VEAP Service Members May Now Enroll in Montgomery G.I. Bill
By Senior Master Sgt. Jim Katzaman, USAF
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 1996 For the next 12 months, active duty service members in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program may enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill.
The Veterans Benefits Improvements Act, signed into law by the president Oct. 11, makes the change possible. DoD, Department of Veterans Affairs and service officials must still decide how to enroll service members.
This change can affect more than 120,000 active duty service members now enrolled in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program. Service members who entered active duty from 1977 to 1985 could enroll only in VEAP. If they did, they could contribute up to $2,700 into the program, with the government making a two-for-one dollar match. The total benefit was $8,100.
Since 1985, military personnel could enroll only in the Montgomery GI Bill. Their pay was reduced $100 per month for a year. For that $1,200 in reduced pay, they received a return of up to $14,998.
"At this point, we don't know if the VA will approve transfer of money directly from the VEAP account into the Montgomery GI Bill," said Albert Arrighi, the Air Force's chief of voluntary education programs.
VA's decision will help determine how much of service members' VEAP contributions will be refunded and how much, if any, would transfer into the Montgomery GI Bill. In any event, Arrighi said, "Your contribution to VEAP will be refunded to you."
Because the exact form of the refund is uncertain until all parties agree on the system, service members should not rush to their education offices to fill out refund requests. Personnel officials will announce when the VEAP-to-Montgomery GI Bill enrollment system is in place.
Switching from one education financial aid program is not mandatory. Those who switch from VEAP can apply $1,200 of their refund direct to Montgomery to receive that GI Bill's full benefit.
Personnel officials will contact those now out of the service who were on active duty and enrolled in VEAP when the Veterans Benefits Improvements Act became law on Oct. 11. They are also entitled to enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill.
(Katzaman is a reporter with the Air Force News Service.)