GI Bill Education Information & Benefits
The GI Bill is one of the greatest benefits afforded to our nation’s service members. It has the power to transform the life trajectory for its recipients, many of whom could not pay for a college education without it. In a time when student debt is a hot-button topic, members of the military community can achieve their education goals and not be burdened with student loans.
What is the GI Bill?
Believe it or not, The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights – was a controversial piece of legislation that almost didn’t happen. The bill stalled in Congress as legislators for both the House and the Senate debated the provisions it contained. Both sides of congress agreed that something must be done about education and homeownership, but the unemployment provisions were at the center of the debates.
Why would legislation that benefits Veterans be so controversial?
According to the VA’s history of the bill, some congressmen “shunned the idea of paying unemployed veterans… because they thought it diminished their incentive to look for work.” Still other lawmakers “questioned the concept of sending battle-hardened Veterans to colleges and universities, a privilege then reserved for the rich.”
Before World War II, college education and homeownership were just pipe dreams for the average American. With the passing of the original GI Bill, which ended on July 25th, 1956, an estimated 7.8 million of the 16 million World War II Veterans had participated in an education program.
In 1984, former Mississippi Congressman Gillespie Montgomery overhauled the GI Bill to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would benefit the next generation of combat Veterans. The impact was so great that it became known as the Montgomery GI Bill and still has beneficiaries to this day.
In 2008, the GI Bill changed again, this time to enhance the benefits for those Veterans with active duty service on or after September 11, 2001. The upgrades covered more educational expenses than previous versions of the GI Bill, provided a living allowance while in school, granted money for books, and introduced a dynamic provision that allowed for the transfer of unused education benefits to spouses or children.
What does “GI Bill” stand for?
The phrase “GI Bill” is actually the combination of two separate parts.
The “GI” is commonly understood to mean “government issue” or “general issue”.
The origins of the phrase are not clear, but it became a popular and widely-used moniker for the American Soldier. According to the History Channel, some soldiers in World War II used the phrase “as a sarcastic reference symbolizing their belief that they were just mass-produced products of the government.
The name GI Joe became synonymous with US Soldiers. Cartoonist, Dave Breger, is credited with coining the phrase when he began publishing his comic strip, “G.I. Joe” in 1942.
The “Bill” portion of the GI Bill stems from the name of the legislation that brought the Bill into existence: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. This legislation was known as the “GI Bill of Rights”, which played off the Bill of Rights of 1791, which made up the first 10 amendments of the Constitution.
As with most things in Congress, the legislation’s nickname, GI Bill of Rights, was likely a rhetorical device employed to highlight the government’s obligation to its war veterans.
Types of GI Bills
The following sections highlight the different versions of the GI Bill that may apply to you. Keep in mind, you may be eligible for education benefits under more than one of these programs.
To compare the differences between these programs, consult the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) is one of the newest versions of the GI Bill. It was the first to allow for the transfer of education benefits from the service member to their spouse or children.
It offers assistance with:
- Tuition and fees
- Money for housing
- Money for books and supplies
- Money to help move from rural area to attend school
Forever GI Bill
When Congress passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, a.k.a. Forever GI Bill, it expanded the education benefits for Veterans, service members, and their families.
This legislation offers enhanced provisions, including:
- Reserve Duty that counts toward Post-9/11 eligibility
- Purple Heart Recipients
- Extensions to the Yellow Ribbon Program
- Licensing and Certification changes
- Assistance for students affected by school closures
Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
The Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) can help pay for education and training programs for those Veterans who served at least 2 years on active duty.
The MGIB has multiple categories of eligibility. It even hosted a $600 Buy-Up program that increased the amount of benefit paid each month.
Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) offers up to 36 months of education and training benefits to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard who are in the Reserves, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard.
This program was designed to bring the education benefits offered through active service to those Veterans serving on a Reserve-type status.
Other GI Bill Benefits You May Qualify For
The VA hosts the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program which matches Veterans to a training provider to help develop high-tech skills.
READ: VET TEC GI Bill Program
The Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) allows Veterans to continue their education by using part of their military pay to cover some school costs. This program boasts a $2 to $1 government match for educational assistance.
