Learn About the GI BILL

Educational assistance is an important part of the veteran benefit system, and the GI Bill is instrumental in aiding many U.S. veterans.

The cost of postsecondary education is prohibitively expensive for many students, and the GI Bill program makes an education possible for those who are unable to afford it otherwise.

Personnel on active duty, in the Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces, and their dependents, receive help through this program.

The funding available through the GI Bill program pays for your tuition and living expenses depending on your personal circumstances and eligibility.

The nature and length of your service affects your level of eligibility for the program, but even those with a short military service benefit from the GI Bill.

Several variations of the bill exist, each with its own eligibility requirements. Make sure to determine your program eligibility and the level of funding you may receive when making your future education plans.

Use the following information to explore the possibilities the GI Bills offer you.

About the Post 9/11 GI Bill

This bill program is available to those who have served at least 90 days of active duty since 9/11.

The 90 days do not need to be consecutive, but the length of your active service affects the amount of assistance you qualify for under this program.

If you have 36 months or more of active duty, you qualify for full financial assistance. Full assistance is available to those who have been discharged as a result of a service-related disability, following at least 30 days of active duty.

Less time spent on active duty means a percentage of your costs are covered.

The payment is dependent on your course load. If you are in full time education, as determined by your classes and credits, you are entitled to a higher benefit level than if you are only attending part time.

You can change your course load while receiving your benefits, but you must inform the VA immediately.

About the Yellow Ribbon Program

Some students may find that the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not cover all their expenses, even if they qualify for the full benefit.

This is because the benefit funds amount to the resident tuition and fees for a public school and are subject to other limitations for a private school.

Those attending private schools or going to school in a state where they are not residents benefit from the additional funding available through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The availability of this program depends on the school you are attending. If the school chooses to opt into the Yellow Ribbon Program, the VA matches the funds the school makes available to those receiving GI Bill funding.

This program is only available to those who qualify for the maximum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit amount.

Learn About the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill

The Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill is available to veterans who have served at least two years on active duty.

You qualify for this benefit in several different ways. Previous education qualifications are considered, as are the dates and length of your active duty.

These factors affect the amount of funding you receive.

This bill is available to those who served on active duty before 9/11, potentially giving older veterans the opportunity to pursue higher education.

You are generally permitted to use your benefits for up to 10 years after being discharged, but some exemptions to this exist.

Find Out About the Reserve and Guard Montgomery GI Bill

Those in the Selected Reserve benefit from the VA’s educational benefits.

To qualify for this bill, you must either have served six years in the Selected Reserve, or you must agree to do so as part of your application.

Additional qualifications must be met, such as completing your initial training before obtaining your benefits and maintaining good standing throughout your service.

There is a limit on the funding available for this benefit.

The full benefit is available for 36 months’ worth of payments.

How to Use Your Benefits

Apply for GI Bill benefits in several ways after you have determined your probable eligibility.

Make sure to allow at least 30 days for the application to be processed when planning your next education step. You can apply:

  • Online, through the VA website. The site provides a digital form for you to fill in and submit quickly and easily.
  • At a VA office. Regional offices are open across the country, and staff help you fill out and submit your application.
  • Over the phone. Call and have an application sent to you through the mail.
  • Through the school you wish to use the benefits at once you have chosen your preferred college or university. The Financial Aid or Registrar’s office helps in this process.

Apply to an approved school or training program or you may be unable to use your GI Bill benefits.

It is possible to use your benefits for an institution that has not been previously approved, but the school itself must request approval from the VA first.

After you have enrolled, the institution or educational program verifies your enrollment.

You are permitted to use your GI Bill benefits and other forms of student aid.

Do not list your benefit amount as income on your FAFSA, as this affects the other funding for which you are eligible. Instead, the benefit is considered a resource.

The rates available for tuition, housing allowance and other expenses vary, possibly changing for each new academic year.

Make sure to check how much your GI Bill benefits provide in each expense category.

Information for Dependents and Survivors

The dependents and survivors of those who served in the military benefit from the GI Bill.

A member of the armed forces may be able to transfer his or her benefits to a dependent, if the necessary requirements are met.

This includes serving six years of service and agreeing to serve four more or serving ten and agreeing to serve for the maximum time you are permitted afterward.

If you are the child or spouse of a service member who meets certain eligibility requirements, you may qualify for education benefits without requiring a transfer.

You may qualify if the service member in question was killed in the line of duty, is missing in action, was detained by opposing forces while on duty, or is being treated for a service-related disability.