Coolest Things You Can Use Your Gi Bill For: Education And Beyond
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Coolest Things You Can Use Your Gi Bill For: Education And Beyond

The GI Bill has long been a cornerstone of support for U.S. veterans, offering a range of educational benefits to those who have served their country. But with so many options and updates over the years, navigating these benefits can be a challenge. 

This guide sheds light on the various facets of the GI Bill, from its history to its modern-day applications, ensuring that veterans can make the most of the opportunities available to them.

What Is The GI Bill?

The GI Bill is a significant benefit provided to Veterans by the U.S. government. Established in 1944, the GI Bill aims to assist qualifying Veterans and their family members in covering the costs associated with education and training. This benefit can be applied towards college, graduate school, and various training programs. Over the years, the GI Bill has undergone several changes and expansions, but its primary goal remains the same: to support Veterans in their pursuit of education and training.

The GI Bill offers several programs, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which is designed for those who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This particular program provides education benefits that can be transferred to a Veteran’s spouse or dependent children if not used by the Veteran themselves. Additionally, there are other programs like the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), catering to different groups of Veterans and service members.

What Are Some Of The Coolest Things You Can Use Your GI Bill For?

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits: If you’ve served on active duty after September 10, 2001, you can utilize the Post-9/11 GI Bill to help pay for school or job training. This program also allows for the transfer of unused benefits to your spouse and dependents.

  • Foreign Programs: Planning to study abroad? The GI Bill can be used to cover tuition and fees at foreign institutions, allowing Veterans to experience education in a global context.

  • Undergraduate And Graduate Degrees: Whether you’re aiming for an undergraduate or a graduate degree, the GI Bill can assist in covering the costs of courses at institutions of higher learning.

  • Yellow Ribbon Program: Some schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps pay tuition costs that the Post-9/11 GI Bill might not cover entirely.

  • Tuition Assistance Top-Up: If your college tuition exceeds the amount covered by the Tuition Assistance program, the GI Bill can provide additional funds to bridge the gap.

  • $600 Buy-Up Program: This program allows Veterans to receive more money each month through their GI Bill monthly payments.

  • Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship: Eligible Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill or dependents using the Fry Scholarship can benefit from the Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship for added advantages.

  • Veterans Technology Education Courses (VET TEC): For those looking to gain computer skills for a career in the high-tech industry, VET TEC pairs you with top training providers to enhance your abilities.

  • Tutorial Assistance: If you’re using VA educational benefits and find the coursework challenging, the GI Bill can help cover the costs of a tutor to support your learning journey.

  • GI Bill® School Feedback Tool: If you have concerns or feedback about your GI Bill school, this tool allows you to submit them, ensuring that the quality of education remains top-notch.

Monthly Housing Allowance

Beyond education, the GI Bill recognizes the importance of a stable living environment for veterans. Let’s discuss how the Monthly Housing Allowance ensures you have a comfortable place to call home while pursuing your studies.

How Does This Work?

The Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) is a benefit provided to eligible beneficiaries under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It’s designed to help cover the cost of housing while you’re enrolled in an educational institution. The amount you receive is based on the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for an E-5 with dependents. The MHA is determined by the zip code of the school you’re attending and is paid at the end of each month.

For those attending in-person courses in the U.S., the MHA is based on the 2023 BAH rates, which are used to calculate the MHA between August 1, 2023, and July 31, 2024. However, if you’re enrolled in online-only courses or attending a foreign school, the MHA calculation might differ. It’s worth noting that if you’re undergoing correspondence training or flight training, you won’t be eligible for MHA.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for the Monthly Housing Allowance:

  • You must be enrolled in a school that’s approved for VA education benefits.

  • Your rate of benefit is determined by the length of your active-duty service. For instance, if you served on active duty for at least 1,095 days (or 36 months), you’re eligible for 100% of the full benefit. The percentage decreases based on shorter service durations.

  • The number of credits you’re taking or the number of clock hours you’re scheduled to attend per week also affects the MHA amount.

  • If you’re taking correspondence or flight training, you won’t be eligible for MHA.

How Do I Apply?

To apply for the Monthly Housing Allowance:

  1. Ensure you’re enrolled in a VA-approved educational institution.

  2. Submit an application for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits through the VA website or in person at a VA regional office.

  3. Once approved, the VA will send you a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Present this to your school’s certifying official.

  4. Your school will then send an enrollment verification to the VA, after which your MHA payments will begin.

  5. Remember, the MHA is paid at the end of each month, so ensure you verify your enrollment monthly to continue receiving the allowance.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The aftermath of 9/11 brought about significant changes, including enhancements to the GI Bill. Let’s dive into the specifics of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and how it stands out from its predecessors.

What Is Included In This Benefit?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) is designed to assist veterans in paying for school or job training. Here’s what’s included in this benefit:

  • Tuition And Fees: For those who qualify for the maximum benefit, the GI Bill covers the full cost of public, in-state tuition and fees. Rates for private and foreign schools are capped and updated annually

  • Housing Allowance: If you’re attending school more than half-time, you can receive a monthly housing allowance based on the cost of living in the location of your school.