Survivors & Dependent Assistance
These benefits, also called Chapter 35 benefits, are for dependents and survivors of a deceased Veteran. These education benefits can provide:
- Education & training
- Money for tuition
- Money for housing
- Money for books and supplies
A college or university may offer a co-op training program, which allows you to get full-time work experience in between school instruction. Assistance may be available to you which can cover some expenses – like books, tuition, and housing.
READ: Co-Op Training
If you are completing coursework online or via the mail system, you may be in correspondence training. These education options are excellent if you wish to take classes at home, or if you do not live close to any schools.
Your VA education benefits may help pay for your correspondence training.
If you are interested in starting a business, the VA offers training through the Small Business Administration. It is possible for you to use your GI Bill benefits to access this training and set you on a path of entrepreneurship.
You must qualify for one of these programs to participate:
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill – Active or Selected Reserve
- The Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
If you meet certain eligibility requirements, it is possible for you to use GI Bill benefits to pay for flight training, or to advance your pilot qualifications.
READ: GI Bill Flight Training
Non-College Degree Programs
You can use the GI Bill to pay for specialized training programs, like:
- HVAC Repair
- Truck Driving / Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training
- Barber / Beautician school
Using the GI Bill for these types of training programs can help pay for tuition. They can even cover some books and supplies for your training.
On-The-Job & Apprenticeship
Some GI Bill training programs can help pay for books, supplies, and housing while you learn a trade or skill through on-the-job training or apprenticeships.
The GI Bill can cover some expenses for training programs, like:
- Hotel Management
For most of the VA’s education benefits programs, you can participate in work-study programs through your college, vocational school, or professional training program.
READ: VA Work Study Program
Qualifications & Eligibility
Each program offered by the VA has eligibility requirements. Some have very specific requirements, and you may find that you qualify for more than one benefit.
Check out the eligibility requirements for each program:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
- Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
- VET TEC
- Survivors & Dependents
- Co-Op Training
- Correspondence Training
- Entrepreneurship Training
- Flight Training
- Non-College Degree Programs
- OJT & Apprenticeships
- Work Study
What Can the GI Bill Be Used For?
As mentioned above, the GI Bill is a tremendous benefit that can pay for tuition, books, supplies, and even housing costs, in some cases.
The goal of each of the VA’s education and training programs is to provide every opportunity for service members, veterans, and their dependents to achieve their education goals.
How to Apply for Benefits
Just as there are unique requirements for eligibility in some VA programs, there also some specialized requirements for applying to different programs. While they are not all the same, they share one thing in common: the Department of Veterans Affairs.
You must apply for each of the programs we’ve covered through the VA. The following are links to assist you during the application process.
After you’ve determined that you are eligible for VA education benefits, you will need to gather the following information for the application process:
- Social Security number
- Bank account / Direct Deposit information
- Education and military history
- Basic information about the school or training facility you wish to attend
Once you’ve gathered those items, you are ready to use the VA’s “Find Your Education Benefits Form”, which is a drop down questionnaire that will guide you through the process of applying.
You will be prompted to login to the VA.gov website. You have the following sign-in options:
- Sign in with DS Logon
- Sign in with My HealtheVet
- Sign in with ID.me
If you don’t have one already, create an ID.me account here.
Please note, while it is possible to apply for VA education benefits without creating an account, it is most beneficial to create such an account to make the process easier.
If you do not wish to apply online, you have other options.
Apply by Mail
You can call 888-442-4551, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, to request that an application be sent to you. Once it arrives, fill it out and mail it to the VA regional claims processing office that’s in the same location as your school.
Here’s a list of regional claims processing offices, for your convenience.
Apply in Person
You also have the option to go to a VA regional office and have a VA employee assist you with your application.
Use this tool to find a VA regional office near you.
If you already have a school picked out, or even if you’ve been accepted into a school, work with your school’s certifying official. This person is usually found in the Registrar’s or Financial Aid office, and they can assist you with filling out your forms.
VSO Assistance with Application
If you need help applying for education benefits, you can also seek the assistance of a Veteran Service Officer (VSO). The VSOs are trained and certified in the VA administrative processes and can assist with all your VA-related needs.
If you choose to work with a VSO, you will need to fill out an Appointment of Individual as Claimant’s Representative (VA Form 21-22). This will allow the VSO to work with the VA on your behalf.
