VA Promotes STEM Education With Benefits Expansion
By Abigail Chu, Member Service Representative, MOAA
As a provision in the new Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 — more commonly known as the Forever GI Bill — the VA is extending education benefits for veteran students seeking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees, effective Aug. 1, 2019.
The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship is intended to encourage veterans to pursue fields that often require more resources than the 36 months of benefits the Post-9/11 GI Bill allocates. By granting greater financial assistance, the talent pool of student veterans in STEM concentrations can grow.
Students who have used up or nearly depleted the entirety of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits ( learn more about GI bill eligibility and benefits) will be able to apply to the VA for extended time and financial assistance. This extension will pay eligible students up to nine additional months of benefits or a maximum lump sum of $30,000.
The eligibility requirements for this expansion are students who:
- are enrolled in a program of education leading to a post-secondary degree that requires more than the standard 128 semester credits hours (or 192 quarter credit hours); and
- are completing their undergraduate college degree in:
- biological or biomedical science,
- physical science,
- science technologies or technicians,
- computer and information science and support services,
- mathematics or statistics,
- engineering; engineering technologies or an engineering-related field,
- a health profession or related program,
- a medical residency program,
- an agriculture science program or natural resources science program, or
- other subjects and fields identified as meeting national needs; and
- have completed at least 60 standard semester credit hours (or 90 quarter hours) in one of the above fields or
- have earned a degree in one of these fields and are currently pursuing a teaching certification.
Individuals who require the most credit hours for their degree will be given precedence as well as individuals who were already entitled 100 percent of the GI bill benefits.
It is important to note the expansion is not transferable to dependents and Yellow Ribbon funds are not available under this program.