The GI Bill is a fantastic military benefit that helps all military personnel attend college and go on to have exciting, successful careers. Depending on how long you enlist with the Military and the job you choose, you can get up to $81,756 to help pay for college. All you have to do is give $100 a month during the first year of service. The program offers 36 months of benefits up to 10 years after separating. The new Post-9/11 GI Bill offers 36 months of benefits up to 15 years after separating. Under the Post-9/11 bill, veterans and servicemen and women can receive a host of educational benefits, including paid tuition and fees, $1,000 yearly stipend for books and other supplies and a monthly stipend for housing. $2,000 is also available for one certification or licensing test, and $1,200 is available for a year’s worth of tutoring assistance.
How to Use VA Educational Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) administers a number of education programs for which US Army personnel can qualify. The programs consist of:
- Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB)
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
- Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
- National Call to Service Program
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
If you have never applied for VA education benefits, you must first determine your eligibility for VA education benefits by contacting your nearest U.S. Veterans Assistance Center or VA regional office.
If you have previously used VA education benefits and remain eligible for additional assistance, benefits can be transferred from one institution to another. Requests for changes in place of training are routinely approved, whereas requests for changes in program involve several restrictions. For all of these programs, service members must first complete VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits, and send to the nearest VA office.
There are numerous colleges and universities that are approved to accept Veterans Administrations (VA) benefits, and have a special interest in attracting departing military personnel. Many of the schools offer programs tailored specifically to the needs of veterans and provide admissions counselors to assist with tuition credits and proper documentation. The Armed Services gave you discipline, drive, commitment and training, now show the world you have what it takes to succeed after the Army.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is for individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days of service. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Post-9/11 GI Bill will become effective for training on or after August 1, 2009. For more information please visit our page on the The Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Where to Go and What to Take
The decision has been made and the paperwork submitted. It’s time to hang up your BDU’s and boots and replace them with sneakers and a book bag. You have decided to leave the Army and return to school to take advantage of the educational benefits the recruiter promised you. But, before you run out and fork over big bucks for tuition, there are some important questions to consider.
What Do You Want To Do?
The first and most difficult question is, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” If you have not made this decision, you definitely need to spend some time looking at your career options. Many veterans have spent much time and money pursuing a career for which they had neither the ability nor the interest. Your Education Services Office, the library, or the counseling center at a local university, are good places to start investigating careers.
Once the decision is made, you then need to look at the education options available to you. If you are considering a certificate of licensing program, then consider technical schools and community/junior colleges (both residence and correspondence). If you prefer a degree program, you need to consider public and private two- and four-year institutions. Regardless of what type of school you choose, make sure the school and the program are both approved for VA benefits. The school can verify this, or you can call the nearest Department of Veterans Affairs regional office. This is critical, since you cannot receive VA educational benefits if you choose a school or a program that is not approved.
Before You Leave The Army
You must make sure your Army records accurately reflect the appropriate educational program. First, before your discharge, ensure that your records show that you are eligible for the correct program, and that you participated as required (contributed to the VEAP program or had the required deductions made for the Montgomery G.I. Bill). Second, when you are discharged, ensure that your DD214 (Discharge Document) shows the correct year and months you served, and that it reflect an Honorable Discharge (any other type of discharge can make you ineligible to participate in several educational programs). If you are being release before your original separation date, then ensure your DD214 reflects that you are discharge early for Hardship, Medical Disability, or the Convenience of the Government. If not, you may not be eligible for VA educational benefits.
It’s important that any corrections be made before your discharge. It’s a very time-consuming and complicated process to try to have your DD214 corrected once you are out. Also, remember to take your DD214 to a Clerk of a Circuit Court or local records office for recording. They’ll keep a record copy in case your copy is ever destroyed, and they’ll make certified copies for you. Never mail out the original DD214.
Where can you get copies of your military records?
The individual military departments DO NOT maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer on active duty. When an individual is separated from military service (because of retirement, discharge from active duty, or death) his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage to the National Personnel Records Center (Military), 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63172. The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the U.S. Government. Their web site is: National Personnel Records Center.