The following is a letter from Curt Coy, the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Colleagues and Fellow Veterans,
Believe it or not, it's time to consider enrolling for school this coming fall.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a robust education benefits program rivaling the WWII Era GI Bill of Rights. Benefits for those who have served on active duty after September 10, 2001, can include up to 100% tuition and fees, a housing allowance, books and supplies stipends, benefit transferability and more. After almost four years, we have seen over 990k beneficiaries take advantage of this great program at over 9,000 training or educational institutions.
However, as comprehensive as the Post-9/11 GI Bill is, we have many Veterans who do not qualify for the program. They may have served before 9/11, used up their benefits, were unable to use them before they expired, or served in the Guard or Reserve under orders not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. While we do have programs that address these situations, there are additional resources available to fill in the gaps where federal benefits leave off.
Several states offer Veterans education benefits and programs of their own, in addition, or as an alternative to federal GI Bill benefits. A few examples: Texas residents who have used all of their GI Bill benefits can have their tuition waived at public schools if they were honorably discharged and served 181 days of active duty military service. Colorado offers public in-state tuition rates to all Servicemembers who qualify for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In West Virginia, National Guard members pay the in-state tuition rate even if they haven't established residency.
The American Legion hosts a state-by-state listing of education benefits. Keep in mind state benefits are not static-more and more states are passing legislation to offer in-state tuition to Veterans, making their schools more welcoming and accessible to Veterans. The Post-9/11 GI Bill Facebook page keeps an eye on this kind of legislation, and frequently posts information about education benefits at the state and even the school level. I encourage you to explore these resources and pass them along to your Veteran contacts so they may fully take advantage of all available benefits.
Additionally, there are numerous scholarships and programs available for military spouses and dependents. The Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program works to provide military spouses with comprehensive resources and tools to strengthen their education and career opportunities. Trained counselors help spouses identify their career interests and aptitudes. They provide information about today's job market and work opportunities, including portable skills and careers, entrepreneurship and federal employment options. Counselors help spouses learn about education options and licensing or credentialing requirements. They also help spouses identify, compare and weigh the costs of potential schools and programs to help them reach their career goals.