GI Bill Benefits for Service members and Their Families
The GI Bill was changed after 9/11 to accommodate the influx of service men and women being used in the armed forces. This Bill covers educational benefits that are offered to active duty Service members, reservists, National Guard members and sometimes even spouses and dependent children.
Service members who qualify have completed a minimum of 90 days of active duty, who have been discharged, and must be from an honorable discharge. Members who have served at least 30 days, but received a discharge related to a disability which occurred during service, also qualify.
Anyone serving in any department with the Veteran Affairs may be able to qualify for the GI Bill benefits. You are eligible while you are serving or after you are released from the service.
What Are the Potential Benefits Covered?
- Tuition Assistance at an approved school up to 100% of tuition costs.
- Housing Allowance up to the school’s maximum allowance or 50% if you are taking classes online). Average housing stipend is $1,566 per month. If you are active duty and already receiving a housing allowance, this amount will not be increased due to schooling.
- Up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies.
- Possible one-time relocation to move closer to the school you will be attending.
- Ability to transfer unused benefits to qualifying spouse or dependent children.
The payments are based on the length of time you have served in the military. If you have been on active duty for 36 months or more, you generally qualify for 100% in tuition payments. At the low end of 90 days of service, you would generally qualify for 40% tuition assistance. The tuition funds are paid directly to the school and could potentially pay for all of your educational costs.
As of January 2016, public colleges and universities are required to give you residency rates if you have been released from service less than 36 months ago. This benefit is available for qualifying spouses and dependents as well. If you choose a private or foreign institution, then the maximum tuition payments are capped at $21,084.89 per year.
What Type of Training Qualifies?
Fortunately, there is a wide range of training that can be paid for with the GI Bill. These include the following specifically:
- College degree programs. These include Associate, Bachelors, and Advanced degrees
- Vocational Training (auto mechanics, culinary schools, electricians and so forth)
- On the Job Training and Apprenticeships
- Certifications and Licensing (such as a real estate license or security license)
- National Testing (SAT, ACT and other entrance tests are covered)
- Flight Training
- Correspondence Training
- Work Study
- Tutorial Assistance
With so many forms of schooling covered, those who serve in the military can often gain access to higher education and job training without any out of pocket expenses. This can save you the challenge many face of running up thousands of dollars in student loans in an effort to obtain useful job skills.
If you don’t qualify for the GI Bill or have previously attended school and carry student loans, there may be other benefits that can assist with student loan payments. To learn more about the GI Bill and other military educational benefits go to http://www.military.com/media/education/pdf/post911_gibill.pdf.