The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” was signed into law on August 16, 2017. This legislation brings significant updates to VA education benefits. Two sections of the law, Sections 107 and 501, affect housing payments, which you need to know about as you plan and budget for the school year.
This fall, VA is working to implement the changes on how Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) rates are determined. To keep you informed, we’ve outlined key information for you to know.
Effective August 1, 2018, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® MHA is calculated based on the location of the campus where you attend the majority of your classes, rather than the location of the main or branch campus of the school where you are enrolled. If you are using your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at two or more programs in different locations, your MHA rate will be based on where you are physically taking the majority of classes. If your residential course load is split equally at different campuses, you will be paid based on the location with the higher rate.
Some students took classes outside of the main or branch campus at a location VA defines as an “extension campus.” VA defines an extension campus as “a location that is geographically apart from the main or branch campus but is operationally dependent on that campus for the performance of administrative tasks.”
AN EXAMPLE OF EXTENSION CAMPUSES INCLUDE:
- A smaller, satellite campus of a large university that offers courses but does not have its own administration onsite. This campus may be a room(s) or a just a few buildings and offer fewer courses.
If you attend classes at an extension campus, it is important to check the MHA rate using the GI Bill Comparison Tool at VA.gov/gi-bill-comparison-tool/ to see what your MHA rate will be beginning December 1. The GI Bill Comparison Tool is updated with Academic Year 2019-2020 rates.
Effective January 1, 2018, the Post-9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance (MHA) will be the same as the Department of Defense’s E-5 with dependents basic allowance for housing (BAH) rate.
You will receive this rate if you first used your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits on or after January 1, 2018. If you started using your Post-9/11 GI Bill before January 1, 2018, you will continue receiving MHA payments based on the slightly higher VA rate.
While making IT system updates to be able to process rates stipulated by 501, VA has continued paying MHA at the higher VA rate. For some beneficiaries, this means that you were/are being overpaid since August 1, 2018 and will begin receiving the corrected rate this year after December 1.
Please note: If you were overpaid because of these changes, VA will automatically review your claim for waiver of the debt and provide additional information on this process to you. If you have any questions, the letters will provide a phone number, or you can call the VBA Education Hotline at 1-888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). For students outside the U.S., call 001-918-781-5678.