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Post-9/11 GI Bill: The Ultimate Overview

Post 9/11 GI Bill

There are several different versions of the GI Bill, but here we are discussing the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  About 80% of all users of the GI Bill utilize this version. To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must have active military service on or after September 11, 2001.

Some may qualify for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Some want to know how to transfer from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post-9/11 GI Bill so they can use the benefits listed below.

Post-9/11 GI Bill: All the Ways You Can Use It

  • College Degrees – Associate, Bachelor, or higher
  • Vocational/Technical Training, including non-college programs
  • On-the-Job/Apprenticeship Programs
  • Licensing & Certification Reimbursement
  • National Testing Programs like SAT, CLEP, AP, DSST
  • Flight Training
  • Correspondence Training
  • Work-study
  • Tuition Assistance Top-Up
  • Tutorial Assistance

Going to College or University

Sure, you can use your GI Bill to go to college; everybody knows that.  Did you know that you can use your GI Bill to get an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher?  If you have one degree, you can use your GI Bill to get another one.

If you are a bit rusty on your academic skills after being in the military, you can use your GI Bill for refresher training.

You can use your GI Bill at community colleges, state colleges, private colleges, online colleges, foreign colleges, and more.

What Costs Does the Post-9/11 GI Bill Cover?

    • Up to 100% Tuition and Fee Coverage
    • Monthly Housing Allowance (see GI Bill BAH Rates)
    • Up to $1,000 a year for Books and Supplies
    • Ability to Transfer GI Bill to spouse and dependents

Housing Allowance

If you go to a state school, the GI Bill covers tuition & fees for approved classes. You will also be provided a monthly housing allowance which varies depending on whether you attend in person, online only, or a combination of those options.

    • The GI Bill BAH Rate is equivalent to the Basic Allowance for Housing rate that an E-5 with dependents would receive.
    • Your housing allowance rate is based on the ZIP code of the school you are attending.
    • You are not eligible for a housing allowance if you are on active duty.
    • The GI Bill pays you up to $1,000 each year for your books.

There are a few differences if you attend a private or foreign school. Your tuition reimbursement is limited to a legislatively mandated maximum amount that changes yearly. 

Yellow Ribbon Schools

Schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program have partnered with the VA to help offset the costs not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  Here is a list of participating Yellow Ribbon Schools.

If you attend a foreign school, your housing allowance is based on the national average US housing allowance.

One more thing, if you are going strictly to online classes – no classroom sessions – your housing allowance is ½ the national average.

If you attend school as a less than full-time student, you only get a percentage of your GI Bill. So, if you only attend classes as a half-time student, you get half of the housing allowance, etc.

Still not enough? If you served less than 3 years of active duty, your payment will be reduced too. But this doesn’t affect most people.

>> Use CollegeRecon’s Program Matcher to find GI Bill®-Approved Schools.  This tool will take your Education Goals and find schools with matching programs.  

Most people think the GI Bill means college and nothing else. Well, we are here to tell you that yes indeed, the GI Bill does pay for college, but it also pays for so much more.

Vocational/Technical School

Want to learn a trade or sharpen your technical skills?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill will help you. If you want to go to a technical or trade school to learn:

  • Radiology Technician
  • Computer Networking
  • Cake Decorating
  • Law Enforcement
  • Dental Hygiene
  • And many more…

The GI Bill will basically pay you the same amount as if you were going to college.

Testing Programs – SAT, LSAT, GMAT, LCAT

Need to take a test to get into college like the SAT, LSAT, GMAT, or LCAT? Want to take a test for college credit like the CLEP, DSST, or AP test?

RELATED: Colleges With GMAT Waivers For Military

The GI Bill will pay you up to $2,000 for each test. There’s no limit to the number of tests you can take, and it doesn’t matter if you pass or not. You can even retake tests you passed if the test is required to recertify or keep a license you need for work.

Certification & Licensing Programs

Looking to get a certification or license for a profession such as:

  • Realtor
  • Mechanic
  • Medical Technician
  • Therapist
  • Computer Network Engineer
  • Website Developer
  • Project Manager
  • Other professionals

The GI Bill has that covered and your tests may be reimbursable by the VA.  There is no limit to the number of tests you can take, or number of times you may take the same test. And, VA will pay for tests even if you fail them.

