By Terry Howell
The DoD released the 2010 Basic Allowance for Housing charts on December 15. This is potentially big news for veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill because the living stipend (aka housing stipend) is directly tied to the BAH for an E-5 with dependents. Although some may see their GI Bill Living stipend increase by as much as 13.6 percent in 2010, the average increase will be more like 2.5 percent. Some veterans may see no increase or a possible decrease in their stipend because the rates for 43 percent of the military housing areas covered by BAH will actually drop in 2010.
When asked when veterans could expect to see a change to their housing stipend, a VA representative stated, “In order to maintain continuity of service, BAH rates will remain the same to begin the spring semester. Any recalculations that may occur will not happen until later in the spring.”
However, the question of how the VA will address cases where the local BAH has dropped remains unanswered.
There is a chance the VA will follow the DoD policy in such cases. The DoD has a grandfathering policy (individual rate protection) that prevents the decrease of a BAH rate as long as the servicemembers status remains unchanged. In the case of a veteran student this should mean that a current student will not see a decrease in their living stipend. Only new students or those changing their status would see the lower rate.
As always, with the Post-9/11 GI Bill, there are more questions than answers.