Everything You Need To Know About Using Your Gi Bill Benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill Explained

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Veterans of the post-9/11 era are offered a very large education benefit thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. All of your educational costs, including housing and meal allowances, as well as a book and supply stipend for up to 36 months, will be covered. After World War II, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, which laid the groundwork for the GI Bill by guaranteeing veterans access to higher education and housing. The current version of the GI Bill, which has been revised multiple times to help veterans of war and peace, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 and took effect the following year. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 made more changes to the GI Bill.

Is the GI Bill available to anyone?

Whether you are still in the military or have been honorably discharged, if you have served on active duty for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001, you are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The proportion of total benefits you are eligible to receive is based on the number of years you served in active duty.

To determine qualification, the VA currently employs the following scale:

  • One hundred percent: dismissed owing to a service-connected disability after at least 30 consecutive days (or 36 months) of active duty
  • Nearly 90 percent: Minimum of 30 months, maximum of 36 months
  • There is an 80 percent chance that More than 24 months but less than 30
  • About 70 percent: Time Period: 18 months minimum, 24 months maximum
  • 60 percent: Greater than 12 months and less than 18 months
  • 50 percent: Six months minimum, twelve months maximum
  • About 40 percent: No fewer than 90 days, and no more than 6 months
  • Zero gain: Fewer than ninety days

However, there is no need to commit this information to memory; in August 2020, a section of the Forever GI Bill will go into force, and the details will shift. Half of all rewards will be paid out between the same time frame of 90 days and six months. Those who have served for between six and eighteen months will be eligible for 60 percent of the full benefits package.

The Marine Gunnery John David Fry Scholarship Program may make the benefits of the GI Bill available to the children or spouses of service members killed in action on or after September 11, 2001. Children under the age of 33 and a surviving spouse who has not remarried during the preceding 15 years are eligible for these benefits in full.

The process for requesting your own GI Bill

You can submit your application for GI Bill benefits online or at a VA regional office in your area.

Putting in an application is easy, especially if done online. This form requires information on your military service, your academic career, and the institution you wish to attend. Be sure to have your Social Security and account details on hand, as well. (While the payments for tuition and fees are made directly to the schools, the housing and textbook allowances are made directly to you.)

Feel free to contact your university’s certifying official if you have any questions or concerns. This individual can help you fill out the application, and they usually work in the registrar’s office or the financial assistance office.

Certificate of Eligibility for the Veterans Affairs Benefits Program

A certificate of eligibility detailing your specific benefits will be sent to you by the VA once you submit your application. At the time of enrollment, you will need to provide this paperwork to the school of your choice.

Your school cannot charge you late fees or impose other restrictions if there is an outstanding amount on your account due to circumstances beyond your control and your certificate of eligibility serves as confirmation that payment is coming.

Remember that the VA may take some time before issuing your certificate of eligibility.

How much money is there for tuition under the GI Bill?

Tuition and fees, a housing allowance, and a book and supply allowance are all covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The GI Bill fully pays the in-state tuition and fees for students attending public universities, however, it may not apply to private or for-profit institutions. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the maximum allowed by such institutions across the country is set at $24,476.79. This number often rises by a small amount every year.

Find out if your institution is a part of the Yellow Ribbon program if the GI Bill isn’t enough to cover your education expenses. This is an arrangement whereby colleges and the VA work together to reduce or eliminate the portion of tuition, fees, and other educational expenses that are not covered by the GI Bill. Currently, the program is open exclusively to service members who have already served and their surviving dependents, but soon, it will be available to active-duty service members as well.

Many colleges, including the Ivy League, take part in this initiative.

Should I use the GI Bill if I’m still in the military?

If you’re willing to put in the required amount of service, yes. Maybe, but do you really want to?

While on active service and utilizing your GI Bill benefits to pay for school, you will not receive a monthly housing stipend from the GI Bill in addition to the housing allowance you are currently receiving from the military. That housing stipend could be worth as much as the tuition waiver, depending on where you go to school. As a result, the money you receive through the GI Bill will be significantly less than what you may get after leaving the service.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide.

Housing benefits under the GI Bill

Your monthly housing allowance is determined by your benefit eligibility percentage and the number of credits you are enrolled in.

The VA determines your housing allowance based on the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates established by the Department of Defense. The current cost of living for an E5 with dependents is based on the average salary in that area (not your current location). (Your status won’t affect how much money you get.)

However, the location of the school where the majority of a student’s classes are held will be used to calculate housing allowances under the Forever GI Bill. Your monthly stipend will more accurately reflect the cost of living if you attend a satellite college miles, or even states, away from the main campus.

By providing a GI Bill Comparison Tool, the VA has done a lot of the legwork for you. Use the search bar to look up a certain institution, and then click on the resulting list to view the monthly stipend amount for that institution.

It’s important to keep in mind the following:

Half of the standard BAH rate applies if you’re a full-time student enrolled in an online program. That works out to $894.50 a month for the 2019-2020 academic year. If you want the convenience of online courses and the financial savings of attending classes on campus, some educators advise taking at least one course in person.

This portion of the GI Bill is not available to those who are enrolled in school less than full-time or who are dependents of a military member who has transferred their benefits to them.

When and how to use the GI Bill to transfer between schools

Changing schools after using the GI Bill is quite similar to applying for the GI Bill first. Information such as your Social Security number and bank account information will be required along with basic information about your military service, educational background, and intended place of higher study.

All of this can be done remotely or at a VA regional office.

Methods for verifying current eligibility for the GI Bill.

In order to keep track of your GI Bill benefits and determine how much you have left, it is crucial that you keep your eBenefits account active.

Providing for Your Dependents with Your GI Bill

Transferring the GI Bill to your family members is an option to think about if you have already earned your degree or have no plans to further your education.

You need six years of service under your belt and the ability to serve for another four years after your transfer is approved by the Department of Defense to be considered for a transfer.

The Department of Defense recommended capping eligibility for the transfer option after 16 years of service in early 2019. However, legislators in Congress killed the plan in December by inserting wording to that effect into the yearly defense authorization bill.

All of the foregoing does not apply if you have been awarded the Purple Heart while serving in the armed forces; you may transfer your GI Bill benefits to family members at any time.

When transferring GI Bill benefits to a dependent child, that child must be under the age of 18 or under the age of 23 for some eligible programs. The dependent must be at least 18 years old or a high school graduate to qualify for the GI Bill.

You can begin the process of transferring your benefits by accessing DMDC milConnect. One might start by filling out the “I wish to” section at the top of the website. Choose the “Transfer my education benefits” link and go from there.

Fun/unconventional/innovative approaches to utilizing the GI Bill

The GI Bill can be used in a variety of non-traditional learning environments in addition to typical campus-based institutions. It can be used for distance education, such as online or correspondence courses.

Assist is available for anyone who would like to launch their own company.

There are tutoring services available to help students succeed in their academic pursuits.

Your benefits may also be applied toward vocational training, such as an apprenticeship or pilot school. The SAT and the LSAT, among other standardized tests used for entrance, are also included.

Many degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields need longer than the typical four years of college to finish, thus veterans who choose to major in these fields are eligible for additional GI Bill benefits. The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship fund was established under the Forever GI Bill, and it will award up to $30,000 in scholarships to students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics on a first-come, first-served basis. This fellowship is open to veterans and the dependents of veterans who have died in service.

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About the Author: Brian Novak