EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Under a recent change by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, more veterans' loved ones will be eligible for education benefits.
In the past, Wisconsin GI Bill benefits for spouses and children were limited based on Wisconsin residency, but with a recent expansion of the bill, local colleges will be able to serve more veterans and their family’s educational needs.
“For service-connected disabled veterans, a great tool that they can use to help their family become educated is to take advantage of the GI Bill,” says Tim Moore Eau Claire County Veterans Services Director.
Legislation set in 2005, the Wisconsin GI Bill awards full college tuition to eligible veterans and their dependents; benefits families only saw if the veteran was a resident of Wisconsin when they entered active service.
But with a recent expansion of the bill, that residency restriction is no longer.
“It's going to open up this benefit for many many more people, because that restriction of having that residency requirement really cut the numbers down,” says Moore. “I think this is really going to enhance what we have to offer veterans here in Wisconsin.”
Chippewa Valley Technical College currently has about 150 students who are receiving veterans' benefits.
In an email, Margo Keys, the Vice President of Student Services says, "The changes to the Wisconsin GI Bill broadens access to education for more veterans, their spouses and dependents and CVTC looks forward to serving their educational needs in the future. The changes honor the service of our veterans and ultimately help serve the employment needs of the area.”
Under the new expansion, for a dependent to qualify for the benefits, the veteran must have served on active duty under honorable conditions, at least a 30 percent service-connected disability rating, have lived in Wisconsin for at least five consecutive years immediately before the start of the semester, and the eligible student must have lived in Wisconsin for at least 5 years before enrollment.
“This is just one step, there's a lot of things that the current administration of Wisconsin department of Veterans Affairs is just really taking a national lead to help out our veterans and their families,” says Moore.
Eau Claire County Veteran Services says applications are currently available. Moore recommends stopping by your local county veteran service office to apply for the expanded eligibility.