Enacted during the closing days of World War II, the GI Bill put in place to provide training and education for millions of service men and women returning from war.

Since that time, the GI Bill has been changed and modified to ensure that active service members and veterans, as well as their spouses and children, have access to comprehensive and far reaching benefits that cover a vast majority of educational opportunities.

There have been two major changes to the GI Bill over time. In 1985, the Montgomery GI Bill was adopted. It was broken into two major components, the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty and the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve.

The Montgomery GI Bill -Active Duty is also known as Chapter 30 and can provide up to $61,000 in benefits for active duty service members. To participate in the program, service members must pay $100 per month for 12 months at the beginning of their enlistment period. In return, they become eligible to receive up to $1,717 for 36 months. A Buy-Up program allows participants to contribute an additional $600 in exchange for an additional $5,400 in benefits.

The Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve provides education and training benefits to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard and the Coast Guard Reserves. Participants can access more than $11,000 under this program. They are not required to contribute $100 monthly, making that part different from the Active Duty Program. 

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers education benefits for service members who have served 90 days or more on active duty since September 10, 2001. It pays full tuition and fees at participating VA Program schools, can provide a monthly housing allowance, and up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies, pro-rated at $41 per credit hour. 

A key provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is that benefits can be transferred to spouses and children after service members meet pre-determined minimum lengths of service. This particular GI Bill also offers the Yellow Ribbon Program for students planning on enrolling in out-of-state or foreign universities. The schools and the VA partner to covered added tuition costs, making this type of education an option for qualifying students.

Other VA programs such as the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) and the Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) also provide comprehensive benefits for specialized segments of active duty service members and veterans.

In addition to these programs, there are also Survivor and Dependents Educational Assistance Programs that provide benefits directly to spouses and children of disabled and deceased veterans as well.

Are You Eligible for the GI Bill?

In June of 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act into law. More commonly known as the GI Bill, it was initially enacted to help millions of veterans and active members of the armed forces returning from World War II pay for the costs of training or getting an education.

Since that time, the GI Bill has undergone several changes and updates, most notably in 1984 when the Montgomery GI Bill was enacted and more recently when the Post-9/11 GI Bill ensured that educational benefits for military veterans and active service members would continue in an even more robust way.

Currently, there are several opportunities for service members to take advantage of educational training opportunities offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

GI Bill Programs

Once you’ve made the decision to use the GI Bill, you need to decide which programs you qualify for and which one best meets your educational goals and needs.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • Provides education benefits for members of the armed forces who have served 90 days or more on active duty since September 10, 2001.
  • It pays full tuition and fees at school, a monthly housing allowance and gives you up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies.
  • Offers a one-time rural relocation allowance of $500 so that you can move close to where your school is located.
  • To be eligible, you must have served a minimum of 30 days after September 10, 2001 and earned a discharge due to a service related disability, or you must have served 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001 and received an honorable discharge. Under these circumstances, you will qualify for certain benefits based on your current status.

 

If You Are
You Qualify For
Tuition and Fees
Monthly Housing Allowance
Book Stipend
Yellow Ribbon
Relocation
On Active Duty
X

X


Veteran
X
X
X
X
X
Spouse using transferred benefits
X
**
X
**
X
Child using transferred benefits
X
X
X
X
X

(Source)

** A spouse cannot get the Monthly Housing Allowance or Yellow Ribbon benefit if the sponsor is still on active duty.

  • Tuition and housing payments are pro-rated based on the amount of service credits a service member has at the time they choose to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Post-9/11 Service
Percentage of Maximum Amount Payable
At least 36 cumulative months
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
100%
At least 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
100%
At least 30 cumulative months
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
90%
At least 24 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
80%
At least 18 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
70%
At least 12 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
60%
At least 6 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
50%
90 aggregate days
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
40%

 (Source)

  • Monthly housing allowances are paid based on the ZIP code of the school you are attending. The current average monthly stipend is $1,566 but can range up to $2,700 depending on the location of the school you attend.
  • A book stipend of up to $1,000 a year is also available under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It is paid at the beginning of each term and is pro-rated at $41 per credit hour.
  • Service members who have served at least six years of active duty and agree to serve another four years can transfer their benefits to their spouses. At 10 years of service, the individual may transfer benefits to a dependent child. Family members must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) to be eligible to receive benefits. After the benefit has been assigned to a child, the service member still retains the right to change or revoke the transferred benefit at any time.
  • The following types of educational training are approved under the Post=9/11 GI Bill: 
  • Correspondence training
  • Cooperative training
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Flight training
  • Independent and distance learning
  • Institutions of high learning undergraduate and graduate degrees
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • Vocational/technical training, non-college degree programs
  • National testing reimbursement
  • On-the-job training
  • Tuition assistance top-up
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Vocational/technical training

