All of the veteran benefits available to U.S. veterans are handled by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), including educational benefits that are offered through the GI Bill.
Enacted in 1944, the GI Bill provided the government with a way to provide educational and professional opportunities to veterans and their dependents through financial assistance needed to attend job training programs, graduate school or college.
GI Bill beneficiaries would then be able to use their VA benefits towards tuition, housing, educational programs offered abroad and other education related fees. There are two different versions of the U.S. GI Bill.
These versions include the Post 911 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill, so it is important to learn more about each bill in order to determine whether or not you qualify for benefits, how the program works and how you can apply for benefits.
In addition to the two GI Bills, the VA offers a number of other programs that can provide financial assistance to veterans that have completed periods of service as well as to a veteran’s dependents after a loved one has been lost in the line of duty. However, each of these programs include eligibility requirements that must be met and there are a number of factors that can affect the amount of benefits that a family may be eligible to receive.
Post 911 GI Bill
If you served on active duty for at least 90 days following September 10th, 2001, you will qualify for benefits under the U.S. Post 911 GI Bill. The Post 91 GI Bill covers tuition, fees and housing as well as up to $1,000 in books and supplies each school year.
Benefits can cover up to $22,805.34 of an in-state school’s full tuition amount as well as provide up to 36 months of VA education benefits that eligible veterans can use within 15 years. If you are interested in furthering your education, then it is important to understand that the amount of benefits that you or qualifying dependent can receive will be based upon the amount of active service that you devoted since September 10, 2001.
At 90 days of service on active duty, you will be eligible for 40 percent of the maximum amount of benefits allotted to qualifying veterans. However, after just three years, you will qualify for 100 percent of the maximum benefit amount.
In addition to the cost of education, it is worth knowing that benefits can also be used towards the cost of training, including:
- Flight training.
- Licensing and certification.
- Independent and distance learning.
- Co-op training.
- Entrepreneurship training.
Should you qualify for the maximum amount of benefits allowed beneath the Post 911 GI Bill, you may be eligible to apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program would help to pay for a more expensive out-of-state, private or graduate level of tuition that is not covered by the Post 911 GI Bill.
Montgomery GI Bill
While the Montgomery GI Bill also provides coverage for tuition or an academic program or training, there are a lot of differences between the Post 911 and Montgomery GI bills that you should be aware of.
The Montgomery GI Bill program has two parts. The first is designed for active duty military personnel while the other is focused on selected reserve.
In order to qualify for assistance, active duty members will be required to pay $100 per month for a year and fulfill the minimum service obligation. To qualify for the selected reserve program, members must fulfill a service obligation of six years while actively drilling.
When determining the amount of money that you may be able to receive under the Montgomery GI Bill, is important to know that a number of factors determine this amount, such as:
- How much you have pad into the $600 Buy-Up program.
- Whether or not you qualify for a college fund or “kicker”.
- The type of educational or training program that you would like to enroll into.
- The qualifications that have met.
Both of the Montgomery GI Bill programs offer VA benefits that can be used for up to 36 months. Similarly to the Post 911 GI Bill, benefits that you qualify for can be used towards technical or vocational courses as well as correspondence training and national testing reimbursement.
Additionally, if you are an active duty member that paid into the $600 Buy-Up program, then you can qualify for an additional $5,400 in benefits.
Other Educational Programs
In order to take advantage of all of the veteran benefits that you may qualify for, it is important to be aware of other educational programs and opportunities that you may be entitled to. In addition to the main GI Bill programs, you will also find a number of programs that are designed to provide assistance to eligible veterans, including the:
- Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP).
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program.
- National Call to Service Program.
VEAP in particular can be very beneficial to retired service members who are putting a portion of their military pay towards an educational fund as, through this program, the government will match the amount of money that you dedicate to your educational fund.
The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program offers two types of programs. These programs are the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (also referred to as the Fry Scholarship) and the Survivors’ Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.
The Fry Scholarship offers VA education benefits to spouses and children of military members who have died while serving after the date of September 10, 2001. Additionally, the DEA program offers assistance to children and spouses of disabled veterans and service members that have passed, are missing in action or have been detained by a foreign entity while on duty.
The National Call to Service Program provides benefits to military members who perform a period of national service designated by the Secretary of Defense. Through this program, qualifying members and veterans may choose an educational benefit, such as a cash bonus of $5,000 or a repayment of a student loan, for a maximum of $18,000.
Vocational Programs for Veterans
How to Apply for Educational Benefits
After reviewing the various VA educational benefits that you may qualify for, it is important to gather the information that you will need in order to complete an application. Application for VA educational benefits can be applied for online, by mail or in person.
You must be able to provide the following information:
- Your Social Security Number.
- Your direct deposit information for your bank account.
- Your education and military history.
- Information about the school or training facility that you would like to attend or are currently attending.
You can submit an online application through the VA website. After doing so, your application may take up to 30 days to process.
If you are approved for benefits, you will receive an award letter by mail confirming your approval. Should you rather submit an application by mail, you must contact your local GI Bill office and request an application be sent to you.
Alternatively, you may also visit your local VA regional benefit office in person in order to complete an application in person. For assistance in making your claim, you may get hire an attorney, VSO or claims agent. Any of these trained professionals would be able to help you obtain any benefits you may qualify for and help you gather any supporting documents that you may need.