As we recently reported, there are several changes to the GI Bill coming in 2011. One of those changes is that online students earning their degree from distance learning universities will now be able to receive Basic Allowance for Housing pay (BAH). Plenty of visitors have contacted our site asking the very same question: “Do I get GI Bill Bah if I take courses online?” And much to their dislike, the answer has always been no.
The fact that online military students didn’t have access to BAH pay was especially unfortunate since distance learning programs are often the most convenient and cost-effective way for a military member to earn their college degree! But fortunately, due to upcoming changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, this situation will be remedied and even exclusively online learners will gain access to BAH pay.
In accordance with the GI Bill, BAH offers military members housing compensation to help cover the cost of their living expenses while they are enrolled in higher education courses. Previously, only service members enrolled in traditional campus-based universities could access BAH, but now with the new GI Bill, online classes will qualify as service member for BAH pay too.
When will BAH be available for students enrolled in online classes?
The housing allowance for online students will become effective October 1st, 2011. BAH payouts to online students are planned to be set at half the national average BAH rates for an E-5 with dependents (which would be $673.50 in 2011). With the changes to the GI Bill, distance learning students will now finally be able to receive their well-deserved housing benefits.
Prior to this change, in order to qualify for BAH, distance learning students would have been forced to be enrolled in at least one campus-based course (which defeats the entire purpose of earning your degree online). The VA claimed that they had to keep this requirement in the formula so that they could accurately gauge BAH rates based on the zip codes provided by military students, but with the new direction to offer half the national average, this spurious argument no longer holds any water.
If you’re ready to make the jump from traditional to online learning, be sure to check out our article on how to find a military inclusive college, which can help you find schools that have your best interest at heart.
What are your thoughts on the new BAH for online courses? VeteransAdvisor would love to hear your ideas on the issue and we invite you to sound off in the comments section below!