Montgomery GI Bill

There are two programs under the Montgomery GI Bill that can be used by service members. They are the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Program and the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve Program.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Program

  • The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Program (MGIB-AD) is also known as Chapter 30. Service members on active duty who elect to enroll and pay $100 per month for the first 12 months they are active duty are eligible to receive education and training benefits up to $61,000 in cash and support programs.
  • The MGIB-AD value is based on a currently monthly maximum rate of $1,717 covering a 36-month period. This amount is adjusted annually for inflation and you get the current rate no matter when you signed up for it.
  • Some service members can participate in the $600 Buy-Up Program which allows them to contribute an additional $600 in exchange for increased monthly benefits. If you contribute the additional $600, you can receive an additional $5,400 in benefits.
  • 36 months of benefits are broken into four academic years of 8 months each, which equates to a typical four-year degree program.
  • You generally have 10 years from your date of discharge to use the benefits under the MGIB-AD, but some exemptions are allowed under extenuating circumstances.
  • You can augment benefits from the MGIB by also signing up for the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps College Funds.
  • The $100 per month deduction is not taxable and cannot be refunded. You can disenroll from the program at any time, but that decision is permanent and irrevocable.
  • To qualify for the MGIB Active Duty Program, you must
  • Have completed high school or gotten an equivalency certificate. If you complete 12 hours of college courses, this also meets the pre-existing educational requirement.
  • You must have completed at least two years of active duty.
  • You must meet requirements in one of these categories:

NOTE: This is a very tight description of the categories and I thought it best to leave it exactly as is, pulled from the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Although not a chart, it is the equivalent of one.

CATEGORY I

Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985

Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months

Continuously served for three years or two years, if that is what you first enlisted for or if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served four years (the 2 by 4 program)

CATEGORY II

Entered active duty before January 1, 1977

Served at least one day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85, and stayed on active duty through 6/30/88, (or through 6/30/87 if you entered the Selected Reserve within one year of leaving active duty and served four years)

On 12/31/89, you had entitlement left from Vietnam-era GI Bill

CATEGORY III

Not eligible for MGIB under Category I or II

On active duty on 9/30/90 AND separated involuntarily after 2/2/91

OR involuntarily separated on or after 11/30/93

OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program

Before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1,200

CATEGORY IV

On active duty on 10/9/96 AND you had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date AND you elected MGIB by 10/9/97

OR you entered full-time National Guard duty under title 32, USC, between 7/1/85, and 11/28/89, AND you elected MGIB during the period 10/9/96 – 7/08/97

  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution

(Source)

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve Program

The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve Program (MGIB-SR), also known as Chapter 1606, provides education and training benefits to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard and the Coast Guard Reserves. 

Participating members in the MGIB-SR can access more than $11,000 in benefits.

  • The MGIB-SR value is based on a currently monthly maximum rate covering a 36-month period. This amount is adjusted annually on October 1 for inflation and you get the current rate no matter when you signed up for it.
  • You can augment benefits from the MGIB-SR by also signing up for the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps College Funds.
  • To qualify for the MGIB Selected Reserve Program, you must:
  • Complete your initial active duty for training
  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Commit to a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve or Guard signed after June 30, 1985.
  • Officers must have agreed to serve six years in addition to their original obligation.
  • Remain in good standing during their service in an active Selected Reserve unit.
  • If you are called back to active duty, your eligibility may be extended.
  • Your eligibility ends when you leave the Selected Reserve.
  • You can get benefits for a wide range of training:
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree programs at colleges or universities.
  • Independent study programs and courses from accredited institutions
  • Vocational, technical or business certificates or diplomas
  • On-the-job or apprentice programs offered by a union or an employer
  • Flight training
  • Correspondence courses
  • Remedial or refresher courses that are necessary to help you pursue an approved course of study.
  • Training to help you run a small business
  • Benefits for a test leading to a license or certification

What is the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)?

  • The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) is also known as Chapter 1607 and provides educational assistance to members of the Armed Forces Reserve who are ordered to active duty due to war or other national emergency.
  • Reserve members must serve 90 consecutive days to be eligible for REAP benefits. Service members who were injured or contracted and illness or disease while serving thus causing them to be released before the 90-day period are still eligible for benefits.
  • REAP benefits cannot be used in conjunction with other benefits. However if you are eligible for any Armed Forces College Fund benefits, those can be added to any REAP benefits you receive.
  • REAP benefits are determined by the number of days a service member was activated. 
Time Reserve Member Serves on Active Duty
Full-Time Rate 
(Eff. Oct. 1, 2015)
90 days but less than one year
$715.60
One year but less than two years
$1,073.40
Two years or more
$1,431.20
  • Service members can contribute as much as an additional $600 to gain added benefits.
  • Members will receive 36 months of benefits at their determined rate. You have up to 10 years to use REAP benefits, however, those who leave the Guard or Reserves before their commitment is up forfeit this benefit.

