05 August 2014

The GI Bill: Everything you Need to Know Pt. 1


Now that we got you fired up about wanting to go back to school, lets go over how you can go back. The GI Bill was essentially drafted to give those who served in the military the opportunity to go back to school once they finished their service. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law on June 22,1944, millions of veterans have benefited from it. From its creation, American taxpayers have paid more than $124 million in GI benefits to more than 22 million veterans and dependents.

First, are you eligible to use GI Bill benefits? If you served in the military for at least 90 days and have been honorably discharged, then yes. If you served for 36 months of active duty you are eligible to receive full benefits from the GI Bill. If you served more than 90 days but less than 3 years you are eligible for a portion of the benefits starting at 40% and increasing on a sliding scale according to how long you served. The GI Bill is only for Veterans, National Guard, and selected Reserves.

Tuition and Fees: How does the idea of going to school without having to paying out of pocket for the tuition sound? Based on what you are eligible for, the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to the school, the tuition cap is $19,198.31.

If you are interested in going to a private school but worried about the cost, there is the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP). The YRP aids in reducing out of pocket expense that service members may incur when the cost of education is higher than the tuition allowance. It basically works by the school giving you an additional amount of money to attend their school (usually around $10,000) and the VA will match it. Not all schools participate in the program but see what schools by area do here.

Monthly Living Stipend: Wondering how will you pay for rent while going to school full time? You will be eligible to receive a monthly stipend: your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). The stipend is based on where your school is located and not where you live. If you have dependents or are only taking online classes this will be factored into your BAH. 

Books and School Supplies: Ever notice how expensive textbook are? Don’t worry about covering all the costs, you will receive an annual stipend up to $1,000 each year that will put a dent in those texts books.

One-Time Relocation: There is a small relocation allowance of $500 that’s offered once. You have to move at least 500 miles to attend an educational institution or have to travel by air to attend an educational institution if no other land-based transportation exists.

Benefits Transferable: One great thing to know is that your GI benefits are transferable to your spouse or children. This new benefit was made possible with the Post 9/11 GI Bill but does have strict guidelines. In order to qualify, you have to had to served on or after August 1, 2009. The guidelines can be complicated and there is a 10-year service commitment required but think of it this way; it translates into free educational funds for your family.

So how long do you have to use your GI benefits? If you served prior to 9/11/2001, you have ten years from your discharge date or they disappear. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have 15 years after the time of discharge to use your benefits. For more information about the GI Bill check out this website.

Curious about what members of RallyPoint think of the GI Bill? Weigh in on the discussions here and connect within the military community.

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