What is the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP)?
Are you a Veteran who lost your job because of COVID? You may be stressed out and frustrated to say the least. But you are not alone. The government is doing what it can to help you recover with the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP), and Empire Resume Career Services is providing a brief overview of the program, so you can take advantage of its benefits.
To combat the growing unemployment problem, the VRRAP was signed into law immediately on March 11, 2021, by President Biden, as part of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, with aid targeted to help individuals and businesses recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched VRRAP to support unemployed Veterans who are seeking retraining and economic opportunities in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Why the VRRAP Program is Important?
The Coronavirus halted the lives of military families and Veterans who have transitioned from the military to civilian life.
In fact, the employment situation of veterans, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March 2021, shows:
- That the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 rose to 7.3 percent in 2020.
- The jobless rate for all Veterans rose to 6.5 percent in 2020.
What does the Veterans Retraining Program do?
The VRRAP is a new fast track training program for Veterans. Think of it as upskilling or reskilling for veterans. Bottom line is, it’s a way for you to get education benefits as well as a new career.
For qualifying Veterans seeking training for employment in a high-demand occupation, VRRAP provides up to 12 months of tuition, fees, and tax free, monthly housing allowance payments ranging from $1000 to $2500, based on Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Unlike the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the housing allowance may be paid for training at half-time or less, and the amount paid is rounded to the nearest multiple of 10, which means that it will be from 10% to 50%.
While VRRAP does not pay for materials and supplies, you’ll receive a monthly stipend toward those costs.
As with any government funded program, you must be eligible to reap the benefits as a recipient. Learn more about program eligibility requirements below.
Veteran Eligibility for the Rapid Retraining Assistance Program
To qualify for VRRAP, you must be an honorably discharged Veteran and meet all the following requirements:
- At least 22 years old, but not older than 66, and
- Unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and
- Not rated as totally disabled because you can’t work, and
- Not enrolled in a federal or state jobs program, and
- Not receiving unemployment benefits (including CARES Act benefits), and
- Not eligible for GI Bill or Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits.
Keep in mind: You can receive VRRAP benefits if you were eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill, even if you’ve transferred all your benefits to family members.
If you are found eligible for the VRRAP, your tuition and fees will be paid directly to the school, and a housing allowance may be supplied, depending on your circumstances and the information you share in the VRRAP application.
VRRAP High Demand Occupations
The VA partnered with the Department of Labor to identify 200 high-demand training programs in 18 different career fields. You’ll find anything from high-tech computer-related fields like cybersecurity, to healthcare, media, education, architecture, engineering, transportation, and many more.
Wondering what a high demand occupation is and if the type of work you do or want to do is in demand? Check out the career fields below:
- Management Occupations
- Business and Financial Operations
- Computer and Mathematical Occupations
- Architecture and Engineering Occupations
- Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations
- Community and Social Service Occupations
- Legal Occupations
- Education, Training, and Library Occupations
- Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations
- Healthcare Practitioner and Technical Occupations
- Healthcare Support Occupations Protective Service Occupations
- Personal Care and Service Occupations
- Sales and Related Occupations
- Office and Administrative Support Occupations
- Construction and Extraction Occupations
- Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
- Production Occupations
- Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
To see if your chosen career path is located within these occupations, review the VRRAP high demand occupation list. You may be surprised to see the wide range of occupations that are considered high demand.
Interested in being a part of this amazing program? Next, we’ll discuss how to apply.
Apply for VRRAP
To apply for the VA Retraining Assistance Program, make sure you’ve met the above eligibility requirements and sign into your VA.gov account. The next steps will be as follows:
- Gather documentation. Social security number and bank account information for direct deposit.
- Apply. Complete and submit the education benefits form (VA Form 22-1990S) online. You will receive a confirmation message. Write it down or print the page for your records.
- Wait during VA review. The VA will make a decision within 30 days and will inform you by mail if more information is needed.
- Receive decision. If your application is approved, you’ll receive an award letter or Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the mail. Take the letter to the VA certifying official at the school you plan to attend. The certifying official is typically located in the registrar’s or financial aid office. If your application is denied, you will receive a denial letter in the mail.
Note: VRRAP benefits cannot be transferred to anyone else.
If you need assistance filling out your application, visit the Veterans Service officer or Veteran representative at the school of your choice discussed below.
VRRAP Approved Schools
There are 792 VRRAP approved educational institutions. These include associate degrees, non-college degrees, and certificate programs.
Covered education schools must provide training as determined by the Commissioner of Labor Statistics. Additionally, the programs are GI Bill and VET TEC approved and:
- Are for a high demand occupation;
- Approved under the VA Educational and Career Counseling program; and
- Do not lead to a bachelors or graduate degree.
Many VRRAP approved classes can be accessed online such as grant writing and medical coding. Other courses require in person classes for hands-on training, such as classes that teach Veteran students how to operate construction equipment, for example.
How does the VA pay the school?
The VA will pay the educational institution at the following milestones:
- 50 percent of total amount of program when Veteran starts the program.
- 25 percent of total amount of program when Veteran completes the program.
- 25 percent of total amount of program if Veteran finds employment in a field related to program of education within 180 days of completing the program.
- A prorated amount will be paid for the portion of the program pursued if an eligible veteran does not complete the program but, nonetheless finds employment in a field related to the program of education during the 180-day period.
Interested in VRRAP? Apply Now Because the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program Doesn’t Last Forever
The VRRAP is limited to a maximum of 17,250 participants or $386 million in funding, whichever is reached first. But the program’s December 11, 2022, expiration date is also a factor.
VA may not pay retraining assistance for covered programs of education that begin on or after December 11, 2022. For training that starts before December 11, 2022, VA may pay retraining assistance two years passed that date.
Just remember, VRRAP ends on December 11, 2022, and is limited to the funding amount of $386 million or participant limit of 17,250 – whichever comes first.
Any other questions? Check out the VRRAP frequently asked questions.
VRRAP: A Veteran’s Opportunity to Learn a New Skill or Start a New Career
At the end of the day, the goal for VRRAP is to allow Veterans like you to learn a new skill or complete a certification program in a high demand field. As a result, these newly gained skills will expand your employment options.
So, if you are an unemployed veteran who meets the eligibility requirements and needs to work, the VRRAP opportunity could be your chance to get your training paid for while earning a monthly stipend while in the program. Finally, you may also discover a new and exciting career!
Empire Resume Will Help You Transition into the Civilian Workforce
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Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.