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VRAP Info and Updates - Lancaster, CA

Thursday, January 16, 2014

VRAP Extension A Possibility

While the application period for the Veterans’ Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) closed October 1, 2013 (1), there is still hope that VRAP benefits could be extended beyond March 31, 2014. As it currently stands, veterans who have been approved for VRAP need to enroll in a training program as soon as possible in order to receive the greatest benefit as, by law, training benefits cannot be paid after March 31, 2014.

That might change if Senate bill S.6, Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act of 2013, introduced in January 2013 by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gains more traction and attention as the March 31, 2014 deadline nears. The bill proposes to extend VRAP benefits to qualified veterans until 2016.

While this bill hasn’t seen any official movement since July 2013, there may be reason for hope. The legislation already has 25 cosponsors in the Senate (2) and could likely gain more as the March 31 deadline nears.

VRAP provides monthly benefits up to $1,648 per month to unemployed veterans between 35 and 60 years old who are pursuing training in a high-demand career field (1). VRAP-approved veterans must not be eligible for any other VA educational benefit.

Approximately 50,000 veterans who have been approved for VRAP benefits have not yet enrolled in a qualified training program, according to data from benefits.va.gov/VOW/education.asp. Participants must be enrolled in a program that leads to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate.

References:

1.     http://benefits.va.gov/VOW/education.asp
2.     http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:s6:

May 21, 2013

Applications for the program cannot be received after October 1, 2013. Payments can only be made until March 31, 2014

As of May 21, 2013, less than half of all veterans approved for VRAP assistance have enrolled in training programs1. With benefit payments scheduled to expire March 31, 2014, this means thousands of veterans will lose access to their full 12-month VRAP benefit1. The VRAP Extension Act of 2013 introduced in February of this year could extend benefit payments until June 30, 2014, allowing veterans who have not yet enrolled in training to receive a full 12-month benefit payment2. While the extension has not yet been approved, if you've been approved for VRAP funding, now is the time to enroll in a qualified program in order to make the most of your benefits.

A snapshot of the government's VRAP (Veteran's Retraining Assistance Program) - how it works, who it's for, what it does

VRAP infographic Lancaster, CA

1. What Is Considered "Unemployed"?
  • The Department of Labor defines "unemployed" as "People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work." All three criteria must be met to be considered unemployed.
  • How And When Does DoL Verify Unemployment Status And Thus Declare Someone Eligible For VRAP? Does A Veteran Have To Remain Unemployed To Be Eligible For VRAP?

o   Unemployment status is determined through self-attestation the day the Veteran applies for the program and they do not have to remain unemployed throughout the duration of the program.

2. Is There A Paper Application Anywhere For VRAP? I Don’t Have A Computer – Now What?

  • VRAP applications are only accepted electronically.  If you need assistance completing and submitting the online application you may visit your Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER)/Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist or One-Stop Career Shop.  You may also receive assistance by visiting the nearest VA Regional Office.  Click here for a listing of VA Regional Offices. Click here for a listing of resources available to Lancaster Veterans.
3.  Can I Apply For VRAP Before I Start Training?
  • Yes, the earlier the better as applications may be received through October 1, 2013, or once we have 99,000 participants, whichever comes first.
4.  When And How Will I Find Out If I’ve Been Approved For The VRAP Program?
  • Once an eligibility determination is made, a notification letter will be mailed to you.  To obtain the status of your VRAP claim, you may send an electronic inquiry (7 days a week, 24 hours a day) on our website, www.gibill.va.gov by clicking the “Submit a Question” button.  You may also call the VA Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, CST).
5. Can I Use VRAP If I Am Not A Full-Time Student?
  • No. VRAP benefits can only be paid for training pursued on a full-time basis.
  • Students are generally considered full time if they maintain 12 credits per semester (1). However, because course loads differ between institutions and programs, students must be deemed full-time by the Recorder in the Financial Aid Department in order to receive their full benefit. Because of the accelerated pace at Charter College all students who are enrolled are full-time.
6. Eligible Programs
  • Participants must be enrolled in a program of education approved for VA benefits that is offered by a community college or technical school.
  • The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the Veteran for a high demand occupation. Search for an approved program here.
7. How Do I Verify My Enrollment?
  • If you're receiving the Active Duty or Reserve GI Bill, REAP, or VRAP use the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment(WAVE)  or call our toll free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone line at 1-877-VA-ECERT (1-877-823-2378) to verify your attendance
8. Will The Payments Under The VRAP Be Sent Directly To The School Like Payments Under The Post- 9/11 GI Bill?
  • No. The benefit will be paid directly to you and you are responsible for paying your expenses including tuition, fees, and books.
9. What Will Happen When I Finish My Training Under The VRAP Program?
  • The Department of Labor will provide employment assistance to every Veteran who participates, upon completion of their program.

Sources

1. http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm
2. http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/miller-aims-to-extend-veterans-retraining-program-through-june-2014
3. http://newgibill.org/get_answers

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<a href="http://www.lancastervaeducation.com/articles/what-is-VRAP-infographic">
<img src="http://www.lancastervaeducation.com/sites/default/files/vrap%20infographic1.png" alt="VRAP infographic" style="width: 753px; height: 1748px;"></a>
<br/><a href="http://www.lancastervaeducation.com/">Veterans Education Lancaster, CA</a>

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