GI Bill Benefits For Reservists: What You Need To Know
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GI Bill Benefits For Reservists: What You Need To Know

The GI Bill is a beacon of hope for many veterans and their families, offering a pathway to higher education and a brighter future. Whether you’re an active-duty service member, a reservist, or a family member of a veteran, understanding the intricacies of the GI Bill can be pivotal. 

This comprehensive guide sheds light on the benefits, eligibility criteria, and the unique offerings of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions about your educational journey.

What Is The GI Bill?

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

The GI Bill offers various programs, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, and Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve. Each program has its own set of eligibility criteria and benefits. For instance, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is designed for veterans who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This program provides benefits that can be used for tuition, books, and even housing. Additionally, veterans have the option to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse and dependents.

Moreover, the GI Bill Comparison Tool and Veterans Service Organizations are available to help veterans explore their options and determine the benefits they are eligible for.

Benefits Of Joining The Reserves

Joining the reserves offers numerous benefits, one of which is access to the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program. This program is specifically designed for members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard.

  • Educational Assistance: The MGIB-SR provides financial assistance to reservists pursuing post-secondary education. This can include undergraduate and graduate degrees, vocational training, and other educational programs.

  • Flexibility: Reservists have the flexibility to study at institutions within the U.S. or at foreign schools. The GI Bill provides benefits that can cover tuition, fees, and other related costs, making it easier for reservists to pursue their educational goals.

  • Additional Programs: Beyond the MGIB-SR, reservists may also qualify for other GI Bill programs, such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps cover tuition costs not met by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. There’s also the Tuition Assistance Top-Up program for those whose tuition exceeds the amount covered by the Tuition Assistance program.

  • Skill Development: Joining the reserves provides an opportunity for individuals to develop valuable skills and gain experience in various fields. This experience, combined with the educational benefits of the GI Bill, can significantly enhance a reservist’s career prospects.

  • Community And Support: Being a part of the reserves means being a part of a larger community. Reservists have access to a network of support, including Veterans Service Organizations, which can assist in navigating the complexities of the GI Bill and other veteran benefits.

Active Duty & Selected Reserve

The distinction between active duty and reserve duty is crucial, especially when considering benefits like the GI Bill. Each has its own set of advantages and requirements. Let’s compare and contrast these two paths of service.

Benefits Of Active Duty Vs. Selected Reserve

Active Duty (Full-Time):

  • Civilian Career Transition: Active duty service members engage in full-time military work throughout their service period. After their service, many transition to civilian careers, leveraging the skills and experiences they gained during their time in the military.

  • Compensation: Active duty members receive consistent pay based on their experience and total service time. They also benefit from various compensation packages, including bonuses and training allowances.

  • Duty Station: Active duty members can be stationed anywhere in the U.S. or abroad, depending on their unit’s duties and mission. They typically reside on or near a military installation that serves as their unit’s base of operations.

  • Leave And Liberty: Active duty members accrue leave at a rate of 2.5 days per month, totaling 30 days per year. Liberty refers to any period when they are not working, including weekends and holidays. Leave or liberty can range from 24 to 96 hours, with distance restrictions based on duration.

  • Other Benefits: Active duty members enjoy full medical and dental benefits, access to post exchanges (PX) and commissaries, and the opportunity to retire with full benefits after 20 years of service.

Reserve Duty (Part-Time):

  • Civilian Career Integration: Reservists receive extensive training for their chosen military job, which they can immediately apply to their civilian career.

  • Compensation: Reservists earn competitive salaries for their limited duty time. They also qualify for various bonuses, incentives, and a broad range of benefits. Compensation is determined by training time and periods of active duty.

  • Duty Station: Reservists are typically stationed near their homes and are only deployed internationally if called up for active duty. This setup allows them to continue their civilian careers or education while training locally.

  • Leave And Liberty: Reservists do not follow the same leave and liberty rules as active duty members. However, when called for active duty service, their leave and liberty align with active duty requirements.

  • Other Benefits: Reservists receive full medical and dental benefits only when called for active duty. They have unlimited access to post exchanges but may be limited to 24 commissary visits per year. They can retire after 20 years of service but with modified retirement benefits.

Eligibility Requirements For Each

Active Duty:

  • Commitment to full-time military service.

  • Meet age, education, and physical fitness requirements.

  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

  • Complete Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

Selected Reserve:

  • Commitment to part-time military service, including one weekend a month and two weeks a year for training.

  • Meet age, education, and physical fitness requirements.

  • Pass the ASVAB test.

  • Complete BCT and AIT.

Length Of Obligation For Each

Active Duty:

Active duty service terms typically range from two to six years. The length may vary based on the specific needs of the military and the unit’s mission.

Selected Reserve:

Reservists typically commit to a six-year term of service. However, the actual time spent on active duty is limited, with reservists primarily serving during their weekend and two-week annual training sessions.

Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits Overview

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as Chapter 33, is a comprehensive education benefit program designed to assist veterans and their families in pursuing higher education and job training. Established in response to the events of September 11, 2001, this program offers a range of benefits to those who have served on active duty after that date.

Key Features And Benefits:

  • Tuition And Fees: For those who qualify for the maximum benefit, the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers the full cost of public, in-state tuition and fees. There are capped rates for private and foreign schools, which are updated annually. Check the current payment rates for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

  • 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 area where your school is located.

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

  • Rural Benefit: If you reside in a rural area and need to move a significant distance or fly to attend school, you might qualify for a one-time payment to assist with relocation.

  • Transfer Of Benefits: Qualified service members have the option to transfer all or a portion of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child.

  • Additional Programs: The Yellow Ribbon Program can help cover higher tuition costs for private schools or out-of-state tuition. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) is available for children or surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.


To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Served a minimum of 90 days on active duty (consecutively or with breaks) on or after September 11, 2001.

  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any duration of service.

  • Served for at least 30 continuous days (without breaks) on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged due to a service-connected disability.

  • If you’re a dependent child using benefits transferred by a qualifying veteran or service member.

Duration And Expiry

If your service concluded before January 1, 2013, your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will expire 15 years after your last separation date from active service.

For those whose service ended on or after January 1, 2013, the benefits won’t expire, thanks to the Forever GI Bill – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions about GI Bill reserves.

What is the primary difference between the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The Montgomery GI Bill offers benefits for active-duty and reservists, while the Post-9/11 GI Bill focuses on veterans who served after September 10, 2001, offering benefits for tuition, housing, and books.

Can I transfer my GI Bill benefits to my family members?

Yes, qualified service members can transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouses or children.

How long do I have to use my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?

If your service ended before January 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use your benefits. For those whose service ended on or after this date, the benefits won’t expire due to the Forever GI Bill.

Do reservists receive the same GI Bill benefits as active-duty members?

While there are similarities, the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) is specifically designed for reservists, offering benefits tailored to their unique service commitments.

How is the monthly housing allowance determined for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The allowance is based on the cost of living in the area where your school is located and is provided if you’re attending school more than half-time.

Can I use the GI Bill for non-college degree programs?

Yes, the GI Bill can be used for various educational and training programs, including non-college degree courses, on-the-job training, and vocational flight training.

Benefitting From The GI Bill Reserves

The GI Bill offers substantial benefits to veterans and their families, ensuring they have the resources needed to pursue their educational and career goals. For reservists, the benefits are even more pronounced, providing both educational assistance and a platform for personal and professional growth.

Find out the coolest things you can use your GI Bill for by checking out our detailed guide. Visit Go Degree and browse through the available resources to learn more.