The Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most comprehensive education benefits programs available in 2016, and it could save you tens of thousands of dollars in educational expenses.
Find out how you can maximize your return from this valuable suite of benefits by reviewing the material below.
Post 9/11 GI Bill Eligibility Guidelines
To qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits program, you need to complete (or have completed) at least 90 days of aggregate military service occurring after September 10th, 2001, or get discharged with a service-related disability after 30 days of of service after the same date.
One additional eligibility qualifier is that you must either still be in the service, or have received an honorable discharge to collect and use these benefits.
Receiving a general discharge under honorable conditions isn’t enough to qualify you for the benefits, and dishonorable discharges definitely don’t allow you to take advantage of this valuable program either, so you’d better behave yourself.
Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Programs
Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits provide financial assistance for up to 36 months worth of education training (it doesn’t have to be consecutive), and are typically available for up to 15 years following your release from active duty service.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education programs like:
- Undergraduate Degree Programs
- Graduate Degree Programs
- Vocational or Technical Training Programs
- On-The-Job Training Programs
- Flight Training Programs
- Correspondence Training Programs
- Licensing Programs (of all sorts of types)
- National Testing Programs
- Entrepreneuership Training Programs
- Tutorial Assistance Programs
There’s no guarantee that the program you want to enroll in is covered by Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, however, so before you enroll, be sure to contact your local VA representative to make certain that your tuition or fees are eligible to be reimbursed.
In many cases, Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are also eligible to be transferred to military dependents (like spouses or children), but that depends on a variety of circumstances.
Here are some of the specific benefits packages offered as part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill:
Tuition & Fees Reimbursement
Everyone who takes part in the Post 9/11 GI Bill gets some significant money to help cover the costs of tuition and fees at qualified institutions of higher learning, but rates depend on the type of school that you attend:
- Public School, In-State Students – You’ll get 100% coverage for the full tuition and fees rates if you attend a public school as an in-state student, no matter what it costs. The money is paid directly to your school though, so don’t think that you can spend it on other purchases.
- Private Schools or Foreign Schools – The amount you’ll receive in tuition and fees reimbursement is capped at a “national maximum rate”, which changes each year. In 2013, the most you can receive per year is $18,077.50.
- Private Schools or Foreign Schools in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Texas – If you’re attending an institute of higher learning one of these states, and you’ve been enrolled in the same educational program since January 4th, 2011, then you’re eligible for slightly higher tuition and fees reimbursement rates. You can view those rates here.
The Yellow Ribbon Program
If you’re attending a public school as an out of state student, or a private or foreign school with tuition and fees higher than what the Post 9/11 GI Bill ordinarily covers, then you may be able to get reimbursement for some of that difference by taking advantage of the Yellow Ribbon Program.
A Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)
The VA has changed terminology on this benefit (they used to call it Basic Allowance for Housing or BAH Pay), but it is still a part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Anyone who’s enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill will receive financial assistance in the form of a monthly housing allowance, or MHA.
An Annual Books & Supplies Stipend
You’ll receive up to $1,000 per year in financial assistance to help cover the cost of your books and supplies.
It’s highly likely that this won’t cover the entire amount you need to spend as a full-time student though, so be sure to look into other scholarship or grant opportunities. This benefit is paid out proportionately based on enrollment.
A One-Time Rural Benefit
Those relocating from highly rural areas (counties with 6 persons or less per square mile) can receive up to $500 in the form of a one-time rural benefit if they also meet one of the following conditions:
- Physically relocate (move) at least 500 miles to attend a qualified institution of higher learning, OR
- Travel by air to physically attend a qualified institution of higher learning, only if no other land-based transportation exists to make the same move
Break Pay (Interval Pay)
Break pay used to be provided to cover gaps between semesters or trimesters, but as of August 1st, 2011, this program has been discontinued, except under extremely strict circumstances. Break pay can still be received if your school is closed due to an Executive Order from the President of the United States, or an emergency, like a natural disaster or a teachers strike.
These will give you all the details you need to know about eligibility, transferability and most importantly, how much money you’ll be able to receive as a participant in the program.
For more information about other available benefits programs, be sure to check out our Guide to Military Education Benefits.