Educational Benefits Under the GI Bill

Jul 20, 2018

This article explores the educational benefits available under the GI Bill. These benefits help Veterans, servicemembers, their children, and spouses pay for their education. Each benefit is discussed along with the requirements that need to be met to qualify for these benefits.

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Introduced in 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of active servicemembers, Veterans and their dependents and spouses pursue their educational goals by assisting them with tuition and fee expenses. We will discuss the benefits available under the GI Bill and the requirements that need to be met to use them.

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Educational Benefits Under the GI Bill

As of 2018, the GI Bill Program has about 10 benefits that servicemembers, Veterans, their spouses, and dependents may use to help pay their educational and training expenses. The educational benefits under the GI Bill are listed below.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The post-9/11 GI Bill is an educational benefit that helps pay for education and training expenses incurred by military service members that are active after September 10, 2001, Veterans discharged honorably, or servicemembers discharged 30 days after experiencing a service-related disability. This benefit may be used for 36 months.

This benefit pays for all public school tuition and fees and private school tuition and fees that are less than actual tuition and fees or lower than the national maximum per year. The servicemember has 15 years to use this benefit if their release from the military occurred before January 1, 2013; otherwise, there is no time limitation. There are many different types of education and training programs that are approved, including colleges with undergraduate and graduate degrees, online learning, vocational training, and flight training, to name a few. Servicemembers with unused GI Bill benefits may transfer those benefits to their children.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program pays for educational expenses that exceed those paid by the Post-911 GI Bill because the service member is attending graduate school, a private school or a public school as a non-resident student. Check to see if your school of choice takes part in this program.

Veterans and dependents may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program when using transferred benefits. These additional funds are not subtracted from Post-911 GI Bill benefits. The Veteran must receive the maximum benefit rate of the Post-911 GI Bill to be eligible. The Veteran and servicemember have 10 years after an honorable discharge to use this benefit.

Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty

Also referred to as Chapter 30, the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) is available to honorably discharged service members who have paid a designated minimum amount into the program. They must also meet the service time obligation to be eligible.

This benefit pays for education expenses incurred by Veterans and servicemembers who actively served for more than two years. This benefit pays for 36 months of education and training expenses. This benefit must be used within 10 years of separation from service.

Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve

The Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) is an educational benefit for active drilling Reservists obligated for 6 years in the Selected Reserve. This benefit pays for 36 months of education and training expenses.

Eligible reserves include Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, and Air Force Reserve. The Selected Reserve makes the final determination of the reservist's eligibility. The Reservist must be in the Selected Reserve and in good standing.

Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program

Also referred to as Chapter 35, the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program is an educational benefit for the children and spouse of a deceased or disabled Veteran. One of several stringent conditions must be met by the deceased or disabled Veteran in order for their children and/or spouse to qualify.

This benefit pays a maximum monthly payment of $1,041 for 45 months to the school for apprenticeships, on-the-job training, certificate courses, college undergraduate programs, and college graduate programs. Ordinarily, the child must choose either the Fry Scholarship or this benefit, but if the servicemember died before August 1, 2011, in the line of duty, they can receive both this benefit and the Fry Scholarship and 81 months of training and education. Once a choice is made, it is permanent.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship)

The Fry Scholarship pays educational expenses for children or living spouse of a servicemember who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Remarried living spouses do not qualify for this scholarship.

The scholarship pays for 36 months of education expenses including public school in-state tuition and $22,805.34 towards tuition at a private or out-of-state school; housing; school supplies; and books. Children who qualify are 18-years-old or more, have graduated from high school and are less than 33 years old. The spouse must use this benefit within 15 years of the servicemember's death unless the servicemember died between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2005, then they are eligible up to January 1, 2021.

Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

Qualifying service members can transfer their benefits to their children or spouse under the Post-911 GI Bill if they are in the Selected Reserve or are active duty. To qualify, the servicemember must agree to 4 additional years of service and have already served 6 years or have completed 10 years of service and agree to serve the maximum time allowed.

Once the transfer has been approved, the spouse or children may receive 36 months of paid tuition, housing, books and school supplies. Spouses cannot receive housing allowances if the servicemember is still on active duty, but the children can. Children over 25 of age do not qualify.

$600 Buy-Up Program

The $600 Buy-Up Program works in conjunction with the Montgomery GI Bill. Servicemembers may increase their monthly Montgomery GI Bill contribution to any amount up to $600.

If the maximum $600 is contributed into the program, the servicemember will receive an extra $5,400 in GI Bill benefits. The $600 Buy-Up Program must be used with the Montgomery GI Bill. It cannot be used with the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program

The Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program provides additional benefits for Veterans receiving the Federal Tuition Assistance program if the tuition and fees exceed the Tuition Assistance amount. To qualify, the Veteran must also qualify for Montgomery GI Active Duty or Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

The Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program pays the amount exceeded by the cost of tuition and the amount paid for by the MGIB or Post 9/11 GI Bill for 36 months. If the servicemember is using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, VA will pay the school the excess amount. If the servicemember is using the Montgomery GI Bill, VA will pay the servicemember the excess amount.

Tutorial Assistance

If the Veteran is receiving GI Bill benefits, the Tutorial Assistance Program will pay for a tutor if the Veteran finds the course too difficult and needs a tutor. If the course covers a difficult subject, the course is required, and the Veteran is enrolled part or full-time, they will qualify for this benefit.

This program will pay the Veteran $100 per month not exceeding $1,200 total to pay the tutor. If the Veteran is using the MGIB, $600 will be paid by VA before their benefits are charged. If the Veteran is using the Post-9/11 Bill or DEA, their GI Bill benefits will not be charged. A letter is required from the school stating that a tutor is needed to successfully pass the course.

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