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How the Post 9/11 GI Bill can benefit you

Interested in pursuing a higher-level education? Going back to school is often an option considered by veterans about to start the civilian job search. Unfortunately, many are unaware of how to utilize the education benefits given to them by the military for themselves, or their family members.

Understanding the jargon associated with the various GI bills may be confusing to follow. This article is the first of two in this series and serves to explain the Post 9/11 GI Bill in as simple terms as possible. Additionally, it is designed to provide you with the necessary resources to evaluate your qualifications and learn more about your available benefits. This post is not all inclusive, and it is important to cross-check your qualifications and eligibility for all benefits and programs.

A Brief Summary:

As outlined on My Army Benefits, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is “an education benefit program specifically for military members who served in active duty on, or after, September 11, 2001.” The program awards benefits based on an individual’s time spent with the military, and may include coverage of tuition and associated fees, a housing allowance, a stipend for books and supplies, Yellow Ribbon Payments, and transferability to either a spouse or children. The benefits are available to be used by the veteran up to 15 years after separation from the military.

Reservists and National Guard Members are eligible for the same benefits as Active Duty members under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a change from the past. The benefits are determined and awarded to those members proportionately to the cumulative amount of time that they served in Active Duty.

Benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill are awarded on a percentage basis, depending on the amount of qualifying active duty service. Coverage of 100% provides the maximum benefit, as outlined below. To better understand the various percentages, a table borrowed from My Army Benefits, has been included for your convenience.

Benefit Earned Based on Qualifying Active Duty Service

Individuals serving an aggregate period
of active duty after September 10, 2001 of:
Includes entry level
and skill training?
     % of
Maximum Benefit
At least 36 monthsYes100%
At least 30 continuous days on active duty
(Discharged due to service-connected disability)
At least 30 months, but less than 36 monthsYes90%
At least 24 months, but less than 30 monthsYes80%
At least 18 months, but less than 24 monthsNo70%
At least 12 months, but less than 18 monthsNo60%
At least 6 months, but less than 12 monthsNo50%
At least 90 days, but less than 6 monthsNo40%

Maximum Basic Benefit:

Provided you meet the qualifications for maximum benefits, you should have access to:

  • Full tuition and fees paid directly to the school (for public school in-state students), and up to $19,198.31 per academic year in tuition and fees for those attending private or foreign schools.
  • A stipend of up to $1000 a year for text books and supplies. *It is important to note that this stipend is not available for those still in active duty or pursuing training at half-time or less.
  • A college fund based on whether the student is part time or full time that is issued monthly with housing allowance. *Again, it is important to note that the housing allowance is not available for those still in active duty or pursuing training at half-time or less.
  • A one-time payment of $500 to those coming from “highly rural areas” –defined as a county with six or fewer persons per square mile.

It may initially seem overwhelming, but there are many resources available to help military members successfully use their benefits to continue higher education. If you’re looking where to start, complete and submit this application from the VA to first receive your certificate of eligibility to begin the process of using your Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Be sure to read our second post next week, which covers the pros and cons of the other GI Bills, ways to apply for additional funding, the Yellow Ribbon Program and explains how to transfer benefits!