The answers to the following GI Bill Frequently Asked Questions are provided by staff members of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The questions originated from a live blog event held on the Military Advantage blog website.
The GI Bill questions are boken down into four following categories:
Q. How do I get started on using my Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?
A. Applying is easy. Click here to begin your application process through VA.
Q. Can I combine my Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?
A. No. Servicemembers and veterans are allowed to only use one education benefit program at a time. However, in some cases you may be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill when you have exhausted your Montgomery GI Bill. To learn more, please click here.
Q. I am applying for a federal loan to help cover my tuition costs. Will the loan be paid directly to me after I have paid tuition, or will the money go straight to the school?
A. How federal loans are paid varies from school to school. Please contact your school's financial aid office on federal loan payments and other student aid programs for which you may be eligible.
Q. If I am enrolled in an online-school, which benefit should I choose – Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. For most students, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is more generous than the Montgomery GI Bill, but every student that qualifies for both should compare the benefits available through each before making a decision. For example, if you are studying strictly online you will see a 50% reduction in your Post-9/11 GI Bill living stipend
Please note: if someone is eligible for both programs, the decision to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill is an irrevocable decision and the Montgomery GI Bill will no longer be available.
Q. I am a service-connected disabled veteran; can my children use my Montgomery/Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?
A. Yes, as long as you have met the required time on active duty and transferred your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to your children prior to your separation. Benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill are not transferable to children. For more information on transferability, please click here.
Q. Once I've used either my Montgomery/Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit, can I use the other program to finish my education?
A. Except under very limited circumstances where you can apply for a waiver, once you have used up your Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, they are gone. However, if you are unemployed and between the ages of 35-60 you can receive up to one year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits for re-training under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.
Q. How long after separation from service do I have to use my Montgomery GI Bill benefits?
A. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after separation from the military. There are some exceptions, however. To find out if you still have eligibility for the Montgomery GI Bill, please click here or call VA at 1-888-442-4551.
Q. I retired from the military more than 20 years ago, but I never used my Montgomery GI Bill benefit, can I still use it today?
A. Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after the latest discharge, which must be under honorable conditions. However, if you are a veteran who is currently unemployed, and between the ages of 35-60, you may qualify for an additional year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act.
Q. What are the eligibility criteria for a veteran with a general discharge who elected the Montgomery GI Bill at time of enlistment?
A. To be eligible for the Montgomery Bill, you must have a discharge under honorable conditions. If you received a general discharge, that status would need to be changed in order to receive Montgomery GI Bill benefits. To request an upgrade to the character of discharge, contact your service's Board for the Correction of Military Records (BCMR).
Q. Is there an expiration of benefits for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. Yes. In most cases, servicemembers and veterans will need to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill within 15 years of discharge from the military.
Q. I retired from the military before 2009, am I or are my dependents eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. Anyone who served at least 90 days on active duty after September 11, 2001, is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Those who served less than 36 months since 9/11/2001 will receive a reduced benefit. Those who retired prior to August 1, 2009, are not eligible to transfer benefits to their dependents. For information on eligibility and transferability, please click here.
Q. Can I transfer my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to my spouse and children? What if I retired before putting them down as beneficiaries?
A. Those who meet the time in service requirements and apply for transfer of benefits while still on active duty can transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to spouses and dependents. However, dependents must be named and assigned at least 1% of the benefits available prior to discharge. The percentages can be changed at any time. Please click here for more information on using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and transferability.
Q. Can I use my Post-9/11 GI Bill for summer courses?
A. Yes, participants in the Post-9/11 GI Bill can use the benefit to take summer courses so long as the course has been approved for GI Bill benefits. Please check with your guidance counselor for more information.
Q. I retired from the military before the Post-9/11 GI Bill was available. Do I have access to the benefit, and if not, is anything available to me?
A. Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are dependent on the length of service post-September 11, 2001. Veterans with a service-connected disability may also qualify for the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act also contains training benefits for unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. To learn more about eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and other VA educational programs, please click here.
Q. What is the difference between Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. The Tuition Assistance (TA) program is administered by the Department of Defense and has its own set of rules and eligibility. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a benefit program that is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, servicemembers using TA can continue their education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill upon separation from the military.
Q. Can I use my Post-9/11 GI Bill to a get a pilot's license and does the school need to be a FAA Part 141 School? Will books and other materials be paid for under my benefit?
A. Yes, you can now use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for certain types of flight training. To learn more about the benefit, please click here.
Q. Can I use my Post-9/11 GI Bill for other vocational training, such as a trade school or to get my CPA?
A. Yes, the Post-9/11 GI Bill can be used for vocational training. For more information, please click here.
Q. Am I entitled to a housing stipend from the Post-9/11 GI Bill if I am attending correspondence school or taking online classes?
A. If you are taking all classes online you are eligible for up to 50% of the national average housing stipend. If you are taking correspondence courses, special rules apply. To learn more about correspondence schools under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, please click here.
Q. Does ROTC count toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. No. ROTC as well as Service Academy graduates must complete their initial active duty commitment before counting active duty toward Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.
Q. I am a member of the National Guard/Reserve, what type of days count toward Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?
A. Any time you spend on Title 10 active duty, or under certain types of Title 32 orders, count toward eligible time for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Contact the VA for assistance in determining what types of active duty qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.
Q. Are there types of Title 32, section 502(f) active duty that don't qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. Currently, veterans can use Title 32 active duty time if it was for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the National Guard, or for the purposes of responding to a national emergency as declared by the President.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
Q. What criteria do I need to meet to qualify for the Yellow Ribbon program?
Q. Do scholarships count against the payments made by VA when I use my Post-9/11 GI Bill?
A. For those who qualify at the 100% rate, VA pays the net balance of tuition and fees after other sources of financial aid are applied to tuition and fees. For those qualifying for reduced Post-9/11 assistance, VA will pay the appropriate percentage of the tuition and fees. Non-GI Bill aid specifically designated for other that tuition and fees – for example for living expenses – will not reduce the VA's net payment.
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