On Nov. 1, 2011, retired Marine Mark Curtis of Chewelah, Washington, went back to school to get the bachelor’s degree he’s always wanted. Making a good decision even better, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will help pay for his housing – even though he doesn’t have to relocate.
Mark is one of the many veterans whose decision to attend an online university now carries the added benefit of eligibility for the VA housing stipend – worth up to $673.50 a month – thanks to recent congressional changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This includes students at WGU and its state subsidiaries.
“The expanded benefit will allow me to take full advantage of my VA education benefits without having to put my professional career on hold,” Mark said.
Mark, a married father of three, is the IT Director for the county he lives in. He makes his home in a small town about an hour outside of Spokane, so attending a physical college wasn’t a realistic option. Mark wanted to finish what he started while in the military, when he attended colleges part time at various duty stations, but unfortunately was not able to complete his degree.
When he found WGU Washington, he called the school and also the VA, where he learned that, effective Oct. 1, 2011, attending an online college makes U.S. military veterans eligible for a housing stipend. He immediately decided WGU Washington would be the right fit for him, and he plans to earn his bachelor's degree in IT Management from the school.
The changes in the GI bill apply to non-active-duty students who have served in the military. The monthly stipend is $673.50 for full-time students who fall in the VA’s 100% eligibility tier, with a percentage available for veterans with lower eligibilities. WGU students qualify as full-time if they earn 8 competency units (CUs) per term in a graduate degree program or 18 CUs in an undergraduate program.
Mark was impressed by WGU’s nationally recognized, accredited online degree programs, which work especially well for veterans, service members, and their families. WGU’s programs are designed for adult learners with flexibility and affordability in mind. (Learn more about what makes WGU a military-friendly online university.)
Students progress through their courses by demonstrating competency, not by counting the hours spent sitting in a lecture hall. This approach makes sure WGU graduates know what they need to know succeed in their careers. Six-month terms — rather than semesters — begin at the first of every month, making it easier to accommodate busy schedules. And because WGU’s tuition rates are quite modest, veterans will generally be eligible for benefits that more than cover the full cost of tuition, fees, and books.
Are you a military veteran? What does this change in the GI Bill mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section!