Money is one of the major barriers to education in the US. To help eligible military personnel pursue degrees or vocational training, the US Department Of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers educational benefit programs like the GI Bill. This article will look at how the GI Bill works, how to get the GI Bill, and how to apply for the GI Bill benefits.
The GI Bill benefits are not only available for active-duty service members. They are also extended to out-of-duty veterans and eligible dependents of service members. But first, let’s go look at an overview of GI Bill benefits.
VA Education Benefits: A GI Bill Overview
A GI Bill is an education benefit granted to servicemen and servicewomen in military or veteran service to further their education or join a training facility. The aim is to empower the veteran community and improve their economic well-being. Education benefit rates differ depending on the number of years in service, the type of benefit you are applying for, and where you reside.
You can cover fees like public college tuition, books, refresher courses, training benefits, and even a non-college degree, depending on the GI Bill you qualify for. Some of the major factors that determine your eligibility are your military history and how your service ends. For example, you may qualify for full benefits with an honorable discharge or a military-connected disability.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, children and spouses of service members can also be eligible for months of education benefits.
|GI Bill Type||Benefits||Eligibility|
|Post-9/11 GI Bill||Tuition and fees in a public, in-state college, money for supplies and books, monthly housing allowance if you are in school more than half the time (depending on the housing costs around your school), money to relocate from your rural area to go to school||You have served at least 90 days of active duty (with or without breaks) after or on September 11, 2001, or
Received a Purple heart on September 11, 2001 and were discharged honorably after any amount of service, or you are a dependent child using benefits transferred to you by a qualifying service member or veteran, or
you have served 30 days without break on or after September 11, 2001 and were honorably released with a service-related disability
|Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)||Deficiency courses, refresher courses, remedial courses,||High school diploma, 12 hours of college credit or GED, you entered active duty the first time after June 30, 1985, your military pay was reduced by $100 monthly for the first 12 months of your service|
|Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)||College, technical, business, or vocational school, national certification tests, on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs certification or license costs, tuition assistance, correspondence courses, remedial, deficiency and refresher training, flight training||Completion of Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT)
after June 30, 1985, you signed the six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve, good standing with the drilling of the Selected Reserve Unit, you completed your GED or diploma before applying for IADT
How Does the GI Bill Work? Eligibility Requirements
The GI Bill education benefits help you pay for education or job training at any VA-approved institution. They are available to those who have been on active duty since September 10, 2001. You can also use the GI Bill to pay for some coding bootcamps. Check out the sections below to see the full benefit eligibility criteria for all three types of GI Bill benefits.
Who’s Eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
According to the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs, you qualify for the Post-9/11 Bill if you served for 90 days on or after September 11, 2001, or if you have a Purple heart and were honorably discharged after any amount of service.
You also qualify if you’re a dependant child utilizing the benefits from a qualified veteran or service member. People who have served for 30 continuous days on or after September 11, 2001, and were released honorably with a service-connected disability are also eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Post-9/11 GI Bill Eligibility Requirements
- You’ve served at least 90 days of active duty (with or without breaks) after or on September 11, 2001;
- Received a Purple heart on September 11, 2001, and was discharged honorably after any amount of service;
- You are a dependent child using benefits transferred to you by a qualifying service member or Veteran;
- You served 30 days without break on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably released with a service-related disability
Who’s Eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)?
You qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) if you have earned a diploma, 12 hours of college credit, or GED, and you entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985. It is also available to military personnel whose military pay was reduced by $100 monthly for the first 12 months of their service.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) Eligibility Requirements
- You have a high school diploma, earned 12 hours of college credit, or GED;
- You entered active duty the first time after June 30, 1985;
- Your military pay was reduced by $100 monthly the first 12 months of your service
Who’s Eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)?
You are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) if you have completed the Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT) after June 30, 1985, and have signed the six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve. You need to have good standing with the drilling of the Selected Reserve Unit and have completed your GED or diploma.
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) Eligibility Requirements
- Completion of Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT);
- After 30th June 1985, you signed the six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve;
- Good standing with the drilling of the Selected Reserve Unit;
- You completed your GED or diploma before applying for IADT
How Does the GI Bill Work? Summary of Benefits
GI Bill provides different educational benefits depending on its type. Its main goal is to ensure military personnel or veterans have access to training and career opportunities after leaving the service. The sections below will discuss the benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), and Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR).
Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
Eligible Post-9/11 GI Bill candidates are entitled to benefits such as tuition and fees at a public or in-state college. They can use the VA education benefits to cover expenses required for books and supplies. People who live in a less central area can also seek one-off relocation assistance and monthly housing allowance so they can move closer to their school.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) Benefits
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) benefits may cover programs such as college, technical school, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training for up to 48 months. Recipients may also use this GI Bill benefits to cover costs associated with flight training, refresher courses, deficiency courses, and remedial courses.
