The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides educational benefits for veterans who were honorably discharged from active duty. The Post-9/11 GI bill provides educational benefits for veterans who served in the military after September 10, 2001. This article discusses eligibility for veterans under this program, benefit types and amounts, and types of education covered.
Am I Eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits?
To be eligible for veterans educational benefits, you must have served 90 days total on active duty after September 10, 2001. In certain cases, this includes active service by the National Guard. If you did not serve a total of 90 days but were discharged due to a service-connected disability after serving 30 days in a row, you are eligible.
You must have an honorable discharge or have been discharged under special circumstances, such as for hardship or disability.
Eligibility for benefits lasts for 15 years following your last period of service that lasted at least 90 days. If you were discharged due to a service-connected disability after 30 days or more of service, your eligibility will end 15 years from the date of your discharge.
If you were eligible for the Montgomery GI bill as of August 1, 2009, and are also eligible for the Post-9/11 GI bill, you can elect to receive your benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, if you do so, you will not be able to change your mind and change back to receiving benefits under the Montgomery GI bill.
How Much Will I Receive?
The amount of the benefit paid will be based how long you were on active duty. You will receive a percentage of the current payment rates based on the length of your service. If you served 36 months of active duty or were discharged for a service-connected disability after more than 30 days of service, you are eligible for 100% of the available benefits. If you served less than 36 months, you will receive between 40%-90% of benefits, based on how long you served.
What Types of Benefits are Provided?
If you are eligible for educational benefits, you will receive:
- The total cost of tuition and fees at public colleges, for in-state tuition, or up to $17,500 for the cost of tuition at fees at private colleges or colleges in other countries. Tuition and fees are paid directly to the school.
- A monthly housing allowance based on the basic housing allowance available to a military E-5 with dependents, but only if you are in school full-time.
- An annual stipend of up to $1,000 to cover the costs of books and other supplies, and
- If you are in a very rural area, you may also be eligible for a one-time payment of $500 if you are relocating to get an education.
What Types of Education are Covered?
The Post-9/11 GI bill will provide benefits for:
- undergraduate degrees
- graduate degrees
- technical or vocational training
- on-the-job training
- flight training
- licensing programs (one time only)
- testing programs (one time only)
- correspondence training, and
Generally, programs will only be covered if they are offered by an institution that awards degrees.
The Yellow Ribbon Program
The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program helps eligible veterans who go to state institutions but don’t get in-state tuition, or whose tuition at a private institution or institution in another country exceeds the benefit rate. Only veterans who are entitled to receiving 100% of benefits (meaning, they served for at least 36 months) are eligible for this program.
Increased Benefits for Certain States
If you live in Arizona, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, New York or Texas, you may be entitled to additional benefits. A recent law call the GI Fairness Bill of 2011 allows the VA to pay extra towards the cost of tuition at private schools. To qualify, you must have been enrolled at your college since January 4, 2011 and the cost of your program for that school year must have exceeded $17,500.
Benefits for Surviving Children
Children of service members who died in service on or after September 11, 2001 are entitled to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill. They can receive 36 months of benefits at 100% and can use the benefits anytime within 15 years of their 18th birthday. but no later than their 33rd birthday.
How to Apply for Benefits Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill
You can apply online or call 888-GI BILL-1 (888-442-4551) to have an application sent to you. You can also ask for an application at your school.