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Guide To Types Of GI Bills: Eligibility, Benefits & Applications

July 17, 2023

The GI Bill is a pivotal offering by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to financially support service members and veterans in their post-service educational pursuits. Over the years, multiple versions have been introduced to cater to specific needs, all of which underscore America's commitment to its military personnel. Let's delve into the various types of GI Bills available.

The Need for GI Bills

The GI Bills play a vital role in enabling veterans to transition seamlessly into civilian life. After serving their country, many veterans seek to expand their education or vocational skills to build a fulfilling and successful post-military career. However, the financial burden associated with higher education or training can pose significant barriers. That's where the GI Bills come in. 

The different types of GI Bills offer financial support to veterans and active-duty military personnel, reducing or even eliminating the costs of obtaining an education or professional training. Furthermore, some versions of the GI Bill also extend benefits to the dependents of service members, ensuring that the families of those who have served are also supported. 

In essence, the GI Bills serve as a token of gratitude from a nation to its warriors, a tool for personal development, and a bridge connecting military service to civilian life. Therefore, the need for GI Bills is not just financial, but it's also about fostering opportunity, equity, and continued growth for those who have dedicated a significant part of their lives to serving their country.

The Types of GI Bills

Now let’s take a look at the main types of GI Bills accessible to veterans.

1. Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers comprehensive education benefits to service members and veterans who served a minimum of 90 days of aggregate duty after September 10, 2001 or were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers:

  • Tuition fees.

  • Monthly housing allowance.

  • Yearly books and supplies stipend.

  • The ability to transfer benefits to dependents under specific criteria.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Minimum service of 90 days on active duty after September 10, 2001.

  • An honorable discharge.

  • Purple Heart recipients, regardless of length of service.

  • Service members who became disabled due to service-related activity.

Application Process:

  • Use the VA’s online application system, known as eBenefits, or VA Form 22-1990.

  • Submit military transcripts and previous education records.

  • Upon approval, you'll receive a Certificate of Eligibility to share with the school.

2. Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD, Chapter 30)

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) provides up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans and service members for programs such as college, business, technical, or vocational courses.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Enlistment after June 30, 1985.

  • A minimum of two years of active duty.

  • Contributed $1,200 to the MGIB fund during the first year of service.

Application Process:

  • Apply through the VA's eBenefits portal or by mailing VA Form 22-1990.

  • Upon approval, VA will send a Certificate of Eligibility.

  • Share the certificate with the school or program.

3. Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR, Chapter 1606)

The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program provides education and training benefits to eligible members of the Selected Reserve, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Six-year commitment to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985.

  • Completion of initial active duty for training (IADT).

  • Good standing in a drilling reserve unit.

Application Process:

  • Apply through the VA's eBenefits portal or by mailing VA Form 22-1990.

  • VA will send a Certificate of Eligibility upon approval.

  • Share this certificate with the school or program.

4. Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP, Chapter 1607)

The REAP was a program that provided benefits to Reservists who were called to active duty in response to a war or national emergency, as declared by the President or Congress. However, it was sunsetted in 2015 and no new applications are accepted. Existing beneficiaries maintain their eligibility.

5. Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP, Chapter 32)

VEAP is available to veterans who served between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985, and who made contributions to the program from their military pay. The government matches these contributions 2-for-1.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Entered service between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985.

  • Opened and contributed to a VEAP account before April 1, 1987.

  • Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2700.

  • Completed your first period of service and were discharged honorably.

Application Process:

  • Apply through the VA's eBenefits portal or by mailing VA Form 22-1990.

  • VA will send a Certificate of Eligibility upon approval.

  • Share this certificate with the school or program.

6. Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA, Chapter 35)

The DEA provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You’re the child or spouse of a veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has disabilities.

  • The VA must determine that you qualify.

Application Process:

  • Apply through the VA's eBenefits portal or by mailing VA Form 22-5490.

  • Upon approval, VA will send a Certificate of Eligibility.

  • Share this certificate with the school or program.

Please note: The exact benefits, eligibility criteria, and application process may change over time, so it's important to check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or a VA representative for the most current information. 

Bridging the Financial Gap: The Yellow Ribbon Program

Expanding the reach of the GI Bills is the Yellow Ribbon Program, designed specifically to mitigate the financial barriers for veterans aspiring to attend higher-cost educational institutions:

  • Purpose: The program supplements the tuition coverage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill when costs exceed its upper limit, providing opportunities for veterans to attend private or out-of-state public institutions.

  • Operation: Institutions voluntarily participate in the program by deciding the amount of tuition and fees they will waive, and the VA matches this amount.

  • Eligibility: Veterans must qualify for the maximum benefit rate of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, such as serving at least 36 months on active duty or receiving a Purple Heart.

  • Participation: Colleges and universities must agree with the VA to support a specified number of students and contribute a specified amount towards tuition and fees.

In short, the Yellow Ribbon Program paves the way for veterans to access a broader spectrum of educational possibilities, allowing them to turn aspirations into reality.

Diverse Paths: Alternative Uses for the GI Bill Benefits

While most often used for traditional college degree programs, the GI Bill benefits can indeed be used for a variety of alternative educational and training programs. Here are a few examples:

  • Non-college degree programs: These include training at non-degree granting institutions, like truck driving schools, medical training centers, and other vocational and technical training programs.

  • On-the-job and apprenticeship training: Veterans can use their GI Bill benefits for on-the-job and apprenticeship programs, providing a viable path to employment in fields that require more practical, hands-on training.

  • Flight training: If a veteran is enrolled in a degree program that requires flight training or wants to become a professional pilot, they can use their benefits for eligible flight training programs.

  • Correspondence training: The GI Bill benefits can cover correspondence training for a variety of professional and vocational skills, such as photography or broadcasting.

  • Licensing and certification tests: Veterans can use their benefits to cover the cost of tests for licenses and certifications necessary for many professional fields, such as information technology, healthcare, and real estate.

  • Entrepreneurship training: Veterans interested in starting their own business can use their benefits for entrepreneurship training programs.

  • Work-study programs: Veterans who are full-time or 3/4-time students in a college degree, vocational, or professional program can "earn while they learn" with a VA work-study allowance.

  • National testing programs: Veterans can be reimbursed for taking national tests such as SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.

  • Tuition Assistance top-up program: Veterans who qualify for Tuition Assistance through the military can use the GI Bill to cover additional costs that exceed what's covered by Tuition Assistance.

It's important to remember that not all programs and schools are eligible for the GI Bill, so it's essential to check with the VA or a VA-approved counselor before deciding how to use these benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use two different GI Bills at the same time?

While you can be eligible for more than one education benefit, you're only able to use one at a time.

2. What happens to my GI Bill benefits if I withdraw from my course or school?

Withdrawal from a course or school may affect your GI Bill benefits and could result in an overpayment that must be paid back.

3. Can I get an extension on my GI Bill benefits?

In certain cases, you may be able to get an extension or restoration of your benefits. This usually requires you to show that you couldn't complete your program due to circumstances beyond your control.

4. Are there limitations on how long I can use my GI Bill benefits?

Yes, most GI Bills have a “delimiting date,” which is typically 10 to 15 years from the date of your last discharge or release from active duty.

5. What are the different types of GI Bills?

The GI Bills include the Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, each with distinct eligibility criteria and benefits.

Conclusion

Understanding the various types of GI Bills is vital for veterans and service members planning their education. Each bill caters to the diverse needs of those who served, offering financial assistance and more, facilitating transitions from military life. These benefits symbolize the nation's gratitude for the brave service of its military personnel.

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Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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