In 1944, President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (also known as the “GI Bill”) into law. This bill included many benefits for returning World War II veterans, including financial assistance to further their educations.
Fast forward to 2017, and that bill has been amended and transformed multiple times over the years. In 2008, it was updated to the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act. Dubbed the “Post-9/11 GI Bill,” this act improved the education benefits of its predecessor, helping ensure that those leaving the military can land jobs that provide for themselves and their families.
As of 2015, over 1.5 million veterans and their dependents—servicemembers can transfer GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children—have received $57 billion through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you are eligible for these benefits, or unsure of your eligibility, here are the details to be aware of.
GI Bill Eligibility
To be eligible for any Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you must meet one of the following conditions:
- Have served at least 30 days of continuous active duty service after September 10, 2001.
- Been discharged due to a service-connected disability.
- Have served an aggregate of 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge.
For Reservists and National Guard members, the following service qualifies you for the Post-9/11 GI Bill:
- All Title 10 active duty supporting named contingency operations.
- Title 32 service for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the National Guard.
- Title 32 service under section 502(f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency.
- All voluntary active duty, with the exception of active duty for medical care and medical evaluation.
What You Qualify For
The GI Bill will pay up to the full cost of resident tuition at any public institution. If you are attending a private or foreign institution, you may receive up to $21,970.46 annually. (You may be able to bridge any cost gap with the Yellow Ribbon program at private schools.)
The funding you receive ranges from 40% to 100%, depending on how long you served:
At least 36 months
At least 30 continuous active duty days before discharge due to a service-connected disability
At least 30 months
At least 24 months
At least 18 months
At least 12 months
At least 6 months
90 aggregate days
You may also qualify for a books and supplies stipend of $1,000 paid proportionately depending on your enrollment. You may qualify for a monthly housing stipend while you are attending college as well.
You may qualify for a relocation benefit if you are relocating from a rural county with six or fewer people per square mile and either relocate at least 500 miles to attend school or travel by air to attend school if no other land-based transportation exists. This relocation benefit is for one-time use only and is up to $500.
The types of benefits you qualify for depend on the type of service you performed or whether you are spouse or child of an eligible servicemember or veteran:
Tuition And Fees
Only if the GI Bill sponsor is not on active duty
Calculate your benefits and determine the best way for you to use them here.
Other Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
Educational funding doesn’t just need to go toward traditional 2- or 4-year college programs. You can also utilize Post-9/11 GI Bill funding for:
- Vocational training such as a trade school.
- Monthly housing allowance for on-the-job (OTJ) training. This usually includes a contract with an employer or union offering the training or apprenticeships. Most veterans will receive a salary as well as the credit for the training. Common OTJ training or apprenticeships veterans use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for are firefighting, union plumbing, and hotel management.
Monthly Housing Allowance
First 6 months
Second 6 months
Third 6 months
Fourth 6 months
Remaining time in program
- Flight training (you already have to have your private pilot license and valid medical certification), which includes rotary wing qualification, B747-400 qualification, and dual qualification flight engineer. You may also be eligible for a monthly housing allowance and a books and supplies stipend. The annual amount you may receive cannot exceed $12,554.54.
- Licensing or certification costs for professional licenses such as mechanic, medical technician, therapist, Certified Professional Accountant (CPA), computer network engineer, or website developer. The VA will even pay the cost of tests in the event that you fail. You may receive up to $2,000 per test.
- Entrepreneurship training through a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or individual courses approved on a case-by-case basis by the VA. This type of training teaches you how to start your own business or how to boost your current small business operation.
- Tutorial assistance if you need extra assistance to correct a deficiency you have in a specific course and the course is required for your academic pursuit.
Recent GI Bill Changes
In 2017, the Post-9/11 GI Bill expanded the benefits of this bill for some veterans. These changes included:
- Eliminating the 15-year post-service limit to use the education benefits for veterans discharged as of January 1, 2013.
- Allowing all Purple Heart recipients to take advantage of GI Bill benefits, even if they served fewer than 90 days. This allows National Guard and reservist veterans whose service was cut short to gain access to the benefits.
- Allowing transferred GI Bill benefits to a veteran’s spouse or dependents who die to be transferred to another veteran dependent or the veteran after the death.
- Providing an additional 9 months and $30,000 to those in STEM programs, but this won’t be effective until August 1, 2019.
- Reinstating any lost GI funding if you were enrolled in a school that closed as of January 1, 2015.
Yellow Ribbon Program
If you attend a private institution, you might find that your costs are more than the annual maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit provided to you. Some schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional funding to cover the gap between your costs and your Post-9/11 GI Bill award without deducting from your Post-9/11 GI Bill entitlement.
To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must:
- Attend a participating institution.
- Be eligible for 100% of GI Bill funding.
- Not be on active duty.
Children of eligible servicemembers or veterans can also take advantage of Yellow Ribbon Program funding. However, spouses do not qualify for this program.
How To Apply
If you would like to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you will need to apply for your benefits. You can do this online at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Once your application is approved, you will receive your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). You can contact schools about your eligibility for GI Bill benefits before receiving your COE, though. The VA-certifying official on campus can look into your application online. Just be sure to complete all the paperwork related to this process (and any other required paperwork at your school for that matter!) to prevent any delays or issues with your payments.
Just remember that unlike federal student loans that can be discharged and you may regain borrowing eligibility, GI Bill funding is almost never reinstated. Once you’ve used it, you can’t get it back. Be sure to choose your school and program wisely so that your GI Bill funds go toward programs that will help you get worthwhile credentials that lead to employment. Check out the College Scorecard to help you evaluate schools.