Let’s Talk About Your G.I. Bill Educational Benefits

Montgomery G.I. Bill and Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Explained – Tuition Assistance & Eligibility

In 1944, Congress passed the G.I. Bill to help veterans of World War II by offering low-interest mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business or farm, and dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses to attend high school, college or vocational school.

Officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, it delivered close to $4 billion in benefits to nearly 9 million veterans from 1944 through 1949. The original legislation expired in 1956, but the G.I. Bill was revamped in 1984 by former Mississippi Congressman Gillespie “Sonny” Montgomery, in part to ensure that veterans of the Vietnam War had opportunities to receive higher education.

Today it is called the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB). It functions as an opt-in program that provides substantial educational benefits for eligible veterans and service members with at least two years active duty, as well as to those in the Selected Reserve who meet specific criteria.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you are a service member or military veteran it could mean access to over $72,000 in cash and numerous support programs, according to Military.com.

Additionally, some modern-era service members and veterans may be eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, established in 2008 to provide educational assistance for service members who served on active duty for 90 or more days since September 10, 2001.

Bottom line: These programs could represent a life-changing opportunity to receive significant tuition assistance to advance your education and your career.

Educational Benefits Eligibility [Montgomery G.I. Bill vs. Post-9/11 G.I. Bill]

Of course, as is sometimes the case when the government is involved, it can be a little confusing to figure out what benefits you may be eligible for, then how to apply for and receive them. That’s why we’ve compiled this post — to provide you with valuable information that will help you put those benefits to use, if you choose to.

The following synopsis of the two most relevant programs, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, is provided by Frank, an organization that helps people access financial aid resources for higher education.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

Under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, you can receive full tuition coverage at a public university. The bill will cover tuition for private and foreign schools; check the VA Education Benefits Site for restrictions.

To be eligible for any tuition coverage, you need to have accrued one of the following since September 11, 2001:

  • 90 days of active service all together
  • 30 continuous days of service if you were discharged because of disability

To get 100 percent coverage, you must have served 36 months or more. This percentage decreases until you reach 90 days, which qualifies you for 40 percent coverage. There is a 15-year limitation, but this does not apply if you were discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is the only benefit that pays tuition directly to the educational establishment. Students also receive a housing stipend and money for books and other supplies (see video).

Montgomery G.I. Bill

There are two Montgomery G.I. Bills available to service members and veterans — one for active duty (MGIB-AD) and one for selected reserve (MGIB-SR).

To qualify for the MGIB-AD, you need to have contributed $100 per month for the first 12 months of your active duty service, served for a two-year continuous enlistment, and been honorably discharged. The bill pays out a monthly maximum of $1,994 and can pay up to nearly $72,000 for your college education over a 36-month period. The benefits are good for up to 10 years after your service completion.

The MGIB-SR offers up to $11,000 over 36 months for Selected Reserve or Guard members. To be eligible, you must have committed to at least a six-year service obligation, completed initial active duty for training and remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit.

Federal Military Tuition Assistance: What’s All This About ‘Chapters’?

To help organize and distinguish between the different tuition assistance options provided for military-affiliated individuals, the federal government breaks it down into “chapters.” Here is a quick review:

Chapter 30 (Montgomery G.I. Bill)

Veterans or service members need at least two years of active duty service to qualify for up to 36 months of education benefits. Amounts vary based on the type of training or education you are pursuing.

Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehab Program)

Not applicable to higher education, this program helps active duty service members with a service-related disability prepare for, obtain and maintain gainful employment or achieve independence in daily living.

Chapter 32 (Veterans Education Assistance)

This program applies to veterans who were active duty between Jan. 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985. Participants elected to make contributions from their military pay to be applied toward education benefits and the military made a 2-1 match.

Chapter 33 (Post-9/11)

The Post-9/11 program is for veterans and service members who have served on active duty after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. To qualify, at least one of the following must be true:

  • Served at least 90 days on active duty (either all at once or with breaks) on or after Sept. 11, 2001
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and was honorably discharged after any amount of service
  • Served for at least 30 continuous days on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and was honorably discharged with a service-connected disability
  • Are a dependent child using benefits transferred by a qualifying veteran or service member

Similar to Chapter 30, it allows for up to 36 months of benefits. Eligible service members also are provided a housing allowance and a $1,000 annual stipend for books.

Chapter 35 (Survivors and Dependents)

This provides up to 45 months of education benefits for dependents of veterans who have a terminal illness due to a service-related condition, or who were called to active duty or had a disability related to serving. Eligible individuals are dependents, spouses and surviving spouses who meet certain requirements.

Chapter 1606 (GI Bill/Selected Reserve)

This bill was enacted by Congress to help attract men and women into the reserve branch of the Armed Forces. Qualifying members may receive up to 36 months of educational tuition assistance.

Chapter 1607 (Reserve Educational Assistance)

This is an educational benefit for reserve members who were called into active duty after Sept. 11, 2001, and served at least 90 days, making them eligible for up to 80% of Chapter 30 benefits.

Using Your Montgomery G.I. Bill Education Benefits

For questions about your potential eligibility for education benefits under the programs listed above, one excellent resource is the Veterans Administration page on “How To Apply for the GI Bill and Related Benefits.”

However, the federal bureaucracy can get pretty complicated; that’s why the VA also offers resources for connecting you with professionals who are trained and certified in VA benefits claims processes.

Additional VA resources include:

  • An informative overview page on VA education and training benefits
  • A G.I. Bill benefits calculator and comparison tool
  • A telephone hotline: 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551), 7am–6pm CST, M-F

Another way to get assistance in charging through the red tape to utilize the educational benefits that you have earned through your service to your country is to coordinate with an educational institution you are considering attending.

One institution that places a premium on helping military and military-affiliated individuals understand and access their benefits is the University of Cincinnati, which offers a comprehensive lineup of high-quality online and on-campus degree and certificate programs.

Online degree opportunities can be ideal for those with a military background, and several University of Cincinnati Online (UCO) programs — graduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Nursing — have been named by U.S. News & World Report as among the “Best Online Programs for Veterans.”

The UCO website features a special welcome page for military-affiliated students that includes a helpful overview, as well as a form you can use to connect with an enrollment advisor to start getting answers to some of your questions.

With more than 2,000 military-affiliated students among its ranks, the university stands ready to help you understand military and veteran financial aid benefits that may be available to you (contact the Veterans Programs & Services office at 513-556-6811 or vetcert@uc.edu).

Overall, the University of Cincinnati Online believes in going the extra mile when it comes to connecting military-affiliated individuals with life-changing educational opportunities. “No matter how you have served, or are serving,” the UCO website says, “we are here to help you get the education you deserve.”

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