More veterans now eligible for Minnesota GI Bill benefits
As Minnesota's "Hire a Veteran Month" continues, Governor Mark Dayton announced yesterday that July also marks the new expansion of eligibility for Minnesota GI Bill benefits. This session Governor Dayton signed a measure designed to give more Minnesota veterans access to the financial aid resources they need to pursue a higher education. For many Minnesota veterans who were previously ineligible for GI Bill benefits, that could mean up to $10,000 to help pay for college or other post-secondary studies.
Previously, only veterans who served after September 11, 2001 were eligible for this benefit. Under the new law, any veteran under the age of 62 who has served honorably in any branch of the armed forces during any time period may be eligible for Minnesota GI Bill benefits.
"Minnesota Veterans have served our state and nation with courage and dedication," said Governor Dayton. "It is our duty to ensure they have the support they need to get back to work when their service ends. Expanding the GI Bill to all Minnesota Veterans will help Veterans get the education and training they need to find good jobs."
"These enhancements to the Minnesota GI Bill provide a much broader audience the opportunity to gain an education and get back to work," said Larry Shellito, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner.
Benefits and Eligibility Under the Minnesota GI Bill
Under the new law, benefit amounts from the enhanced Minnesota GI Bill remain the same. A full-time student may receive up to $1,000 per semester or term of enrollment, $3,000 per state fiscal year, and $10,000 in a lifetime (up to age 62). Part-time students may receive $500 per semester or term of enrollment, and a minimum award of $50 per term.
Apart from the expansion, previous eligibility requirements remain the same. Those eligibility requirements are as follows:
Veterans must be Minnesota residents attending any approved public or private university, college, or career school in Minnesota as undergraduate or graduate students.
Military members who do not meet the state veteran statute requirements must have served honorably for a total of five or more years (cumulatively) as a member of the National Guard or Reserve component. Any part of their service must have occurred on or after September 11, 2001.
Surviving spouses and children of a veteran who has died in military service, or has a total or permanent disability as a direct result of military service, may also be eligible.
Differences Between the Federal GI Bill and the Minnesota GI Bill
The Federal GI Bill and the Minnesota GI Bill are different. The Federal GI Bill has many complex chapters for individuals who enlisted in the military. Some benefits require active duty members to pay, while other benefits are earned by cumulative or consecutive active duty periods of service.
The Minnesota GI Bill was established in 2007 to provide postsecondary educational assistance to eligible Minnesota Veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001. Funds from this program are tied to financial aid and are paid directly to the higher education institution.
Minnesota veterans can find more information about both programs, and learn how to apply for GI Bill benefits, at www.MinnesotaVeteran.org.