The U.S Department of Veteran Affairs handles all veteran benefits, including education benefits offered by the GI Bill.
The GI Bill was enacted in 1944 as a way to provide educational and professional opportunities for veterans transitioning into the workforce after World War II. Today, the bill has provided millions of qualifying veterans and their dependents with the financial assistance needed to attend college, graduate school or job training programs. Beneficiaries may even use their VA benefits towards tuition, fees and housing for educational programs offered abroad. There are two different versions of the GI Bill – the Post 911 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill.
Furthermore, there are other programs offered to provide financial assistance to veterans who have completed periods of national service and to dependents who have lost their loves ones in the line of duty. The amount of benefits received in these programs can vary on several factors like eligibility, length of service and the amount of military pay put away.
Those who have served on active duty for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001, will qualify for the U.S. Post 911 GI Bill. This bill allows qualifying veterans and dependents to apply to any GI Bill program. It covers tuition, fees, housing and up to $1,000 in books and supplies per school year. More specifically, these benefits can cover up to $22,805.34 of an in-state school’s full tuition amount and include up to 36 months of VA education benefits that can be used within 15 years.
The amount of benefits a veteran or qualifying dependent can receive is based on how much active service they have dedicated since September 10, 2001. While 90 days of service will qualify a veteran for 40 percent of the maximum amount, three years will qualify a veteran for 100 percent of the maximum benefit amount. Additionally, those who qualify for the maximum benefit amount may apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program to pay for a more expensive out-of-state, private or graduate level tuition not covered by the bill. Additionally, beneficiaries may use the Post 911 GI Bill to cover the cost of trainings, such as:
The Montgomery GI Bill covers tuition for an academic program or training for those who have enlisted in the armed forces. There are two parts to this program– one for active duty and the other for selected reserve. To qualify, active duty members must pay $100 per month for a year and fulfill a minimum service obligation. As for selected reserve, members must fulfill a service obligation of six years while actively drilling.
The amount of money received depends on several factors, such as:
Both programs offer VA benefits useable for up to 36 months. Like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, these benefits can be used towards technical or vocational courses, national testing reimbursement and correspondence training. Furthermore, active duty members who pay into the $600 Buy-Up program can qualify for an additional $5,400 in GI Bill benefits.
In addition to the main GI Bill programs, there are additional programs offered to eligible veterans. These include the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program and the National Call to Service Program. VEAP offers tuition money for qualifying veterans who put a portion of their military pay towards an education fund. As part of the program, the government matches the amount of money the veteran has in his or her fund.
Qualifying veterans entered service between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985, finished their first period of service and were not released on dishonorable discharge. They have 10 years from their release date to access these VA education benefits. After this period, a veteran may ask for a refund of the amount left in his or her fund. Veterans who choose to utilize the money for educational purposes may use the benefits towards an undergraduate program, graduate school program, co-op training or other qualifying programs.
Furthermore, Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance offers two programs, the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) and Survivors’ Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program. The Fry Scholarship provides VA education benefits to children and spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
The DEA program is offered to spouses and children of disabled veterans, service members who have passed, are missing in action or forcibly detained by a foreign entity while in the line of duty. Alternatively,, the National Call to Service Program is offered to military members who performed a period of national service designated by the Secretary of Defense. These members may choose an education benefit, such as a cash bonus of $5,000 or repayment of a maximum student loan of $18,000.
After deciding on which VA benefits you qualify for in the above sections, you must gather the necessary documentation needed to apply. You may apply online, in person or with the help of a trained professional, as long as you have the following information.
If you are applying online, simply make a claim through the VA site. After submitting the appropriate form, you will get a confirmation message and your application will take up to 30 days to process. Upon approval, you will receive an award letter in the mail. If you would like to apply by mail, call the GI Bill office and request that an application be sent to you.
Fill out the form and mail the application back to the VA regional claims processing office nearest to your school or training facility. You may also complete the process in person at your local VA regional benefit office or at the Registrar or Financial Aid office at your school. If you feel like you need further assistance making your claim, work with an accredited attorney, claims agent or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO). These trained professionals may help you obtain additional benefits, like life insurance and home loans, by filing claims on your behalf and helping you gather your supporting documentation.