The VA will pay you up to $2,000 per test.

On-The-Job and Apprenticeship Training

Want to become a master of skilled trades or professions like union plumber, firefighter, steamfitter, electrician, or gunsmith?

The GI Bill will pay for approved apprenticeship or on-the-job training programs that allow you to get paid your GI Bill money while you draw a paycheck.

The payment process for these programs works a bit differently than other GI Bill programs.

When you are in an apprenticeship program you draw a salary. Usually, you start out with a very low rate of pay and get raises every six months while you are in training. Depending on your job, an apprenticeship can last 18-36 months until you reach fully qualified or journeyman status.

To offset this, the GI Bill payments are as follows:

  • 1st 6 months of training – 100% of your applicable housing allowance
  • 2nd 6 months you get 80% of your applicable housing allowance, but you get a raise from your employer
  • 3rd 6 months you get 60% of your applicable housing allowance, but you get another raise from your employer
  • 4th 6 months you will receive 40% of your applicable housing allowance, but you will get another raise from your employer
  • For the remainder of your training, you will get 20% of your applicable housing allowance

You also get up to $83 per month for books and supplies.

Flight Training

If you flew planes in the military, you might like to do that after you get out. The problem is that to fly commercial aircraft, you usually need platform-specific qualifications. These qualifications can be very expensive; for example, a B787 rating can cost you upwards of $30,000, depending on your current certification. The GI Bill will help you pay for those expensive classes.

To get a flight rating, you usually need classroom, simulator, and flight hours, this can vary. For example, if you’ve already qualified on the MH60 or UH60 helicopter, you may not need as many sim, flying, or classroom hours as somebody who has never flown one.

To get any GI Bill payments, you need to be in possession of a private pilot’s license and an FAA medical certification.

Flight School Payment Amounts

Payment amounts vary depending on what type of school you are going to.

If you are enrolled in a:

Degree program that consists of flight training at a state college

You can basically expect to get your full cost paid for by the GI Bill, a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books-and-supplies. However, this is very rare as there aren’t a lot of state colleges offering flight training.

Degree program that consists of flight training at a private college

You can be reimbursed up to the full cost of the training or the legislatively mandated national maximum amount (whichever is less) each year. You may also receive a monthly housing allowance and books-and-supplies stipend.

Vocational flight training program

You can be reimbursed the cost of the training up to the annual maximum amount which is mandated by law. Currently, that annual maximum amount is $$15,075.05 in 2023, up from about $14,880.

Tuition Assistance Top-Up

If you’re on active duty, you may use Tuition Assistance. Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

While Tuition Assistance technically can pay the full cost of your college tuition, in reality, most branches will normally pay a maximum of 75% of the actual tuition. You must pay for your books and other expenses out-of-pocket.

This is where Tuition Assistance Top-Up comes in. The Tuition Assistance Top-Up program will pay you your GI Bill to make up the difference between what Tuition Assistance pays and what your actual charges are.

Tuition Assistance Top-Up can be a good or a bad use of your GI Bill. Normally, it isn’t a good one and not one we’d recommend.

Using Tuition Assistance Top-Up is a good deal if you plan to use Tuition Assistance to complete a degree while on active duty, and don’t plan to continue your education after service.

Tuition Assistance Top-Up can also be helpful for just taking a few courses with Tuition Assistance while on active duty. Then you can save most of your GI Bill to use after you get out of the military to complete your education in a military friendly college.

You need to consider carefully your own situations, and check with your education officer or counselor, before applying for Tuition Assistance Top-Up.

Tutorial Assistance

OK, you’re going to college and having a hard time of it, in fact, you may be close to failing your classes, don’t despair. The GI Bill will even pay you to hire a tutor to help you get back on track with your classes.

The VA will pay you up to $100 a month for a private tutor, up to a maximum amount of $1,200. The tutor must meet the college’s qualifications and can’t be a close relative.

So, as you can see if you are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill you have lots of different options on how you can use it. The GI Bill is a great benefit that most people don’t get, make sure you use it.


NEXT STEP: How to Get Your Post-911 GI Bill Benefits





About the author

Terry Howell is a retired Coast Guard veteran, where he served for 20 years.

He is currently the Executive Director for Veterans' Legacies, a non-profit that works to preserve veterans personal stories to help educate our youth.

Terry is also the author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.