Curious about the GI Bill? Learn more about this valuable resource for free veteran education with this guide from Post University.
What to Know About the GI Bill
When young American service members returned from World War II to civilian life, they faced many hurdles. Attending college for most Americans, before the war, was not reachable. To help these heroes along, the government started the GI Bill, which provided funds for returning veterans to use to pursue their post-secondary education.
Over time, the GI-Bill has changed and grown, but it remains true to its original goal. Through the GI Bill, veterans can transition to civilian life more easily with the help of a college education and vocational training.
Post University wants all veterans to make the most out of this important benefit. By fully understanding the GI Bill and how it may apply to your education, you can ensure you are making the most of this option to pay for your schooling.
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What is the GI Bill?
The GI Bill is a collection of benefit programs designed to help veterans and active-duty members of the military earn an education. The program also helps some family members of veterans get finances to help with their schooling or professional training.
GI Bill Benefits
GI Bill benefits are quite generous. Depending on the program you qualify to receive, you may have money to pay for your tuition and fees while in college. You may also get a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and other supplies.
What Are the Different Versions of the GI Bill?
The GI Bill has several different programs available to veterans. You may qualify for just one of these, or you may qualify for several. Make sure you understand them all to get your full benefit amount.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
The most commonly used GI Bill version currently is the Post-9/11 GI Bill. After September 11, 2001, the government approved an addition to the GI Bill that allowed any service member to receive benefits as long as they served at least 90 days of active duty starting September 10, 2001. This benefit is up to 36 months of help. As of January 1, 2013, veterans had 15 years after their last 90-day active-duty period to use this benefit. Additionally, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the first version of the GI-Bill to provide an opportunity for eligible service members to transfer all or a portion of their GI-Bill benefits to their spouse or dependent children.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill also added the Yellow Ribbon Program to its wording. This program allows up to $24,476.79 a year for tuition coverage for students who choose a private school instead of a state school. This is unique to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, making it popular with students who have their sights set on private school education.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty
The Montgomery GI Bill has separate categories for active-duty service members and those in the reserves. The active-duty version requires service members to have at least two years of active duty before applying for benefits, at which time they can receive up to 36 months of tuition and other cost reimbursements.
Reserve and Guard Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill also has educational benefits for members of the Reserve and National Guard. Under this bill, some qualified members can receive the 36 months of educational benefits, provided they made a six-year commitment after June 30, 1985.
Forever GI Bill
The Forever GI Bill was signed into law in 2017. Also known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, this bill took away the 15-year expiration date for any veteran who left the military after January 1, 2013. It added more educational benefits to Purple Heart veterans, even if they do not have enough time-in-service to qualify under previous GI Bill programs. It also opened eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses or children of qualified veterans. Finally, the new program added funds and time for STEM programs that may take longer than four years to complete.
How to Use the GI Bill for Your Education
The first step in using the GI Bill benefit for your education is determining eligibility. To do this, veterans must receive a GI Bill Statement of Benefits. This will outline how much they are qualified to receive for their education. If you do not receive this, you can call the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 to request a Certificate of Eligibility. Many students find that the GI Bill will cover most of their education, sometimes even all of it, as well as provide them with a generous housing and book allowance.
Once you have your Statement of Benefits, contact the school you are considering and talk to their admissions department to see how you can apply your benefit to their program. Post University has people who are ready to help you understand how you can use your GI Benefits for online or on-campus education with us.
If college is not what your plans include, you can use the benefit to pay for other training programs. For example, it can be used to pay for an apprenticeship or to reimburse your license and certification costs. If you need tutoring or must take a college entrance exam, the GI Benefit may cover these costs, as well.
How to Transfer Benefits
If you are not going to use all of your GI Bill benefits and you qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill coverage, you may be able to transfer befits to your spouse or children. The Department of Defense is in charge of deciding whether or not a transfer is allowed. Your spouse or children may be eligible for benefits transfer if you have:
- Completed six years of service on the date you request transfer
- Agree to an additional four years of service
- Enrolled your dependent in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
To transfer the benefit, you must request the transfer through milConnect. If the Department of Defense approves it, then your family members may apply for benefits. They cannot apply for benefits until the transfer is approved.
GI Bill FAQs
If you think you are eligible to receive education benefits under the GI Bill, you may have some questions. Here are some common questions and their answers.
How to know if I am eligible?
To check your GI Bill benefit status, request a Certificate of Eligibility from the Education Call Center. Call 888-442-4551 to request this. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans may be eligible for benefits if they served on active duty for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001. Veterans may be eligible through the Montgomery GI Bill if they served at least two years on active duty or six years of service obligation in the Selected Service.
Does the length of time services affect GI Bill benefits?
Yes, the Post-9/11 GI Bill requires 90 days of service, while the Montgomery GI Bill requires at least two years of active duty.
Can I qualify for more than one benefit?
Yes, qualified veterans can be approved for more than one VA education benefit, but they can only receive payment from one at a time.
Is there a limit to the benefits?
Qualified veterans can only receive up to 48 months of benefits from the GI Bill VA education programs, regardless of the combination of benefits they use.
How long am I eligible to receive the GI Bill?
In most cases, you are eligible to receive benefits from the Post 9-11 GI Bill for the first 15 years after your last period of active duty of at least 90 days. The Montgomery GI Bill has a shorter eligibility period of just 10 years. Those who qualify under the Forever GA Bill do not have a time limit.
Can I use the GI Bill for online classes?
Yes, qualified veterans can use their GI benefits to pay for online classes. If you choose to use a Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit to pay for only distance learning courses, you can still receive a housing allowance, as well. The housing allowance is 50% of the national average.
Can I use the Post 9/11 GI Bill while on active duty?
Active-duty service members can begin using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits even while still serving. The requirement is that they complete at least 90 days of service to receive the benefit. Any GI Bill benefit received cannot be more than the military tuition assistance received at the same time. Also, GI Bill benefits cannot be more than the total for the student’s tuition and other fees.
Can my spouse get education benefits?
The spouse of a veteran who qualifies for GI Bill benefits can receive benefits if the veteran is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related disability, is in the hospital for a service-related permanent disability, or is held as a prisoner of war. Widows and widowers of qualified veterans who died in the line of duty can also receive GI Bill benefits.
In addition, veterans receiving benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill program may be able to transfer unused benefit awards to children or their spouses through the Transfer of Entitlement program. Under this program, the spouse or children may receive up to 36 months of benefits to pay for tuition, housing, and books.
The GI Bill can put education within reach for qualified veterans. If you have active-duty service in your past or are currently serving in the military, make sure you explore your GI Bill options to pay for your college education.
Post University has a number of programs that are ideal for veterans. As a Yellow Ribbon School, we have admissions counselors standing by who can help you understand how to use your GI Bill benefits to pay for tuition and other costs. Contact an admissions counselor today to see how you can put your military service to work for you as you head to college.
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