What is the Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)?

  • The Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) provides educational and training benefits for service members who entered military service between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985.
  • VEAP matches contributions to an account opened by the service member on a $2 for $1 basis up to $2,700 in the member’s account.
  • Funds may be used for benefits similar to other GI Bill programs, including:
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree programs at colleges or universities.
  • Independent study programs and courses from accredited institutions
  • Vocational, technical or business certificates or diplomas
  • On-the-job or apprentice programs offered by a union or an employer
  • Flight training
  • Correspondence courses
  • Remedial or refresher courses that are necessary to help you pursue an approved course of study.
  • Training to help you run a small business
  • Benefits for a test for a license or certification
  • You must have completed your first term of service and if you have been discharged it must be with any condition other than dishonorable.
  • You can request a refund of the contributions in your fund, but this will terminate the $2 for $1 provision.
  • You have 10 years from the release of active duty to use the funds in your account and the VEAP benefits. If you do not use the VEAP benefits during this time, your contributions will be refunded to you.

In addition to being able to transfer benefits to spouses and children as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, there are two primary programs for spouses, survivors and dependents of veterans offered by the Veterans Administration.

  • The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. Also known as the Fry Scholarship, this benefit is offered to children and spouses of Armed Forces members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
  • The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. Training and educational opportunities are available to dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled or those veterans of died on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
  • Each program offers a variety of educational benefits to spouses and dependent children of veterans. Although you may be eligible for both programs, you must choose between one or the other why you apply, and your decision is non-revocable.
  • The following chart is a comparison between the two benefit programs.

DEA
Fry Scholarship
Benefit Payments
Monthly amount paid directly to the student. The current monthly payment for full-time training is $1,018.
Tuition & Fee Payment (Paid to School) - Full in-state tuition costs covered for training pursued at public institutions. Up to $20,035.02 per year at private institutions
Books and Supplies Stipend (Paid to Student) - Up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies. Paid to the student proportionately for each term.
Monthly Housing Allowance (Paid to Student) - Stipend based on local BAH for E-5 with dependents and paid monthly. Online students receive half of the BAH national average
Duration of Benefits
Surviving Spouses of those who died in the line of duty may use benefits for up to 20 years from the Servicemember's date of death.
15 years from the Servicemember's date of death
Maximum Months of Benefits
45 months
36 months
Concurrent Receipt of DIC and Education Benefit for Spouse
Yes
Yes
Programs Covered
College, Business, Technical, or Vocational Programs
Certification Tests
Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
Tutorial Assistance
Work-study
College, Business, Technical, or Vocational Programs
Certification Tests
Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
Vocational flight training
Tutorial Assistance
Work-study

(Source)

Take These 4 Steps to Enroll in the GI Bill Program

There are four steps you must take to enroll in GI Bill programs and start receiving benefits.

Step 1 – Find a VA approved school or training program. Most colleges and universities have VA-approved programs, but it is best to work with an admissions counselor to make sure the school you’re considering matches up with the GI Bill benefits you want to use.

Step 2 – Complete the Veterans Administration Application for Education Benefits. The Veterans On-line Application is known as VONAPP and is located at https://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/default.asp

Step 3 – Confirming eligibility.  In four to eight weeks, you should receive a letter from the Veterans Administration confirming and explaining your GI Bill benefits. Do not worry if the VA asks for more information as this happens on a regular basis. Simply complete the request and it should speed you on your way to approval.

Step 4 – Ongoing verification. For some programs, once you start getting your benefits, you will need to complete the VA’s Web Automated Verification of Eligibility (WAVE) each month. This is a simple process that confirms you are still eligible to receive benefits, but you must complete this step or you will not get your monthly payment.

Contacting the Veterans Administration

If you have questions or need help with your GI Bill benefits, here’s how you can contact the VA.

Go to the VA website at www.gibill.va.gov. There is detailed information on all GI Bill programs, forms and calculators to assist you with maximizing the use of your benefits.

Call the VA at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).
 Hearing impaired users should call 1-800- 829-4833. Toll-free telephone service is available in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands.  

Visit a VA Regional Office, VA Medical Center or Vet Center. Find the nearest location at www.va.gov.

Contact any of the following who will be able to assist you:

Reserve and Guard Education and Incentives Officers.

Representatives of Veterans organizations.

Education Service Officers or education counselors at military bases.

American Embassies or Consulates

For help with other VA benefits…

Call 1-800-827-1000. If you are hearing impaired, call 1-800-829-4833.

You can also go to the main VA Web site at www.va.gov.