Maximizing Your GI Bill Opportunities
Don’t miss out on maximizing your GI Bill opportunities because you believe one of these six myths.
- You can only use your GI Bill benefits for colleges and universities in the United States
- You can only use your GI Bill for a traditional college or university degree
- It doesn’t matter what school you use your GI Bill at
- You can’t combine scholarships with your GI Bill
- You can only be eligible for one GI Bill
- You can’t use the GI Bill if you want to be an entrepreneur or franchise owner
GI Bill Myth #1
You can only use your GI Bill benefits for colleges and universities in the United States.
Do you dream of getting your bachelor’s in business administration in London? How about a Masters in International Security in Paris? Can you imagine a study session in the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne?
Your GI Bill can make that happen.
If you are eligible for VA benefits in the United States, you are eligible to use your GI Bill to study overseas. The process is pretty straightforward but does require some planning.
After you’ve received your Certificate of Eligibility for your VA benefits and you’ve decided where you want to go to school, just confirm the program is approved for VA benefits, get squared away with the school on acceptance, enrollment, tuition and the usual college entrance requirements. Then settle all the travel and overseas living stuff like passports, visa and health insurance obligations.
It might take some time for the VA’s evaluation of you program. Make sure you’ve got money to cover expenses in case the VA evaluation and payment process takes longer than you expect.
GI Bill Myth #2
You can only use your GI Bill for a traditional college or university degree
Maybe the whole “hit the books” idea of a college degree sounds really boring. Does an on-the-job (OTJ) or an apprenticeship program get your hands itching to start a new career? Are you interested in becoming an EMT or aesthetician? Would an industry certificate like a CISSP get you to your next career goal.
The GI Bill can be used for a lot more than just college and university degrees
Your GI Bill can be used for an incredible range of career and professional development options. OJT and apprenticeship programs let you learn a trade or skill on the job as you actually do the job, not just read about it in a classroom. The Department of Labor has a list of hundreds of registered apprenticeships. Each state has its own agency to approve the programs – check yours.
While Active Duty folks can’t use their GI Bills for OJT and Apprenticeship programs, there are other ways both military members and veterans can use their educational benefits. For example, if you want to be an EMT or aesthetician, your GI Bill could cover the schooling for it because is it a Non-College Degree Program.
Are you feeling like you’re at dead end in your job? You can use your GI Bill to get a certification or license and get ahead in your career or branch out into different one. There are tons of licenses and certifications out there. While your education benefits may not cover the actual training course costs of say, the CISSP or a realtor’s license, they will cover the test fees, even if you fail and have to take it again.
There are even more ways to use a GI Bill for non-traditional education paths. For example, the Post-911 GI Bill has at least 10.
GI Bill Myth #3
It doesn’t matter what school you use your GI Bill at
You want the school you choose to process your admissions and billing without problems, right? You probably would like a chance to hang out with students who understand how the military shaped your worldview. You don’t want to run out of money before your degree is done, either.
Not all colleges and universities are equal when it comes to serving the military and veteran community and their GI Bill needs. Just like you took time to decide on your major, give some thought to the school you trust to help you get it done.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is finding out the school you picked isn’t the right one for you. Head on over to College Recon and check on their article “The Biggest Mistake GI Bill Users Make” for some great tips on how to avoid a waste of time and VA benefits because you settled for an easy college choice and not the best college fit.
GI Bill Myth #4
You can’t combine scholarships with your GI Bill
Are you worried that your VA benefits won’t cover all your school expenses? Maybe getting to classes mean you have to pay a babysitter or your grocery bill goes up. Maybe you just don’t want to pay anything out of pocket for your schooling.
You sure can use scholarships with your GI Bill.
Okay, yes, it’s complicated. There are two things to know. First, it depends on what GI Bill you are using, and second, what type of scholarship you are talking about. When looking into scholarships, make sure you understand how they pay out. If you use the wrong type, you can waste your VA tuition benefit and lose a lot of money you could’ve had for non-tuition expenses. Different GI Bills have different rules for how they work with scholarships. You have to know the scholarship rules for the one you are going to be using. Check with your VA benefits advisor for more information.
Don’t forget, the VA has some other programs that can combine with your GI Bill to help with your college expenses. The Yellow Ribbon Program helps with tuition costs that your Post – 911 GI Bill doesn’t cover. The Tuition Assistance Top-Up can also help with tuition costs for both Post – 911 and Montgomery GI Bill. The $600 Montgomery GI Bill Buy-Up program can help increase your monthly benefit it you are using the Montgomery GI Bill for your schooling.
GI Bill Myth #5
You can only use one GI Bill
You have the Post-911 GI Bill. You also have the Montgomery GI Bill. Wondering if you can use them both?
The VA permits you to use more than one GI Bill.
According to the VA, you can be eligible for more than one GI Bill, but you can only use them one at a time. If you combine them carefully, you can extend your benefit period to 48 months, instead of the 36 that you get individually. You’ll want to check with your benefits advisor to get the right combo for your school goals.
GI Bill Myth #6
You can’t use your GI Bill if you want to be an entrepreneur or franchise owner
You’re ready to take on the challenge of starting your own business and don’t want to waste time with a degree. Confident you’ll learn everything you’ll need to know about running a business from the franchisee handbook? Maybe you just want to pick up a few tips and skills to make your business better.
The VA lets you use your GI Bill for Entrepreneurship Training.
If you have a GI Bill, and are interested in opening a business or already have one, the VA wants to support you. You can use your GI Bill and get reimbursed for classes you take through your local Small Business Development Center. According to the VA, you can use your benefits more than once to take approved entrepreneurship classes. You can find out more about what’s available by checking out the Small Business Development Center online or at an office near you.
We’ve debunked 6 myths about what you can and can’t do with a GI Bill. Hopefully you’re inspired by all the options you have with yours. Check out College Recon for tons of articles to help you maximize your education and career opportunities now that you have the facts.