GI Bill Calculator
Did you know that College Recon offers a BAH Calculator? You can use this amazing tool to determine the rate of your housing allowance when using GI Bill benefits.
It’s also handy for military families who are moving to determine the BAH for the location of their future PCS moves.
Check out our GI Bill BAH Calculator!
Schools that Accept the GI Bill
In order to use your education benefits, a school must be able to accept them. Not all schools are eligible to receive your GI Bill benefits, so it is imperative to verify that your school of choice can.
Use the VA’s School Search tool to find out which schools they have approved.
Use the VA’s GI Bill Comparison tool to see what benefits you could get at different schools.
Read the VA’s “Factors to Consider When Choosing a School” guide when choosing where to use your education benefits.
Yellow Ribbon Schools
The Yellow Ribbon Program can assist you with paying for higher out-of-state, private school, foreign school, or graduate school tuition and fees. Some of these fees and higher tuition rates are not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, so this program is definitely something to look for.
Read about the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program to determine your eligibility.
Use this tool to find out if your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.
READ: Yellow Ribbon Schools
Payment Schedules & Pay Dates
The following are the current rates for the different GI Bill Programs:
Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) – Rates effective August 1, 2021
Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-AD/Chapter 30) – Rates effective October 1, 2021
Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-SR/Chapter 1606) – Rates effective October 1, 2021
Survivors & Dependents (Chapter 35) – Rates effective October 1, 2021
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates are changing almost every year. It is imperative to stay on top of these changes because they impact you directly. Whenever the rates change, we update our information so you can easily find it.
READ: Post-9/11 BAH Rates
Top 8 FAQ’s on Education, the GI Bill, Transitioning
As much as we try to give you all the information about GI Bill benefits, there are always questions that are unique to you. If you ask us a question, we will find the answer!
*The answer to each question is hyperlinked.
- Should I get an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree?
- Can I get college credit for military experience?
- Where do I start researching for the right college/university for me?
- How do I steer clear of for-profit colleges and universities?
- Will I receive my GI Bill benefits as soon as I enroll in a degree program?
- How do I make a smooth transition from military to campus life?
- Can I use my GI Bill while I’m active duty?
- How do I stay up-to-date on GI Bill news?
More Resources on the GI Bill
So what happens after you apply for GI Bill benefits?
Once you’ve submitted your application, the VA’s average time to process education claims is 30 days. That’s a big improvement from where it was a few short years ago!
In the meantime, you can take advantage of the VA’s educational and career counseling services available to you as a veteran and student.
Once your application is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which is the award letter showing your approval. Bring your COE to the VA certifying official at your school so they can apply your GI Bill benefit to your education.
As a veteran, your education benefits are one of the greatest benefits you can use. From the moment you transition, you have every opportunity, every path, and every chance to achieve your educational goals.
Whether you’re trying to get new skills and training, or studying the one subject you love most in the world, you have earned the resources offered through the VA’s many GI Bill options.
Take that first step to the future you wish to make!
- Forever GI Bill
- Transferring Your GI Bill to Spouse and Dependents
- Beyond the Post 9/11 GI Bill: Additional Money for Veterans
- Biggest Mistake GI Bill Users Make
- 8 Misconceptions About the GI Bill
- Colleges with the Highest GI Bill BAH Rates
Overview of the Post-9/11 GI Bill covering all the different ways this important benefit can be used to further your education and career prospects.
For Veterans using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), on October 1, 2021, your benefit payments are set to increase by an average of 2.6% over the previous year’s rates. MGIB Active Duty – Chapter 30 In 2020, the rate for a full-time student was $2,122, while a half-time student received $1061. The new rates for…
Post 9/11 GI Bill Recipients Can Verify Their Courses Via Text With the new 2021-2022 school year, there has been a change with the verification process for those who are receiving the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Those who are receiving MHA and/or Kicker payments will need to verify their enrollment in order to continue…
You’ve served your country, and now you’re moving on. As a veteran, there are many opportunities available to help you pay for college.
Howard University is now offering student veterans an interest-free loan of $3,000 after an investigation revealed that the prestigious D.C. university lost its accreditation. Students are required to repay the loan by December 14, 2021, which is the end of the fall semester. However, some students may not be able to pay the loan back…
Ever get frustrated with the VA’s GI Bill platform? You aren’t alone. Learn about the upgrade and get informed about VA’s GI Bill.
