The term “GI Bill” may refer to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Both are forms of education benefits available to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including veterans who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves and National Guard.
Coordination restrictions may preclude veterans from receiving both types of GI Bill benefits. Likewise, veterans who received a ROTC scholarship may not be eligible for GI Bill benefits.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) provides up to 36 months of education benefits to help veterans pay for college, including accredited undergraduate, graduate and professional degree or certificate programs. Independent study courses, correspondence courses, preparatory courses, cooperative training programs and flight training may also qualify. Benefits may also be used while the servicemember is on active duty.
MGIB benefits may also be used to pay for the cost of an approved test required for licensing or certification, as well as tests required for college admissions or college credit.
To qualify for MBIG benefits, servicemembers must agree to have $100 deducted from their pay each month during their first year of service and must receive a fully honorable discharge to qualify for MGIB benefits. General discharges and “under honorable conditions” discharges do not qualify. Servicemembers must also have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate or complete 12 hours toward a college degree before applying for MGIB benefits. There may also be requirements concerning the length of active duty service. Veterans must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to continue receiving MGIB benefits.
MGIB benefits for full-time training provide about $60,000 for three years of full-time training. MGIB benefit payments are adjusted each year on October 1 based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) and depend on the servicemember’s enrollment status. The MGIB benefits may be increased by as much as $150 per month ($5,400 for 36 months) if the servicemember participated in the $600 buy-up program.
Veterans may be eligible for other add-on “kickers” that increase the amount of MGIB monthly benefits, such as the College Fund and Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Veterans may also be able to use MGIB benefits to supplement or “top up” their Tuition Assistance (TA).
The benefits are payable for up to 10 years after an honorable discharge from active-duty service. The 10-year period may be extended if the veteran re-enters active duty service (not for training) for 90 or more consecutive days or if the veteran was unable to use the benefits because of a disability or because the veteran was held by a foreign government.
If a servicemember dies because of a service-connected reason while on active duty or within one year of discharge from active duty, all or part of the remaining MGIB benefits may be paid to the designated beneficiary Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) along with other death benefits. If there are no designated beneficiaries, the MGIB benefits will be paid to the surviving spouse, to the surviving children if there is no surviving spouse or to the surviving parents, if there is no surviving spouse or children.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits to help veterans pay for college. Benefits include tuition and fees paid directly to the college, as well as a monthly housing allowance and a books and supplies stipend paid to the veteran. Some veterans may be eligible for a $500 one-time rural relocation benefit.
The tuition and fees component of the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers all tuition and fees for an in-state student at a public college or university. The tuition and fees at private colleges and universities and foreign institutions are subject to a national limit and may also be subject to individual state limits. (An exception to the national limit exists in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas, where the program pays the lower of the actual tuition and fees and the highest in-state tuition and fees for public colleges in the state.) Some private colleges and universities participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which may cover all or part of the higher tuition costs at these institutions through a matching program between the school and the Veterans Administration (VA).
To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the veteran must have at least 90 aggregate days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001. The days of active duty service do not need to be consecutive. Veterans may also be eligible if they were honorably discharged because of a service-related disability after serving 30 consecutive days on or after September 11, 2001. Children of a servicemember who died in the line of duty while serving on or after September 11, 2001 may be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits through the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship Program.
Forever GI Bill
Veterans now can use their GI Bill benefits whenever they want instead of being restricted to a 15-year time limit. This portion of the law will apply to anyone who left the military after January 1, 2013; i.e., Veterans whose last discharge or release from active duty is on or after January 1, 2013, will not expire. Those that were discharged or released before January 1, 2013 will still expire.
Veterans may be able to transfer unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents, if they are a member of the uniformed services and agree to serve for four more years.
For more information, visit www.gibill.va.gov or call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).