The GI Bill has enabled millions of veterans to attain vital career skills by funding the higher education and hands-on training to succeed in the civilian workforce. Since 2009, the VA has offered Post-9/11 GI Bill students a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) to help offset living expenses beyond tuition and books. Many veterans are aware that this benefit is available when attending vocational and technical training, but did you know that in certain situations the VA will pay an MHA for on-the-job training and apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships have the advantage of often paying the trainee to learn the ropes in a new job field, but can sometimes be difficult to manage financially due to reduced pay in the opening phases of the training period. The idea behind using the GI Bill as an apprentice is to help offset the financial cost of taking on an apprenticeship that may well be a decrease in pay in the short-term. Though the program applies only to certain kinds of on-the-job training and apprenticeships, for a segment of GI Bill-drawing students, the monthly stipend can provide veterans the financial flexibility to move into a new career that might have been otherwise unattainable.
In order to receive MHA for on-the-job training, a veteran must be entitled to GI Bill benefits, have a valid training plan on file with an approved State Approving Agency (SAA), and be hired into a VA-approved apprenticeship. In order to meet VA requirements, the apprenticeship must consist of supervised training and last between six months and two years. Pay must start at 50 percent or greater of the position’s eventual pay and rise as the training period progresses. Examples of the types of jobs often associated with this kind of apprenticeship are union plumbers, jobs in hotel management and firefighters.
MHA rates are based on the E-5 with dependents BAH rate and decline as time passes to offset a mandatory rise in apprentice pay. For Post-9/11 GI Bill-drawing veterans, the monthly pay rates begin at 100 percent of MHA for the first six months, drop to 80 percent for the following six-month period, 60 percent for the third six-month period, 40 percent for the fourth six-month period, and then remain fixed at 20 percent for any remaining months of training.
All other GI Bill programs (Montgomery GI Bill, REAP, VEAP, DEA) receive 75 percent of MHA per month for the first six months, 55 percent per month for the second sixth months and 35 percent per month for all further months.
Interested veterans should check with the VA to ensure GI Bill enrollment status, validate apprenticeship, and find contact information for the appropriate SAA. Active duty military members are not eligible, nor are non-veterans using GI Bill benefits transferred from a spouse. The VA will pay benefits only for higher training levels and not cover programs at that are equal or lower to the veteran’s current training level.
While the program covers a relatively small fraction of veterans, for those interested in working in a field with on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs, MHA payments can make a new career financially feasible, and open doors to good jobs in specialized fields. If you are eligible for GI Bill benefits and are looking for a career change, consider checking it out. You might just land an apprenticeship as an elevator installer that takes you right to the top.
Like this post? If so you can also learn How to use your GI Bill for certification and training.
Approving agencies list: http://www.nasaa-vetseducation.com/Contacts.aspx
Department of Labor apprenticeship page: https://www.dol.gov/featured/apprenticeship