The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, includes $386 million for a new job training program to assist veterans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program offers up to 12 months of cash payments to eligible veterans who enroll in job training programs for high-demand jobs.
Veterans who participate in the program will receive a monthly housing allowance (MHA) that is roughly equal to the military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for a married E-5. This is the same as the Post-9/11 GI Bill MHA.
Related: Check out your 2021 BAH Rates
Under the new program, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay any tuition costs directly to the school, leaving the veteran with no out-of-pocket expenses.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for this new program, veterans must:
- Be between ages 22-66;
- Be unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Not be eligible for any federal GI Bill program (if eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, they must have transferred their benefits to family members -- thereby having no GI Bill eligibility for themselves);
- Not be VA rated as totally disabled due to unemployability;
- Not be enrolled in any other federal or state employment programs; or
- Not be in receipt of any unemployment or CARES Act benefits.
The program will run until either the $386 million has been allocated or 17,250 veterans are trained, whichever comes first.
What Type of Training Is Covered?
The new program will not cover any courses that are designed to lead to a college degree; the training must be designed specifically to lead to a job.
According to the law, that means that the course must be approved either under the very popular VET TEC program, an existing GI Bill pilot program, or it must be on the list of high-demand occupations that is created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Expect the VA to release more details soon.
The VA will cover the full cost of the training. To help make sure that shady operators don't try to scam veterans or Uncle Sam out of their money, the program has a special payment plan:
- The VA will pay half of the tuition to the school when a veteran enrolls;
- Another 25% of the tuition will be paid when a veteran graduates;
- If a veteran finds a job within six months of completing the training, the school gets paid the final 25% of its cost. The job must be related to the training the veteran received. No job = no money.
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