The Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office in Washington, D.C., has authorized reimbursement of expenses for taking the CFP certification examination. U.S. military veterans interested in pursuing a second career after their stint in the armed forces may now seek reimbursement for taking the exam to become a financial planner. Veterans may qualify for the reimbursement for up to 10 years after military service. While VA funding has long been available for education of veterans following their term of military service, it is only recently that reimbursement for certification was added to veterans’ benefits.

According to Louis Garday, CFP Board CEO, this new policy is a “delicious opportunity.” He cites the number of “bright, educated folks with training” in various areas of the military who are looking for a second career, and points to the great gap between opportunities available within the planning field and planners to fill them. “Our duty as a standard-setting body is to get educational institutions” to do this, he says. The announcement of certification reimbursement by the VA is one more step toward that goal. Since joining the CFP board, Garday has sought the creation of planning curricula in colleges and universities across the United States, but this project predates him, he says. “They’ve been working on this for a year and a half,” he points out. “There are lots of veterans on the staff here,” he says; “all of us of an age are familiar with VA reimbursement policies. Someone came up with the idea” and the CFP board worked locally with the VA to bring the idea to reality.

“I would suspect most of the VA folks are already college graduates,” says Garday, “but not in this discipline; most going into this from retirement will be in the officer cadre. They’ll go into non-degree programs” for their certification. And whether it’s the College for Financial Planning in Denver, the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, or some other institution, says Garday, there are plenty of programs “all with the same view: taking someone with a college degree and teaching them the knowledge and skills to sit for the exam.” Courses at such places as the Metropolitan College in Denver, he adds, run from several years for those working and seeking certification at night to focused programs that can lead to the exam in six months.