In April 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the pilot program VET TEC, which stands for Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses. The VA announcement opened the doors for applications to the program for qualifying veterans who are eligible for VA education benefits.
Originally promoted in conjunction with other aspects of the Forever GI Bill, VET TEC offers veterans “accelerated training in coding bootcamps” or similar information science programs, software training, etc. The program is designed to be a fast-track education experience designed to help veterans get into high-tech careers.
VET TEC Background
The VET TEC pilot program, as described in the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (the “Forever GI Bill”) has been allocated a $15 million annual budget and is intended to help students pursuing technology careers in the following areas:
- Information science
- Computer Programming
- Data Processing
- Media Application
VET TEC offers training for approved programs and from approved providers. The VA official site has a list of these approved training providers broken down by state.
If you are interested in a program that is not currently on that list, the VA encourages potential students to request the training facility apply to be added to it. Requests for such consideration should be made after reviewing the official site’s Education and Training section under the VET TEC heading.
VET TEC Training Versus Typical College Coursework
The kind of training offered through participating Training Providers is not the same as a typical four-year degree. The term “bootcamp” is an appropriate one for some of these programs in terms of the level of intensity and the duration of the training.
You may find some programs through VET TEC that are only 40 hours long, while others can run upwards of 680 hours or more.
Both online and in-person training options are available depending on the facility and demand. There seems to be no corresponding difference in the number of hours required for online versus in-person training.
Preferred VET TEC Programs
Some VET TEC training partners offer what are considered “preferred programs” described as those where the training facility “agrees to refund tuition and fees to VA if the student completes the program and does not find meaningful employment within 180 days.”
What VET TEC Offers Veterans (Financially)
It is too easy to dismiss certain kinds of transition assistance as being “just another training opportunity” on the way out of a life in uniform and into the civilian world. There are many such opportunities on a sliding scale where return on investment is concerned, and it can be hard to know which opportunity is the right one for you.
But VET TEC is unique; in its current form as a pilot program it has some important advantages. When comparing features for VA and non-VA education benefits (especially those related to your GI Bill), be sure to cross reference this program to see if you’re getting the same bang for your education buck.
VET TEC benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:
VET TEC Requires Eligibility For The GI Bill But Does Not Use Entitlement
You read that correctly; if you are eligible to get training via VET TEC, use of the program does not count against your GI Bill entitlement. All participants must have at least one day of GI Bill entitlement remaining in order to be approved for training, but VET TEC does not charge the actual GI Bill funds, letting you save them for later.
VET TEC Pays A Housing Stipend Similar To The GI Bill
When attending training courses through VET TEC, all students earn a housing stipend based on the monthly BAH allocated to an E-5 at the with-dependents rate. This stipend is paid based on the zip code where you physically attend most of your classes.
For those who are taking online-only classes, the stipend is half of the monthly BAH for an E-5 at the with-dependents rate (based on the national average). These housing payments are pro-rated for training that does not last a full month.
Specific Payment Parameters Are Required Of All Training Providers
There are specific rules and requirements for education payments through VET TEC. VA rules stipulate that the training facility is not permitted to charge the veteran directly for any tuition or school fees under VET TEC. The schedule of payments to the institution are defined by the VA and must be agreed to by the school.
How To Apply For VET TEC
VET TEC eligibility is fairly simple; to qualify for this VA pilot program, applicants must be military veterans “with at least one day of unexpired education benefits” according to the VA official site.
For those who meet this requirement, you may complete an application to establish eligibility, or seek the assistance of a Veterans Service Officer to complete and submit the forms.
- To sign up for VET TEC you will need to use or create an account via DS Logon, My HealtheVet, or ID.me. Learn more about setting up these accounts at the VA official site
- To create an account you will need to provide information including Direct Deposit account numbers, your highest education level, any previous industry experience, and information about the training provider you wish to take classes with
- VA instructions encourage you to fill out the VET TEC application forms via DS Logon, or MyHealtheVet, or via ID.me even if you do not have a program selected at the time of application
- If you already decided on a Training Provider to take courses with, be sure to list that provider on the paperwork where prompted
- Complete and submit all forms according to the instructions on the application portal
- Eligibility for VET TEC requires all applicants to have completed an Application for VA Education Benefits also known as VA Form 22-1990. Those who have already completed this form do not need to do so again
Once You Have Applied
The Department of Veterans Affairs normally takes approximately 30 days to make a decision, but it’s best to assume the process will take longer than that; don’t risk missing a class start date because you submitted the paperwork too late.
Submitting a VET TEC application via one of the official portals listed above is the equivalent to filling out the paper version of VA Form 22-0994, Application for Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC).
The Department of Veterans Affairs, at the time of this writing, delivers all acceptance and rejection letters about the VET TEC program by U.S. Mail. Make sure your address and other contact information on file with the VA is current and will be current in the near future. You may not receive an e-mail, phone call, or other notification except by mail.
VET TEC Is A Pilot Program
Remember that everything you read here discusses the VA pilot version of this program and is subject to change, cancellation, modification, or other alterations without notice. Pilot programs may be approved, cancelled, run out of funding, go under review for future development, etc.
It is best in all cases related to VA pilot programs like this one to contact a VA representative to make sure the program is still open, still offers the same benefits, and provides the same outcomes as originally advertised.
You can always contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to get information on programs like VET TEC by calling 1-800-827-1000.
How VET TEC Works For Training Providers
In this pilot program, the Department of Veterans Affairs partners with training providers to give eligible veterans high-tech training, plus help with job placement and career development.
The pilot program introduces a “pay-for-performance” model offering an incremental payment process based at least in part on the success of the veteran students in the individual program.
Pay For Performance-How It Works
How does that incentive process work? The VA agrees to pay the training facility 25% of the cost of a student’s enrollment up front, plus another 25% once the student successfully finishes the VET TEC training program.
The remaining 50% of the tuition and fees are paid to the training provider, “once the Veteran secures meaningful employment in his or her field of study” according to the VA official site, which adds that documentation of student success in the employment seeking phase of the program is mandatory.
Students Cannot Be Charged Directly
The VET TEC rules include a repeated emphasis on how the student’s education must be funded; the VA official site includes this example; a training provider may not “receive the initial payment of $2,500 and then charge the Veteran $7,500 to be refunded when VA pays.”
Please note that the dollar amounts used here are just an example and not necessarily indicative of the actual costs involved.
How To Apply To Become A VET TEC Training Provider
Download and complete the following forms from the VA official site:
- VET TEC Training Provider Application
- VET TEC Pilot Program Participation Agreement
- VET TEC Training Provider Facility Programs Spreadsheet
- VET TEC Statement of Compliance with 85/15 Ratios and Spreadsheet
- VET TEC Training Provider Additional Sites
Mail all completed forms to:
VET TEC Application
130 South Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo NY 14202
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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