One of the main reasons many people decide to join the military is the substantial educational benefits. While serving, servicemembers can take advantage of tuition assistance and, upon an honorable discharge, can take advantage of the GI Bill to pay for college. Created as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the GI Bill was developed to assist returning World War II veterans. Since then, the GI Bill has gone through many revisions. Today’s most notable chapters of the GI Bill used by veterans are Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) and Chapter 33 (Post-9/11 GI Bill).
Montgomery GI Bill
To be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, there are multiple different categories depending upon when you joined the military; however, generally, the eligibility for most today is having an honorable discharge, serving between 2–3 years, and having paid $1,200 into the GI Bill program during your first 12 months of service. Underneath the active-duty provisions of this chapter, veterans typically have ten years to use their benefits, and they receive up to 36 months of educational benefits. Underneath this chapter, payments are sent directly to the student, and in the 2021–2022 school year, that amounted to $2,150 a month. There is also a Buy-Up program where servicemembers could add $600 in payments, for a total of $1,800, increasing their full-time payments by $150 a month.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Veterans who served at least 90 days after September 11, 2001, can transfer to the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 33. There are other eligibility criteria, such as receiving a purple heart or having a service-connected disability. Additionally, you will only receive 50% of benefits if you served between 90 days to six months and will need to service 36 months to receive 100% of benefits underneath this chapter. Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays schools directly and offers up to 36 months of benefits. This chapter will pay the maximum public in-state tuition rates, and attending a private or foreign school under the Yellow Ribbon Program will pay up to $26,041 for the 2021–2022 school year. In addition to tuition, this chapter also gives veterans a monthly housing allowance, $1,000 a year for books, and a one-time payment of $500 for moving expenses if moving from a rural area to attend school. Also, compared to Chapter 30, service members do not have to pay into the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you ended your service to the military before January 1, 2013, Post-9/11 benefits expire after 15 years. Still, if you complete your service after this date, you fall under the Forever GI Bill provision, which completely removes the expiration date. Keep in mind once you switch to Chapter 33, you cannot move back to Chapter 30. You may also transfer these benefits to a spouse or child if you have served at least six years and agree to complete four more.
If you need more information on applying for GI Bill benefits, head to the VA website to learn more.