If you are looking to further your education and are attached to the military in any way, make sure you take full advantage of your military education benefits, specifically the GI Bill. Don’t let it go to waste. Here are some of the basics of what you should know about your military education benefits and what they can do for you.
Military education benefits you may be eligible for include:
The Post-9/11 GI Bill (New)
The Montgomery GI Bill (Traditional)
The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)
What exactly is the GI Bill?
The GI Bill is actually a variety if bills in place to help active military, veterans and their family members pay for a higher level of education. This involves financial assistance for education-related expenses such as tuition, books, supplies and housing allowances.
David MunÃµz from Colorado Springs, former Senior Airman/E4 of the United States Air Force, has this to say about the Post 9/11 GI Bill that he is currently using to pay for a 2 year educational program:
“The Government pays my school directly for my tuition and fees, sends me a $500 stipend every semester for books, and gives me a monthly living allowance based on my zip code. All of this allows me to attend school full-time and focus on studies without having to work a full-time job. It’s working out great for me.”
Top 5 Benefits of the GI Bill
The money is totally non-taxable.
It works for a variety of educational program types.
There is usually enough money to cover all educational expenses, and depending on the program, living expenses as well.
With the added funds for living, you may be able to go to school full time and not have to work on the side, allowing you to focus on your studies and finish faster.
It’s good for 10 years after you leave the service and will likely cover your entire educational experience.
What can these benefits be used for?
Vocational or occupational training
How do I apply for the GI Bill?
You can apply for the GI Bill with the Department of Veterans Affairs by filling out a simple form.
When and how do I use my benefits?
You can begin using your military benefits after two years of service. Although you can use your educational benefits as an active duty service member, it is advised that you wait until after you have completed your service to get the most out of it.
Who do I contact for more information about military education benefits?
The Department of Veterans Affairs
Your commanding officer
A financial advisor at your chosen college campus
1 – The Post-9/11 GI Bill
The US Department of Veteran Affairs describes the Post-9/11 GI Bill as “financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”
If this applies to you, check out this list of approved training opportunities and find something that fits your lifestyle. Career-focused training programs are a great way to get started.
Approved Training for Post-9/11 GI Bill
Graduate and undergraduate degrees
Vocational, technical trades, or career training
On-the-job training, flight training
Licensing and national testing programs
What might be a little confusing is that they also say training and apprenticeships are not covered under this bill, but are due to be added as of October 1, 2011, along with many other benefits covered under the MGI Bill that were left out of the new bill.
2 – The Montgomery GI Bill
The US Department of Veteran Affairs describes the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) as “available for those who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Under Chapter 30, Active Duty members enroll and pay $100 per month for 12 months; and are then entitled to receive a monthly education benefit once they have completed a minimum service obligation. Under Chapter 1606, a reservist must be actively drilling and have a 6-year obligation in the Selected Reserve to be eligible.”
This bill will apply to the majority of military seeking financial assistance for education. It can be used for a variety of educational programs ranging from graduate to vocational studies.
3 – The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)
The US Department of Veterans Affairs explains REAP as a program that “provides educational assistance to members of National Guard and reserve components – Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) – who are called or ordered to active duty service in response to a war or national emergency as declared by the President or Congress.”
Eligibility depends on active duty served on or after Sept.11, 2001. If you have served at least 90 consecutive days or an accumulated total of three or more years, you may be eligible for these benefits. Eligibility based on continuous service constitutes payments based on the number of continuous days served, while eligibility based on active duty service accumulation of three or more years constitutes the full allowable payment.
If you are a reservist in any branch of the military, make sure to look into these benefits and take advantage of what you are eligible for; you won’t regret it.
Approved Training for REAP
Undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses
State licensure and certification courses
Courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools
Apprenticeship or on-the-job training
Independent study programs
Remedial, deficiency, or refresher courses needed to complete a program of study
Preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school
Contact your local College or Technical School to find out how to use your military benefits and get your education today.