Major Changes to Veterans’ Scholarship Program

The Alabama Legislature recently took measures to control the increasing costs of the Alabama G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program.

This scholarship program provides tuition, textbooks and instructional fees at any state-supported institution of higher learning, college or university to qualified dependents of eligible disabled veterans.

On May 23, 2017, Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB315 into law which amended portions of the program. Beginning with new applications received on or after July 31, 2017, students will now have different requirements and benefits.

In addition to the residency requirements already in place, the law adds new residency requirements for both the student and the veteran. The student must be a current resident of Alabama. The veteran must also be a current resident of Alabama and have maintained that residency for the two years immediately prior to the application for the scholarship, or be a current Alabama resident who was discharged from active duty in the past 12 months. An alternate residency option would be for the veteran to provide sufficient proof that they have filed an Alabama state income tax return for the past 10 years.

The minimum disability rating eligible for the scholarship program returns to a 40 percent service connected disability rating in most cases. Veterans with at least a 20 percent service connected disability rating but less than 40 percent who file for scholarship benefits prior to July 31, 2023, may qualify under certain criteria. Veterans who have a disability claim currently pending prior to May 23, 2017 may still qualify if their claim results in a rating of at least 20 percent and they file for scholarship benefits within six months of the final decision.

The law caps each new recipient’s scholarship to $250 per credit hour. This tuition rate is based on the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Cap. Required textbooks and applicable fees will be limited to a combined $1,000 total per student for each semester. Schools may waive any overages of these charges at their discretion.

Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each year they use benefits under the program. Any scholarships and grants must be applied prior to Alabama state-supported schools billing the program for covered expenses. Students are also required to meet the same academic standard as would be required for federal education benefits.

For assistance, please contact your local county veteran’s affairs office or call (334) 242-5077.