Using the GI Bill to Plan and Help Pay For College Tuition

After serving in the military, you are eligible to use education benefits under the GI Bill for yourself and your family. As a member of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces, you can cover costs associated with getting education and training. The GI Bill offers several programs. Each program is administrated differently and depends upon on a person's eligibility and duty status.

You can explore all the GI Bill programs at http://benefits.va.gov/gibill/

The Post 9/11 GI Bill

This provides education benefits for service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. The Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay your full tuition and fees at school, pay for your monthly housing allowance and give you up to $1,000 a year to use for books and supplies. Another provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill also allows eligible service members to transfer unused benefits to family members. The Post-9/11 GI Bill also includes a Yellow Ribbon benefit, which is a provision to help students avoid out-of-pocket tuition and fees associated with education programs that cost more than the Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition benefit.

Yellow Ribbon Program: The Yellow Ribbon Program is not offered automatically and is available to only certain schools that have entered into an agreement with the VA to share the expense. You can qualify and receive Yellow Ribbon benefits if you already have qualified for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100% benefit tier and are attending an approved Institute of Higher Learning in the U.S.

Relocation Allowance: One more additional benefit associated with the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a one-time relocation allowance of $500 to cover the cost of relocating from a rural location to attend school. You can qualify for this relocation stipend if you are an eligible veteran, reside in a county with six people or less per square mile (as determined by the most recent decennial census) and you are physically relocating at least 500 miles away to attend an educational institution or need to travel by air to go to school as you cannot get there by land-based transportation.

Other GI Bill programs include Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill, Reserve and Guard Montgomery GI Bill, Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) and Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program.

There are also two programs available to family members and spouses who survive the death of service members in the line of duty and also to dependents of disabled veterans. They are Dependents' Education Assistance (DEA) and Fry Scholarship.

Along with your GI Bill, you can also receive educational training in a variety of fields and degree programs ranging from college degrees (Associate, Bachelor’s, Masters and Ph.D programs), vocational training, apprenticeship training, licensing, national testing programs (such as the SAT and CLEP), flight training, correspondence training and work-study programs as well as tuition assistance and tutorial assistance.

As a veteran, it makes sense to maximize the use of benefits you receive like the GI Bill so you can further your education at no extra cost, prepare yourself for returning to civilian life and get the training and support you need to grow and achieve your potential.