ALABAMA (WHNT) — A bill signed by Gov. Kay Ivey is expanding the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs G.I. Dependent Scholarship.

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SB 119, which Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law, adds some private colleges and universities as qualifying schools under the program and now allows dependents of U.S. Space Force veterans to qualify for the benefit. The new provisions take effect on June 1, 2022.

The G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program is open to children, stepchildren, spouses, or an un-remarried widow/widower of the veteran. To prove eligibility for their dependents, veterans must:

  • Provide evidence of an honorable discharge or honorable termination of service after 90 consecutive days of active service, or service less than 90 days if the veteran or serviceman was discharged or released on the basis of a qualifying service-connected disability
  • Veterans must be rated 40% or more disabled as a result of a service-connected disability or have held the rating at the time of their death, be a former prisoner of war, be declared missing in action, died as a result of a service-connected disability rating, or died while on active military service in the line of duty (special eligibility conditions apply if a veteran was declared less than 20% disabled prior to May 23, 2017, or 20-30% on or before July 31, 2017 – visit the ADVA website for details)
  • Have a permanent address in Alabama for at least one year prior to initial entry into active federal military service or any subsequent entry into federal active military service where a 12-month break between tours occurred AND
    • Current resident for at least two years immediately prior to the date of the dependent scholarship application or date of the veteran’s death
    • Current resident who was discharged from active duty within 12 months prior to the date of the dependent scholarship application
    • Filed a resident Alabama income tax return for the past 10 consecutive years immediately prior to the date of the scholarship application
  • In the case of a veteran who is 100% permanently and totally disabled, that veteran can also satisfy residency by being an Alabama resident for at least five years immediately prior to the date of the scholarship application or date of the veteran’s death

The dependent applying for the scholarship must:

  • Be a current resident of Alabama at the time of the application
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year they are covered under the G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program
  • Comply with Satisfactory Academic Progress standards as defined by their educational institution
  • Complete a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) release form for each institution they attend, authorizing the release of personally identifiable information required to determine continued eligibility as for necessary reporting

The G.I. Dependent Scholarship benefit will only be applied after all other scholarships and grants are applied to required education expenses. G.I. Dependent aid is limited to $1,000 per student, per semester and the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Cap ($250 per semester hour).

Five academic years (10 semesters) of aid for undergraduate courses at any qualifying Alabama college/university is available to the following:

  • Children and stepchildren of any qualifying veteran
  • Spouses or un-remarried widows/widowers of a veteran rated as 100% permanently and totally disabled

Those 10 semesters must be used within eight years of the application being received at the ADVA office.

Spouses or un-remarried widows/widowers of a veteran rated 40-90% disabled can receive three standard academic years (six semesters) of aid for undergraduate courses. In this case, the six semesters must be used within six years of the application being received at the ADVA office.

Children/stepchildren are also eligible to attend comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities at state four-year colleges/universities where applicable.

Children/stepchildren must start their studies prior to their 26th birthday; the veteran and the step-parent must be legally married prior to the stepchild’s 19th birthday.

For more information and assistance filling out the application, visit your local ADVA office.