Will I Be Able To Use My Military Education Benefits or Veterans’ Benefits to Pay For My Education?

The United States government put into place a system of entitlements for qualified individuals who served in the Armed Forces and who received an honorable discharge. The education entitlements provide honorably discharged veterans with the opportunity to obtain new or needed skills and/or the opportunity to receive a formal education; thus, making them competitive in the civilian workforce.

What is the GI Bill & Who Qualifies?

Currently there are two paths veterans can explore for educational benefits. It is recommended that a prospective student speak with a VA Education Benefits counselor at the chosen school. The VA counselor will be able to determine the best course of action.

Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is available to those active duty service members (Chapter 30) who initially pay $100 per month for twelve months. Upon completing a stipulated service obligation the service member is allowed a monthly payment to offset education expenses.  Selective reservists are covered under the Montgomery GI Bill –Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR, Chapter 1606). The entitlement requires that the selected reservist maintain active drilling status. A six year service obligation is required of selected reservists.

What is the Post-9/11 GI Bill & Who Qualifies?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers education and housing entitlements to those service members who accumulate a total of 90 aggregate service days after September 10, 2001 and who received an honorable discharge. Those with disabilities related to service must meet a 30 day aggregate service requirement.  Benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill are paid over a time period not to exceed 36 months. The entitlement covers the cost of tuition and fees, provides a monthly housing allowance, and money for books.

How do I Apply?

The first step, in determining your eligibility, is to locate a school that accepts Federal Financial Aid and/or Veteran’s Benefits. Then submit an application to the school. Upon receipt of a formal acceptance letter, make an appointment with the school’s financial aid officer in charge of Veteran’s Benefits. This individual assists newly accepted students gather required information and documentation about their service, with the Armed Forces (ex: DD-214), and assists the student with making application for benefits.

Depending on when application is made, it can take 30 days to receive a Letter of Eligibility from the Office of Veteran’s Affairs. Once received, the letter will outline the amount of your education benefit entitlement, the length of time they will be paid, stipulate your housing allowance, and state any other amounts you are entitled to. With this letter, the VA Benefits counselor has the authority to enroll you in school and you may begin attending classes.

Often an applicant is already registered and attending school before the VA sends its first tuition payment to the school and housing allowance to the student. Payments can take up to 6-8 weeks to receive.

Some Veterans find it difficult to find meaningful employment when they separate from service. However, the purpose of the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is to provide opportunities for Veterans to retrain, and gain educational credentials in order to be productive as they transition back to civilian status.