  • Books And Supplies Stipend: Beneficiaries can receive up to a certain maximum stipend per school year for books and supplies.

  • Relocation Assistance: If you reside in a rural area and need to move a significant distance (at least 500 miles) or have to fly to attend school, you might qualify for a one-time payment to assist with relocation.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements For This Benefit?

To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits:

You must have served at least 90 days on active duty after September 11, 2001.

  • Veterans who received a Purple Heart after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any duration of service are eligible.

  • If you served for at least 30 continuous days after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability, you qualify.

  • Dependent children using benefits transferred by a qualifying Veteran or service member are also eligible.

  • Members of the Reserves who lost benefits when the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) ended might qualify for restored benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

How Do I Apply For This Benefit?

To apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits:

  • Ensure you’re enrolled in a VA-approved educational institution.

  • Submit an application for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits through the VA website or in person at a VA regional office.

  • Once your application is approved, the VA will send you a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Present this COE to your school’s certifying official.

  • Your school will then send an enrollment verification to the VA. After this, you’ll start receiving your benefits.

  • Remember, if you’re using the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you’ll need to verify your enrollment every month to continue receiving certain benefits, such as the monthly housing allowance.

Foreign Schools

The world is vast, and the GI Bill acknowledges the value of global education. If you’ve ever dreamt of studying abroad, let’s explore how the GI Bill can make that dream a reality.

What Are My Options For Using My GI Bill Benefits At Foreign Schools?

If you’re considering studying abroad, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides options for you to use your benefits at foreign educational institutions. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Eligible Programs: You can use your VA education benefits at foreign schools that offer degree programs equivalent to those granted by accredited U.S. colleges and universities. The term “accredited” means that the school meets certain recognized quality standards.

  • Degree Requirements: The degree you pursue at a foreign institution should be of equal value to those granted by public colleges and universities in the same country. For private schools overseas, they must have the same entrance requirements.

  • Independent Study: If you’re considering independent study courses, they must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting association.

  • Exceptions: Programs at schools located in the U.S. that offer courses in a foreign country through the Department of Defense don’t qualify as foreign training. Similarly, year abroad and similar programs offered by U.S. schools don’t qualify as foreign training.

Is There Any Additional Assistance Available To Help Cover Tuition Costs At A Foreign School?

Yes, there are additional resources and tools to assist you:

  • GI Bill Comparison Tool: This tool helps you check the benefits you can receive at the foreign school you’re considering. It converts tuition and fees from local currencies into U.S. dollars, giving you a clearer understanding of your potential expenses. Use the GI Bill Comparison Tool.

  • Health Insurance: Before starting classes, inquire about your school’s or host country’s requirements for health insurance. In some cases, you may need to arrange health insurance before you can enroll.

  • Relocation And Travel: Ensure you have enough funds to cover all your needs, including travel expenses, until VA payments begin. Make arrangements for travel essentials like your passport, visa, and required vaccinations.

Education Benefits Comparison Tool

Choosing the right educational path can be daunting, especially with so many options available. Thankfully, the GI Bill offers a tool to simplify this process. Let’s delve into how this comparison tool can guide you in making the best decision for your future.

How Does This Tool Work?

The GI Bill® Comparison Tool is a valuable resource designed to help veterans and their families make informed decisions about their education. Here’s how the tool functions:

  • Search Options: The tool offers two primary search methods. You can search by the name of the school, employer, or training provider. Alternatively, you can search based on location, allowing you to find institutions or training providers in a specific area.

  • Comprehensive Data: Once you input your search criteria, the tool provides detailed information about the GI Bill benefits available at the selected schools, employers, or VET TEC providers. This includes data on tuition, housing allowances, book stipends, and more.

  • Downloadable Data: For those who prefer to analyze data offline or need to compare multiple institutions, the tool offers an option to download data on all schools in an XLS format.

  • Additional Resources: The tool also provides links to other relevant VA resources, such as information on the impact of COVID-19 on education benefits, FAQs for School Certifying Officials, and more.

  • Feedback Mechanism: Users can provide feedback on the tool, ensuring that it continues to meet the needs of veterans and remains up-to-date with the latest information.

  • Disclaimer: It’s essential to note that the content provided by the tool is for informational purposes only. While it offers a plain-language summary of benefits, it’s not intended to be a comprehensive statement or legal advice on the topic.

By utilizing the GI Bill® Comparison Tool, veterans can gain a clearer understanding of their benefits and make well-informed decisions about their education and training. Whether you’re considering a traditional college, a training program, or an employer-based training, this tool provides the insights you need to maximize your GI Bill benefits.

Using Your GI Bill

The GI Bill stands as a testament to the nation’s gratitude and commitment to its veterans. With its wide array of benefits and opportunities, it offers a path to education, growth, and a brighter future. As veterans navigate their post-military journey, the GI Bill serves as a steadfast ally, ensuring they have the resources and support they need. Whether you’re a veteran or a family member, understanding the GI Bill’s offerings can open doors to endless possibilities.

Learn about the GI Bill calculator by checking out our detailed guide. Visit Go Degree and browse through the available resources to learn more.

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