Montgomery GI Bill: Educational Benefits for Veterans

The Montgomery GI Bill provides education benefits to active duty veterans for three years of college and vocational training.

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The Montgomery GI Bill provides education benefits to active duty veterans and reservists for up to 36 months for college, vocational, technical and other training and work preparation programs.

This article discusses benefits available to active duty veterans, commonly referred to as Chapter 30. For information about Montgomery GI Bill benefits for reservists, commonly called Chapter 1616, visit the VA website.

Who Is Eligible Under the Montgomery GI Bill?

You may be eligible for education benefits under Chapter 30 if you:

  • served in the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty
  • have an honorable discharge
  • have a high school diploma, GED, or completed 12 credits at college, and
  • meet the criteria for one of the four categories described below.

First Category

You are eligible under the first category if you:

  • first served on active duty after June 30, 1985
  • contributed $100 a month to the Montgomery GI program for one year, and
  • served for:

    • three years in a row, or
    • two years if:

      • that was the length of the enlistment period, or
      • you joined the Selected Reserve within 12 months after leaving active duty and served as a reservist for four years.

Second Category

You are eligible under the second category if you:

  • were still eligible for benefits under the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Educational Assistance Program as of December 31, 1989
  • your first period of active duty enlistment was prior to January 1, 1977
  • between October 19, 1984 and June 30, 1985 you served on active duty for at least one day, and:

    • you remained on active duty through June, 30, 1988, or
    • within 12 months of leaving active duty, you began to serve within the Selected Reserve and you served for four years.

Third Category

You are eligible under the third category if you:

  • aren’t eligible under first or second category
  • contributed $1,200 to the Montgomery GI program before separation, and
  • was serving on active duty on September 30, 1990, and:

    • separated involuntarily

      • after 2/2/91, or
      • on or after November 30, 1993, or
    • separated voluntarily under the Special Separation Benefit program (SSB) or Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI).

Fourth Category

You are eligible under the fourth category if you:

  • contributed $100 a month to the Montgomery GI program for one year or made a one time $1,200 contribution, and
  • were on active duty as of October 9, 1996, and:

    • had unused funds remaining in a Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) account, and
    • elected to use the Montgomery GI Bill by October 9, 1997

OR

  • entered the National Guard between July 1, 1985 and November 28, 1989, and:

    • you elected to use the Montgomery GI Bill between October 9, 1996 and July 8, 1997.

VEAP is a program in which active duty members can elect to participate and make contributions to while in service. The government puts two dollars into the program for each one dollar contributed by the service member.

What Types of Education Are Covered?

The types of educational programs that veterans can get reimbursement for include:

  • colleges and technical or vocational schools
  • correspondence courses
  • job training and apprenticeship programs
  • flight training
  • high-tech training
  • certification and licensing exams
  • entrepreneurship courses, and
  • some entrance exams.

How Long Is Reimbursement Available?

Generally, these benefits are available for 10 years from the date of discharge.

Eligible veterans may receive up to 36 months of education benefits. However, veterans who left service without completing their full enlistment period will be entitled to only one month of education benefits for each month on active duty, not the full 36 months.

How Much Are the Required Payments?

Payment amounts vary based on type of training, length of service, type of eligibility, and whether the Department of Defense put "kickers" (extra money) into your fund. View payment rates on the VA Tuition Reimbursement Rateswebsite.

If you opted to participate in the $600 buy up program while on active duty, you are eligible for additional monthly reimbursement. The increased monthly amount is based on how much you paid into the buy up program. To find out what your additional monthly reimbursement will be, see the VA website on Buy-up Rates.

How to Apply for Benefits Under the Montgomery GI Bill

To apply, use VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. Submit your application to the VA Regional Office that covers the area where your educational institution is located. Make sure to apply within one year after beginning your educational program or course.

Electing to Use the Post-9/11 GI Bill

If you are eligible for benefits under both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you cannot receive benefits under both programs; you have to choose one. You can evaluate which program provides the best benefits for the type of program you are interested in pursuing.

It's important to know that if you elect to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, this election is irrevocable. This means you cannot later switch back to receiving benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. For this reason, it is best not to choose which program to participate in until you know for sure what educational program you would like to enroll in.

Use the VA Benefit Comparison Chart to choose which benefit program may be best for you.

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