking "more than a half-time" load.
Non-Qualifying Example (D): Student "D" takes 7 units (more than half-time) but all classes are online with none taken in the a classroom setting. Student "D" would not qualify for the stipend.
Unfortunately this still does nothing for students who are taking 100 percent online course, However, it is an improvement in the right direction.
A recent article by Elizabeth Redden – featured on Inside Higher Ed – does a great job reporting many of the facts many of you have read and commented on here in the past. Her article speaks about the benefit limitations for online students under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. In her article, Elizabeth offers some explanation as to how the limitations made it into the final law and the possible impacts. She also has some very interesting quotes from key players in the VA, DoD, and affected schools. I highly recommend reading this article found at Inside Higher Ed and past blog entries on this subject.
If you have specific questions about your GI Bill eligibility and requirements call the VA 1-888-GIBILL-1.
*Note from Author: The facts in examples reflect the policy as it was explained at the ACE VA Post-9/11 GI Bill Implementation Conference in LA – by the VA Director of Education Service, Keith Wilson. Yes the answers are subject to change.
About the Author: A Retired Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, Terry completed his BS in Management and Communications using a combination of CLEP exams, credit for military service, and distance learning while on active-duty. Terry now serves as Managing Editor for the Education Channel at Military.com.