The Bayonet

Tuesday, Sep. 02, 2014

VA website tool provides education, benefits info

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WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an improved version of the GI Bill Comparison Tool Aug. 28. The tool was first launched in February 2014.

The GI Bill Comparison Tool is designed to make it easier for veterans, service members, and Family members to estimate their GI Bill education benefits and learn more about VA's approved college, university and other education and training programs across the country.

It also provides key information about college affordability and value so beneficiaries can choose the best education program to meet their needs.

In the past six months, nearly 350,000 people have accessed the tool on VA's GI Bill website. The top schools searched by users include: American Public University, Harvard, University of Texas at Austin, Arizona State University, and University of Washington.

VA successfully trademarked GI Bill to prevent its fraudulent use for recruiting purposes and to protect this publicly owned intellectual property.

"We are excited to see how veterans respond to the wealth of information now available on the updated GI Bill Comparison Tool," VA's Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey said. "We're grateful for the chance to work with our partners at the departments of Defense and Education to ensure beneficiaries are informed education consumers."

The updated version of the GI Bill Comparison Tool has new functionality, including a more robust GI Bill benefits calculator and additional information pertinent to the Veteran population (e.g., identifies schools with student veteran groups, VetSuccess on Campus program, and those that have agreed to the 8 Keys to Success).

The GI Bill calculator provides a personalized estimate of Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition and fee, housing allowance and book stipend benefits that would potentially be paid to the student.

The calculator prepopulates the tuition and fee estimates from the ED's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The veteran indicator section now contains new information on schools' student veterans groups, VetSuccess on Campus program and Yellow Ribbon agreement status.

The GI Bill Comparison Tool is one item in a series of resources VA has launched in response to the President's Executive Order 13607, signed April 27, 2012, which directs agencies to implement and promote "Principles of Excellence" for educational institutions that interact with veterans, service members and their Families, and to ensure beneficiaries have the information they need to make informed choices about VA education benefits and approved programs. As students return to school this fall, VA is committed to providing the support and information they need to succeed.

Since April 2012, VA has deployed the GI Bill Comparison Tool, the GI Bill Feedback System, and offered a free academic-readiness tool online. In addition, VA, the Department of Education and Department of Defense have agreed to new Veteran-specific outcome measures and signed a memorandum of understanding to exchange information, which will ensure greater compliance from schools receiving military and Federal education benefits.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a comprehensive education benefit created by Congress in 2008. Veterans and service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001, are eligible for the benefit. The Veterans Benefits Administration, which administers the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, has distributed more than $43 billion in the form of tuition and other education-related payments to more than one million veterans, service members, and their families, and to the universities, colleges, and trade schools they attend.

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