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) Benefits
Recipients of the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) may get up to $407 per month in training benefits for a maximum period of 36 months. It is open to members of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, and Air National Guard, among others. Those eligible for more than one benefit under the GI Bill can only choose one type of benefit.
GI Bill Application: What to Do Before Applying
- Determine your eligibility for education benefits. You should meet the respective eligibility criteria to qualify for a benefit. For example, if you wish to apply for the MGIB-SR benefit, you either have to be an officer in the Reserve and agreed to serve extra six years on top of your obligation or have signed a six-year service obligation in the Selective Reserve. Different criteria apply to all three education benefits.
- Learn about the GI Bill benefits available to you. There are three different benefits under the GI Bill initiative: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, and the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve. Each of these is dedicated to helping a unique group of veterans or active duty members and their dependents. Even if you qualify for more than one benefit, you can only receive one for a period of service.
- Gather the required documents and information. You will need to submit the right documents before applying. These documents include military and education history, social security number, basic information about the training facility or school you plan to or are attending, and bank account direct deposit information.
How to Apply for Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill Benefits: VA Application and Decision Process
If you’re wondering how to apply for the GI Bill benefits, we have curated a step-by-step guide to help ease your application process. Similar to any other education benefits, applicants must follow the right process, provide all required documents, and complete the application on time. The same set of rules applies to all three GI Bill benefits.
Step 1: Visit the Official Website
First, you need to visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs website. There, you’ll find comprehensive details specifying the different types of benefits for veterans. Check the specific link that corresponds with the GI Bill benefit that you are interested in.
Step 2: Fill Out the Online Application
Follow all the prompts and instructions on the website. Next, find the relevant form and fill out your application. Note that you cannot make any changes once the application is submitted, so ensure that you provide the right information.
Step 3: Know VA’s Decision
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll have to wait for approximately 30 days to know VA’s decision. If you have qualified for the GI Bill benefits you were applying for, then you can proceed with the next steps. If not, you can contact the VA for more information about appeals.
Step 4: Get the Certificate of Eligibility (CoE)
With your application being accepted, you’ll receive a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). This will be approximately 30 days from your application.
Step 5: Enrolment Verification Form
If you have already chosen a school by the time you’re applying, you can also fill out the VA Form 22-1999. However, if you are unsure of the school, you can skip this step.
How to Apply for GI Bill Benefits: Other Tips and Tricks
- GI Bill Comparison Tool. This tool helps you learn and compare employers, approved schools, and VET TEC providers. All you need is to enter the name of the institution or employer on the search bar.
- Explore your learning options. Once you have found a VA-approved institution to study at, you should look at the learning options available. If you live in a less central area, consider if a move is a good decision. If not, see if the school offers remote classes. Subsequently, take this into consideration when applying for GI Bill. If you need to ask for one-off relocation assistance, make sure you make the necessary preparations and provide relevant documents.
- Utilize all your educational benefits. Whether you are in military service, are a retiree, a separated veteran, or a veteran’s service dependant, you may qualify for several GI Bill benefits. Look at all options and make the best out of the military benefits. However, keep in mind that you are only eligible for one GI Bill benefit per period of service. You can always contact the VA to find out which benefit would be best for you.
How to Get the GI Bill Benefits That Are Right for You
To get the GI Bill benefits that are right for you, you must first determine which category you fall under. This can be accomplished by looking at the eligibility for benefits on the VA’s website. You can also consult your prospective school, use a comparison tool, or check with the VA.
Another crucial step is to determine the program that you wish to pursue. GI Bill benefit amounts vary. Some GI Bill benefits cover a percentage of tuition for college, degree, and coding bootcamp programs. Meanwhile, others cover remedial courses, deficiency courses, and refresher courses. Next, see if the GI Bill that you qualify for would cover your desired training.
Recipients of GI Bill benefits can still receive other assistance, such as federal education benefits. As such, you can be on the lookout for other resources to help fund your education. Keep in mind that the VA takes a minimum of 30 days to make a decision about your GI Bill application, so you may want to start your application far in advance.
GI Bill Application FAQ
No, you cannot use your GI Bill to buy a house. However, you can get financial aid to help with your housing allowance while in school, especially if you are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Benefit users who need to move closer to their school can also request one-off relocation assistance to shoulder some of the costs.
The period covered by the GI Bill benefits may vary depending on factors such as your length of service, reason for discharge from military service, training program, or GI Bill category. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, for example, most recipients are entitled to 36 months of career training or college if they were on active duty for 36 months. Refer to VA for more information.
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The minimum GPA required to continue enjoying GI Bill benefits is a 2.0. If your GPA drops below 2.0 in any future semester after reinstatement, you’ll be dismissed indefinitely from using GI Bill benefits.
It takes about 30 days to hear back about your GI Bill application. However, it can take up to six weeks to receive your benefits. The actual wait time may be longer if there are a lot of applicants for the same application period. The US Department of Veterans Affairs recommends that you begin your GI Bill application two months before your first day of school.
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