Troops, veterans stampede toward new GI Bill

“We are very pleased with the tremendous interest,” VA Undersecretary for Benefits Patrick Dunne said in a statement, adding that the volume of new GI Bill applications is three times greater than the normal rate for the other GI Bill programs.

“The number of applications submitted in the first two weeks clearly shows the value and importance of this new benefit to veterans,” Dunne said.

People applying now for the new program receive a certification letter that lets them know if they qualify for benefits and at what level. Benefits payments are based on the amount of active service since Sept. 11, 2001. In most cases, a minimum of 90 days of service is required to receive payments equal to 40 percent of full benefits, while maximum payments — including full tuition, a living stipend and book allowance — require at least three years of active service.

Dunne said VA continues to urge precertification in anticipation of a tidal wave of applications this fall. “Because of the large number of applications expected to be received, we encourage veterans interested in attending school this fall to apply early online,” he said.

VA officials expect about 450,000 people to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill this year.

The new program, which Dunne said is the biggest improvement in benefits for veterans since 1944, does not take effect until Aug. 1, but precertification will set the stage for the first benefits checks to go out as early as Aug. 3.

The online application form is available at VA’s GI Bill Web site. Paper applications also are being processed.

The VA Web site includes information explaining details of the new GI Bill and other education programs. Help also is available by calling toll-free (888) 442-4551.

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