In mid-March, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 was introduced, which would make it easier for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to accumulate GI Bill benefits. Read how this new legislation may help and how it may impact education benefits for the Guard and Reserve.
A rule change by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beginning April 1, 2021 expanded opportunities to Veterans. Learn more about the new rules.
Thinking about using the GI Bill? We have summarized guidelines provided by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Read how to use the GI Bill at CollegeRecon.
Signed into law on January 5th, 2021, the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020 will make several significant changes to your existing benefits programs. Here are the changes that will affect your GI Bill and veterans education benefits next year.
On October 28, 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sent emails to those of us who have used, are using, or are eligible to use the GI Bill, notifying us of big changes to the “48-Month Rule” that has applied to some veteran students and beneficiaries.
Summary of all the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that the VA has answered and posted online regarding Covid-19, veterans education benefits and GI Bill payments.
GI Bill Extensions Available Due to COVID-19 ATTENTION GI Bill Beneficiaries: Thanks to the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 and Public Law 116-140, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been authorized to extend the eligibility periods for students who were pursuing a course of instruction with their GI Bill benefits when their school…
Maryland First State to Protect Veterans from College Profiteering Effective July 1st, 2020, the Veteran’s Education Protection Act, which was passed in the Maryland General Assembly on May 7th, removes any incentive for an educational institution operating in Maryland to employ deceptive practices that defraud veterans. What’s the Issue? There has been a practice at…
Transferring GI Bill to Dependent: A Personal Account Perhaps you are an Airman whose wife wants to go back to school and get her Master’s degree. Maybe you are a senior in high school contemplating a four-year university whose mom is a Marine. Regardless of the type of higher or supplemental education being sought, finding…
Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 On April 28th, 2020, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 was signed into law by President Trump. The bill was introduced in late-March by Representative Mark Takano (D-CA-41) and gathered widespread support by many in Congress over the past few weeks. The law addresses education programs…
Don’t miss out on maximizing your GI Bill opportunities because you believe one of these 6 myths. We debunk these GI Bill myths so that you can make the most of your military education benefits.
Technology is something we cannot live without in today’s society. We are dazzled, delighted, and inundated by it, and it reaches into nearly every aspect of our lives. These days, most kids seem to have IT skills innately woven into their DNA. I watch in awe as my children program on Minecraft, create their own…
After your service, you may be eligible for the GI Bill. Get helpful information about finding the right school and those who participate in the Yellow Ribbon program.
Update 03/21/2020: The legislation to protect veterans from the impact of campus closures has been signed by President Trump, thus safeguarding GI Bill benefits (Housing Stipend) from being reduced for veterans who were forced to take classes online due to the coronavirus. House and Senate lawmakers have introduced bills that could stop the impact of…
If one of your parents has served in the military and can receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, they might be able to transfer those benefits to you. That way, you can pay for college to get the education you want. However, sometimes things can go wrong. Here’s one person’s GI Bill horror story.
Full MHA Rates For Hybrid Classes With The Post 9/11 GI Bill Starts Now As of August 15th, 2019, hybrid classes will now be eligible for the full MHA (Monthly Housing Allowance) rates for housing with your Post 9/11 GI Bill. This will apply for classes that start Aug 15th, 2019 or later. It is…
On August 1st, 2019, Post-9/11 GI Bill payment rates changes will go into effect for the 2019-2020 school year. The rates change each year to keep up with the average cost of undergraduate tuition rate changes in the US. These amounts below are for those who receive 100% of their Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33),…
Not all programs are created equal. You’ll want to make sure that your degree program is GI Bill eligible. Schools aren’t “GI Bill approved”, but degree programs must be. Make sure to verify that your degree program is GI Bill eligible. Verify GI Bill Eligibility of Your Degree Program There are a couple of key points…
One great aspect of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, was the ability to transfer to your spouse or dependents. Up until this week, the changes with GI Transferability were due to take place on July 12, 2019. However, the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer changes have been delayed to January 12, 2020. Giving 6 more months before this goes into effect.
The process for getting your GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is relatively easy. There’s one thing you definitely need to remember. Submit your “Application for VA Education Benefits” well before you fully enroll in school. Why Do You Need To Submit GI Bill COE Early? The VA clearly states that the process takes up…