Gi Bill® Benefits: Everything You Need To Know

Your GI Bill® benefits can help you pay for college, graduate school, and other types of training programs. The GI Bill® has helped veterans and their family members access funding to cover costs associated with educational programs since 1944. The programs you are eligible for under the GI Bill® will depend on when you served and your length of service.

GI Bill Programs

You may be eligible for benefits under different GI Bill® programs. These programs include:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill®
  • Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty
  • Montgomery GI Bill® Selected Reserve
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program

If you are a survivor of someone who has died in the line of duty, or you are a dependent of a totally disabled veteran, you may also be eligible for:

  • Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA)
  • Fry Scholarship

What Training Is Available Using the GI Bill®?

The GI Bill® can cover several types of training. You can use these benefits to pay for:

  • College degree programs, which includes associate, bachelor’s, and advanced degrees
  • Non-college degree programs including vocational and technical training
  • Flight training
  • Correspondence training
  • Apprenticeship or on-the-job training
  • Reimbursement for licensing and certification
  • National testing programs, including AP, CLEP, and SAT
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Tuition assistance top-up
  • Work-study programs

Post-9/11 GI Bill®

Who Is Eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill®?

Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits are available for service members who served on active duty on September 11, 2001, or following that date. Current members of the military or those who have separated with an honorable discharge may access these benefits. To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, you must have served:

  • An aggregate of 90 days active duty, and received an honorable discharge, or
  • At least 30 days of continuous active duty, and be discharged with a service-connected disability

Reservists and Guard members also qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill® with the following active duty:

  • All voluntary active duty (with the exception of active duty for medical evaluation and care)
  • Title 10 active duty supporting named contingency operations
  • Title 32 service, section 502(f) (for the purpose of responding to national emergencies)
  • Title 32 service (for the purpose of administering, instructing, organizing, recruiting, or training the National Guard)

What Does the Post-9/11 GI Bill® Cover?

Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits can include:

  • Coverage of tuition and fees (up to 100%)
  • A monthly housing allowance
  • Stipend for books and supplies (up to $1,000 per year)
  • Payment to assist with moving from a remote area
  • Yellow Ribbon Program

Veterans and service members eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits may also transfer these benefits to family members.

How Are Benefits for the Post-9/11 GI Bill® Calculated?

Post-9/11 Bill benefits are calculated based on tiers. The amount of time served on active duty will determine the percentage of total benefits you are able to receive. Currently, the VA determines eligibility using the following scale:

  • 100% of benefits for those who have served 36 months or more, or for at least 30 continuous days with a discharge due to service-connected disability
  • 90% of benefits for those who have served at least 30 months
  • 80% of benefits for those who have served at least 24 months
  • 70% of benefits for those who have served at least 18 months
  • 60% of benefits for those who have served at least 12 months
  • 50% of benefits for those who have served at least six months
  • 40% of benefits for those who have served at least 90 days

Once the Forever GI Bill® goes into effect, the following changes will apply:

  • 50% of benefits for those who have served 90 days to six months
  • 60% of benefits for those who have served at least six months but less than 18 months

Montgomery GI Program

Who Is Eligible for the Montgomery GI Program?

The Montgomery GI Program is also available for many veterans. You can use this program if you:

  • Have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit
  • Served at least two years of active duty
  • Received an honorable discharge

What Does the Montgomery GI Program Cover?

This education benefit may entitle you to over $61,000 to pay for educational programs. The Montgomery GI Program can cover tuition and fees for 36 months or eight semesters. You can use your benefits to pay for the following:

  • College courses
  • Technical courses
  • Flight training
  • Apprenticeship and job training

How Are Benefits for the Montgomery GI Program Calculated?

The amount of money you can receive is calculated based on:

  • Length of service
  • Type of training you obtain
  • College fund eligibility
  • Participation in the $600 Buy-Up Program while on active duty (this can increase your monthly benefits)

Comparing Your Options

Both the Post-9/11 GI Bill® and the Montgomery GI Bill® programs give you the option to start and stop as you need. Your decision about which program to use is permanent. You can use some GI Bill® benefits while on active duty, but you will not receive a monthly housing stipend on top of your housing allowance from the military.

How to Apply for GI Bill® Benefits

There are a few different options to choose from when applying for your GI Bill® benefits. You can apply:

  • Online
  • In person at a VA regional office
  • By mail (call 1-888-GI BILL-1 to request an application from the VA)

What You Will Need to Apply

You’ll need to provide documentation and some basic information when completing an application for the GI Bill®. This includes:

  • Information about your military background
  • Information about your education history
  • The school you’d like to attend
  • Your social security number
  • Your bank account numbers
  • Copy of DD Form 214 (for veterans)

Tuition and fee payments will go directly to the school you attend, but you’ll receive the money for your textbook and housing allowances in your bank account. It can take the Department of Veterans Affairs more than a month to process applications for GI Bill® benefits. Speak with the school certifying official at your college if you’re worried about the process. Most schools have someone at their Financial Aid or Registrar’s office who can help get you through the application.

Certificate of Eligibility

After applying for GI Bill® benefits, you’ll receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. This certificate describes what benefits you’re eligible to receive. You will need to present this document to your school when enrolling. Your Certificate of Eligibility also acts as proof that payment is on the way if your tuition payments are delayed, so your school will not charge late fees or impose other restrictions due to late payment.

Transferring GI Bill® Benefits

You may also qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits as an eligible spouse or dependent child of a military member. Ex-spouses and children who are no longer defined as dependents (following IRS stipulations) will not be approved for a transfer of benefits. Other rules for eligibility and transfer apply.

Forever GI Bill®

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, better known as the Forever GI Bill®, expands benefits and opportunities for eligible service members. Changes include:

  • There’s no longer an expiration date for using benefits if you left the military after January 1, 2013.
  • Purple Heart recipients will be eligible for increased benefits.
  • More people will be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • More time and money will be available for STEM degrees.
  • Veterans affected by school closures can have benefits restored.
  • The VA will calculate benefits differently (beginning in August 2020).
  • Reservists can use more of their service for eligibility.
  • Housing stipends will decrease slightly.
  • There will be increased flexibility for benefit transfer in case of death.
  • Surviving family members will get less time but more money.
  • School certifying officials will need to undergo required training.

You can use your GI Bill® benefits to start your career as a filmmaker. At NFI, you’ll learn the skills to tell your story through film.