Although the program officially launches on July 1, 2012 acceptance letters or in military terms, Certificate of Eligibility or COE have already begun arriving for those who applied and made the cut.
What Is the Veterans Retaining Assistance Program?
Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 and then the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor launched, the VRAP. The program is designed to help unemployed veterans secure professional career training. Eligible veterans receive up to 12 months of financial assistance while enrolled in qualified programs. The current full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty program is $1,473/month.
Not All Solar Schools Are Covered under the Veterans Retaining Assistance Program
Note that the operative word in the above paragraph is “qualified programs.” This is important since:
- Solar PV installation training as a dedicated career field has only recently been added to the list of high demand occupational fields (recent as in the last 45 days)
- Few solar PV installation training “schools” have been selected to accept VA benefits to help applicants cover tuition costs
We’re proud to announce that US Solar Institute is one of these programs. In fact, we are the only VA-approved school that offers certified diploma programs, certificate courses and multiple pathways to ANSI 17024 personal certifications in solar PV installation due to our extensive qualifications including, being licensed by the Department of Education as a dedicated solar PV college. Those who began applying after our last VA solar training announcement are just now receiving their Certificates of Eligibility (COEs) this week.
Unfortunately, there are many “schools” out there that claim to accept the VRAP and other VA Benefits, when in actual fact, they do not and cannot.
Make sure that before signing up with a solar PV training program using VRAP Veterans Benefits:
- You must receive a Certificate of Eligibility (we can tell you how to get one)
- The school you’re applying to is registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs as an eligible and participating partner in the VRAP. If you’re not sure, check with your local VA chapter or complete a VA Request for Counseling Form.
- Before you or the school can get paid the school must submit your enrollment information to the VA and you must verify your attendance.
- You will be notified when the VA has processed the enrollment information received from your school of choice.
- You may verify and track the progress online via the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) by clicking Verify Attendance button on the GI Bill website.
- The school you’re applying to knows how to enter your COE and WAVE into the VA ONCE databases – the crucial aspect of protecting the Veteran and the school from potential fraud or misrepresentation.
- If they don’t know how to do this (or if they ask you what a COE or WAVE is) – they are probably not eligible to accept solar training benefits under the Veterans Retaining Assistance Program.
Beware of solar training schools that claim to accept Veteran’s Benefits to help you cover your training. Always read the fine print, and make absolutely sure that any program that you approach (or that approaches you) meets the criteria mentioned above.
How Do I Enroll in the Veterans Retaining Assistance Program?
The exact procedure has several steps, and it’s best to either contact your local VA chapter directly or reach out to us – we can walk you through the basics.
However – keep in mind – due to overwhelming demand, the program has been limited to 99,000 total participants – 45,000 before October 1, 2012, and an additional 54,000 eligible after this date.
This means that in order to qualify for any of the remaining slots, you need to act quickly.
If you’d like to learn more about our program or want to complete your solar PV installation training with us, click here. We can’t wait to help you on your journey to an exciting and high demand career in solar energy.
Most importantly what happens when you complete your program?
Let’s face it the bottom line is how does the participating veteran apply their education to land a well paying job? As a crucial aspect of VOW and VRAP the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Labor (DoL) will provide employment assistance to every Veteran who participates upon completion of their program and US Solar Institute will match in this effort.
Are you ready to get started in your new solar career? Click Here!