VA Education Benefits

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If you served in the United States Armed Forces, educational benefits may be available for you and/or your family members. Benefits fall into two distinct categories: Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill. Each program has specific eligibility requirements with different amounts of benefits for varying amounts of time.

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty

  • Those who first entered active duty after June 30, 1985
  • Three other less common categories also qualify
  • Have 10 years to use MGIB benefits after leaving active duty
  • Rate of benefit you receive is evaluated every October 1st

Post – 9/11 GI Bill

  • Those individuals who served active duty after September 10, 2001
  • Eligibility expires 15 years after last period of active duty
  • Limited to 36 months of payments
  • Covers all in-state tuition and fees (paid directly to the school)
  • If your charges exceed authorized amount, you may qualify for Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Full-time students can get a Monthly Housing Allowance (BAH)
  • Yearly books and supplies coverage of up to $1,000
  • Reserve and National Guard members who have three years of active duty after September 10, 2001 can qualify for full GI Bill benefits

This is a summary of some of the requirements but is in no way a complete review. For an accurate assessment of your eligibility, contact the Veterans Administration or your regional VA office. In addition to the funds you may receive from this benefit, you should still apply for financial aid and inquire if your employer offers a tuition reimbursement program. Also, be sure to ask your college if they offer a discounted military rate.  

VA Benefits can be used for degrees, certificates, or individual courses. If your program has been approved, check in with the school or training facility official who certifies enrollments. Certifying officials are typically located in one of the following offices: Financial Aid, Veterans Affairs, Registrar, Admissions, or Counseling. This person is responsible for verifying your enrollment and notifying the VA so you can continue to receive your benefit.  

Since there are so many caveats to each benefit, it is best to contact the Veterans Administration at www.gibill.va.gov or by calling 888-442-4551. You have earned these benefits through your hard work and service, so do not forget to take advantage of them! Thank you for your service.

Written by: Laurie Peltier

November 3, 2021

About the Author

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Laurie is a member of both the EdAssist Solutions and College Coach teams of college finance experts. She previously worked as Director of Financial Aid at Anna Maria College. Laurie holds a Master of Business Administration.