Learn to Use Your GI Bill for Grad School

A recent graduate holds a degree and smiles.

Many people do not know that they can use their GI Bill to get a post-graduate degree. Your benefits are paid in the same manner as someone who is attending an Insitute of Higher Learning (IHL). The main difference is in the way your training time is determined. If you are taking undergraduate classes your training time is determined as follows:

  • 0-2 hours - 1/4 time
  • 3-5 hours - less than 1/2 time
  • 6-8 hours - 1/2 time
  • 9-11 hours - 3/4 time
  • 12 hours and above - full-time

For graduate training the VA will pay your benefits based on what the school reports your training time to be. So, if you are taking 3 graduate hours and the school tells the VA that you are considered a full-time student, that is what the VA will pay you.

IHL Benefits Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Tuition and Fees
The Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay your full resident tuition at a public school. If you are attending a private or foreign school it will pay up to $21,084.89 per academic year. Many schools can choose to participate in the "Yellow-Ribbon" program which can waive a portion of the difference in the tuition you are charged and the amount covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Be sure to ask your school if they are planning to participate in the program.

The amount of tuition & fees covered by the GI Bill is determined by your Post-9/11-GI Bill entitlement percentage which is based on the number of months you have served on active duty after September 10, 2001. For example, if you have served 24 months active duty after September 10, 2001 your GI Bill percentage is 80%. If you are attending a public school as an in-state resident and the tuition is $10,000 a semester you would have 80% of your tuition and fees or $8,000 paid by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Active duty time can also include Title 10 mobilizations for reservists & guard members.

Effective December 31, 2015 public schools must charge all eligible Veterans who have been out of the military for less than 3 years, and their dependents who are using transferred benefits the resident tuition rate. If schools do not follow this provision they will lose their GI Bill certification.

Housing Allowance
The Post-9/11 GI Bill also pays a Monthly Housing Allowance based on the ZIP code of the location of the school you are attending - not your home ZIP code. This stipend currently averages $1,566 a month, but can exceed $2,700 depending on where you go to school. Students taking 100% of their courses online are eligible for a monthly stipend equal to half of the national average stipend, which is currently $783.00.

Housing allowance payments are based on the amount of creditable active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001.

For example, if you have 24 months active duty after September 10, 2001 your GI Bill benefit tier percentage is 80%. If you are attending a school which has a Monthly Housing Allowance of $1000/month you would receive 80% of your housing allowance or $800/month.

This stipend is based on the DoD's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. This stipend does not require students to live on campus.

NOTE: Servicemembers currently on active duty, their spouses using transferred benefits and those taking courses on a half-time basis or less do not qualify for Monthly Housing Allowance..

Book and Supply Stipend
You may receive an annual book stipend of up to $1,000/year with the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This stipend will be paid at the beginning of each term. It is paid proportionately based on the number of credits taken by each student at $41 per credit hour.

IHL Benefits Under the Montgomery GI Bill

Payment is based on the number of classes you attend:

  • 12 hours or more - fulltime
  • 9 - 11 hours - ¾ time
  • 6 - 8 hours - ½ time
  • Less than 6 hours - reimbursed at a rate not to exceed the tuition and fees charged for the course(s).
  • For graduate level training, the training time is determined by the college - for example, if a 2 hour class is considered full time in a graduate program at your school, the VA will pay you the full time rate. 

See the current Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill rates.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
© 2015 Military Advantage