The transition from military to civilian life and navigating the GI Bill are difficult enough. We’re here to make you aware of the the biggest mistake GI Bill users are making, and how YOU can break the mold!

If you’re reading this, we are glad to know you are interested in using your benefit. Going back to school is only going to make your civilian future that much brighter! However, there is one BIG mistake we don’t want you to make.

GI Bill mistake

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The Biggest Mistake GI Bill Users Make…

…is using your GI Bill before you find the right school

Seems simple, right?  However, finding the ideal school for your needs is far more important that starting your degree program in a hurry. (It’s true!)

Sometimes the decision is rushed.  However, it takes time to reflect on what kinds of resources you need, whether that be an SVA Chapter for support, an on-campus Veteran Center, acceptance of ACE credit, or participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Reaching out to admissions counselors to get these answers before you go any further is critical. Instead of being wooed by the school’s degree programs, you first need to know if the basic support for student veterans is there.

Trust us, first make sure the foundation of veteran & military assistance is there!

How CollegeRecon can help

CollegeRecon was developed to provide active duty personnel and veterans and their families with a reliable source of not-for-profit institutions. So if you are looking for school with a specific list of characteristics and traits, or if you just want to find some good, veteran-friendly schools, CollegeRecon will help match you with the colleges and universities that fit that criteria.

GI Bill mistake

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What are some important considerations in selecting a university for veterans and military?

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a defined benefit generally lasting for 36 months. This could mean out of pocket costs towards your degree if you take longer than 36 months.  This could be due to transferring schools or changing your education goals.

Your own specific situation will also dictate some of your considerations.  Here are a few areas to consider –


  • does the school provide distance learning options?
  • are online courses/degrees available?

Military and Veteran Support

  • does the school have a Student Veterans of America (SVA) Chapter?
  • Does the school have an on-campus Veteran Center?

Credit for Military Experience

Does the school provide credit for military experience?

  • ACE Credit – Save time and money if the school provides credits for military experience
    • Talk to a counselor. CollegeRecon provides contact information for Veteran Counselors at nearly 3,000 campuses nationwide.  Search schools and find the contact information you need for each campus listed under the “Locations” section.

Are there out-of-pocket costs for tuition?

Is the school a participating Yellow Ribbon Program participant?

  • Private schools that exceed the tuition provided by the GI Bill benefit may incur out-of-pocket costs.

Note: Through the Yellow Ribbon program, participating schools have partnered with the VA to cover all or some of those costs.  Check their CollegeRecon profiles to see if they’re participating and contact them through the private messaging tool to find out how much they’ll cover.

You can also search at CollegeRecon and find Yellow Ribbon information on a by-school basis

Why is important that the school is a not-for-profit institution?

  • Transferability of credits – many for-profit schools are nationally accredited, while many traditional schools are regionally accredited. In the case of for-profit schools, this means that should you decide to transfer you may not be able to transfer any or all of the credits you earned to your next institution.


Information is key. Ask others where they enrolled and used their GI Bill. Then go to this resource to fully understand the veteran foundation that exists at that particular institution.

If that school is still looking attractive, then reach out to their admissions personnel through the same resource. (The best part is that you can communicate with admissions counselors without giving out your personal info!)

The more information you have, the better likelihood you have of making a sound decision on what is YOUR ideal school.


Featured Image Courtesy: Cole Keister