Here’s How the Newly Revamped GI Bill Impacts Veteran Education Benefits

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President Donald Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, left, shake hands with military veterans
President Donald Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, left, shake hands with military veterans after signing the Veteran's Affairs Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

Military veterans just got a big educational boost with the flick of a pen from President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Trump signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, which expands the reach of the 1944 GI Bill.

The move stretches access to free college tuition across a wider swath of veterans and their families and extends the time they have to take advantage of it.

The bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“This legislation will enable veterans to use the education benefits they’ve earned through the GI Bill when and how it suits them best, setting them up for future success in whatever career they pursue,” said U.S. Representative Phil Roe in a statement.

Here’s What the “Forever GI Bill” Means for Military Veterans

The new bill, referred to as the Forever GI Bill, gets rid of the 15-year time limit veterans have to use their benefits after a 90-day stretch of active duty.

That aspect of the legislation goes into effect right away and applies to anyone who left the service after the start of 2013 and the families of service members, according to an article in the Military Times.

The new law also grants veterans who are studying certain science, technology, engineering or math majors enough money for an extra year of school, on a first-come first-serve basis.

The bill helps out student veterans hit by sudden college closures, such as the Corinthian Colleges bankruptcy in 2015 (though students will also be getting a payday from that incident thanks to a class-action settlement).

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will restore benefits to veterans affected by school shutdowns.

“We’ve been getting calls for several years now, beginning with the collapse of Corinthian (Colleges), from student veterans whose lives were put on hold,” Will Hubbard, the Student Veterans of America vice president of government affairs, said in an interview with the Military Times. “Every day we wasted until it passed was another day that they had to wait.”

How to Claim Your GI Bill Benefits

To check on your eligibility for GI Bill benefits, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

You can apply for educational benefits online or in person at your local Veterans Affairs office. You can even check this nifty map to see how quickly your closest office is processing claims for benefits.

Be sure to check out that Military Times article for a detailed rundown of the Forever GI Bill, and enjoy hundreds of other benefits of your service.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

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