GI Bill Programs: the Basics
Find out how these armed forces education assistance programs can help you pay for college.
The original GI Bill was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 to help veterans returning from WWII. Because they were finding it difficult to return to the workforce, this bill allowed them to pursue a college education.
Since then, new GI Bill programs have been added, and members of the Armed Forces have been able to use the GI Bill benefits to receive training and complete college degree programs. Today, there are two GI Bills, the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill, and a variety of GI Bill programs, such as the Reserve Educational Assistance Program and Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program.
If you are an Armed Forces service member or eligible veteran, find out how GI Bills and other programs can help you receive money for college or training.
Who Is Eligible for the GI Bill Programs?
Active duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces members, and their spouses and dependent children, are eligible to receive benefits through these programs. The type of college aid you can receive depends on your eligibility and duty status.
What Types of GI Bill Programs Are There?
Members of the Armed Forces may qualify for a variety of GI Bill programs. These include:
- Post 9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
- Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
What types of education is covered by the GI Bill Programs?
How you can use the college money from your GI Bill depends on the program you choose. For example, the Post-9/11 Bill must be used at colleges or universities, while the Montgomery GI Bill can be used for training, apprenticeships, non-college degree courses and undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
What Are the Benefits of the Two GI Bills?
Through the Post-9/11 Bill, service members who have served 90 days of active duty since September 11, 2001, or who received an honorable discharge after 30 days, can receive up to 100% of tuition and fees, as well as a housing allowance and money for textbooks and supplies. This money for college programs cannot be more than the maximum in-state tuition rates at a public post-secondary school.
Active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill if they have served at least 90 days and have not been dishonorably discharged. Through this program, active-duty members can receive up to 36 months of college aid, and can obtain these benefits for 10 years following active duty. Members of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard and Air National Guard can receive education benefits for degree programs, certificate programs, apprenticeships and distance learning programs.
GI Bill Programs Tips & Tactics
- Are you a veteran interested in attending a state college? Some states do not charge tuition to veterans. Contact the schools’ financial aid offices to find out if yours will waive this college money for you.
- If you are eligible for multiple GI Bill programs, you must choose one program to receive benefits from. Talk to your Armed Forces recruiter to find out which programs you’re eligible for and which are most beneficial to you.
- Although you must choose only one GI Bill program at a time, you may be able to benefit from more than one program if you pursue more than one degree.
- In addition to GI Bill programs, members of the Armed Forces are eligible for scholarships and grants through the military, as well as scholarships, grants and college loans through federal aid, state aid and other institutions. To find out about the military college aid you’re eligible for, contact your recruiter. For non-military college financial aid, talk to your guidance counselor.
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