Image via Shutterstock Image via Shutterstock

Under current law, more than two-thirds of new recruits pay to maintain eligibility for benefits they never use.

In a rare act of bipartisanship, the U.S. House unanimously passed a bill to improve education benefits for veterans.

The GI Bill Planning Act, which passed last week 408-0, would give new military recruits a 6-month window to choose their GI education benefits plan. Under current law, recruits must make that decision within 2-weeks of entering boot camp.

“This legislation gives military recruits the time they deserve to consider how their military career and their educational goals should align,” Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) said in a statement. “I spoke with many veterans’ groups in my district, and all of them said this legislation is much needed.”

Axne was among 15 Republicans and Democrats to sponsor the legislation.

For recruits, a longer decision-making window could help them avoid unnecessary costs when deciding whether to enroll in the 1984 Montgomery GI Bill. Though most never use it, more than two-thirds opt to maintain eligibility for those education benefits, a decision that costs them $100 per month for 12 months. 

Ultimately, about 97 percent of recruits receive education benefits through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which the Department of Veterans Affairs says is the best option for most participants.

Accordingly, the GI Bill Act sunsets new enrollments for the Montgomery GI Bill in 2029 in favor of the more generous post-9/11 GI Bill.

The bill must pass the Senate before and then signed by the president before it can become law.