Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
This chapter provides a summary of VA educational and training benefits. Additional information can be found at www.gibill.va.gov or by calling 1-888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).
Eligibility: The Post- 9/11 GI Bill is an education benefit program for Servicemembers and Veterans who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001. Benefits are payable for training pursued on or after Aug. 1, 2009. No payments can be made under this program for training pursued before that date.
To be eligible, the Servicemember or Veteran must serve at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, and remain on active duty or be honorably discharged. Active duty includes active service performed by National Guard members under title 32 U.S.C. for the purposes of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the National Guard; or under section 502(f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency.
Veterans may also be eligible if they were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability after serving 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001. Generally, Servicemembers or Veterans may receive up to 36 months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Eligibility for benefits expires 15 years from the last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days. If released for a service-connected disability after at least 30 days of continuous service, eligibility ends 15 years from when the member is released for the service-connected disability.
If, on Aug.1, 2009, the Servicemember or Veteran is eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill; the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve; or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, and qualifies for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, an irrevocable election must be made to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
In most instances, once the election to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is made, the individual will no longer be eligible to receive benefits under the relinquished program.
Based on the length of active duty service, eligible participants are entitled to receive a percentage of the following:
* The housing allowance is not payable to individuals pursuing training at half time or less.
Approved training under the Post-9/11 GI Bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational/technical training, on-the-job training, flight training, correspondence training, licensing and national testing programs, and tutorial assistance.
Individuals serving an aggregate period of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001 can receive the following percentages based on length of service:
Active duty service
At least 36 months
At least 30 continuous days and discharged due to service-connected disability
At least 30 months < 36 months (1)
At least 24 months < 30 months (1)
At least 18 months < 24 months (2)
At least 12 months < 18 months (2)
At least 6 months < 12 months (2)
At least 90 days < 6 months (2)
(1) Includes service on active duty in entry level and skill training. (2) Excludes service on active duty in entry level and skill training. (3) If the individual would only qualify at the 70% level when service on active duty in entry level and skill training is excluded, then VA can only pay at the 70% level.
Transfer of Entitlement (TOE): DOD may offer members of the Armed Forces on or after Aug.1, 2009, the opportunity to transfer benefits to a spouse or dependent children. DOD and the military services must approve all requests for this benefit. Members of the Armed Forces approved for the TOE may only transfer any unused portion of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits while a member of the Armed Forces, subject to their period of eligibility.
The Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program was enacted to potentially assist eligible individuals with payment of their tuition and fees in instances where costs exceed the in-state tuition charges at a public institution or the national maximum payable at private and foreign institutions. To be eligible, the student must be: a Veteran receiving benefits at the 100% benefit rate payable, a transfer-of-entitlement-eligible dependent child, or a transfer-of-entitlement eligible spouse of a Veteran.
The school of attendance must have accepted VA's invitation to participate in the program, state how much student tuition will be waived (up to 50%) and how many participants will be accepted into the program during the current academic year. VA will match the school's percentage (up to 50%) to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs for eligible participants.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship: This scholarship entitles children of those who die in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, to use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011
The Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 amended the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The provisions of the bill are applicable to training pursued under the Post-9/11 GI Bill that began on or after Aug. 1, 2011.
he legislation authorizes VA to pay more than the national maximum set for private schools (currently $17,500 or the appropriately reduced amount based on eligibility percentage) in tuition and fees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for certain students attending private colleges and universities in seven states - Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
To qualify for the increased payment (also referred to as the "grandfathered" tuition and fee amount), students must have been enrolled in the same college or university since Jan. 4, 2011, and have been enrolled in a program for which the combined amount of tuition and fees for full-time attendance during the 2010-2011 academic year exceeded $17,500.
VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011
Included in this new law is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for unemployed Veterans. VA and the Department of Labor (DoL) are working together to roll out this new program on July 1, 2012. The program will provide retraining for Veterans hardest hit by current economic conditions.
VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans. To qualify, a Veteran must:
The program is limited to 45,000 participants during fiscal year 2012, and to 54,000 participants from Oct. 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). Applications will be submitted through DoL and benefits paid by VA. DoL will provide employment assistance to every Veteran who participates upon completion of their program.
Participants must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or a certification, and train the Veteran for a high-demand occupation.
More details will be available at www.gibill.va.gov and on VA's Facebook, which are updated regularly.
Educational and Vocational Counseling Services: Refer to Chapter 10, "Transition Assistance," for detailed information on available services.
Eligibility: VA educational benefits may be used while the Servicemember is on active duty or after the Servicemember's separation from active duty with a fully honorable military discharge. Discharges "under honorable conditions" and "general" discharges do not establish eligibility.
Eligibility generally expires 10 years after the Servicemember's discharge. However, there are exceptions for disability, re-entering active duty, and upgraded discharges.
All participants must have a high school diploma, equivalency certificate, or have completed 12 hours toward a college degree before applying for benefits.
Previously, Servicemembers had to meet the high school requirement before they completed their initial active duty obligation. Those who did not may now meet the requirement and reapply for benefits. If eligible, they must use their benefits within 10 years from the date of last discharge from active duty.
Additionally, every Veteran must establish eligibility under one of four categories.
Category 1: Service after June 30, 1985
For Veterans who entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, did not decline MGIB in writing, and had their military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months. Servicemembers can apply after completing two continuous years of service. Veterans must have completed three continuous years of active duty, or two continuous years of active duty if they first signed up for less than three years or have an obligation to serve four years in the Selected Reserve (the 2x4 program) and enter the Selected Reserve within one year of discharge.
Servicemembers or Veterans who received a commission as a result of graduation from a service academy or completion of an ROTC scholarship are not eligible under Category 1 unless they received their commission:
Servicemembers or Veterans who declined MGIB because they received repayment from the military for education loans are also ineligible under Category 1. If they did not decline MGIB and received loan repayments, the months served to repay the loans will be deducted from their entitlement.
Early Separation from Military Service: Servicemembers who did not complete the required period of military service may be eligible under
Category 1: If discharged for one of the following:
Category 2: Vietnam Era GI Bill Conversion
For Veterans who had remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill on Dec. 31, 1989, and served on active duty for any number of days during the period Oct. 19, 1984, to June 30, 1985, for at least three continuous years beginning on July 1, 1985; or at least two continuous years of active duty beginning on July 1, 1985, followed by four years in the Selected Reserve beginning within one year of release from active duty.
Veterans not on active duty on Oct. 19, 1984, may be eligible under Category 2 if they served three continuous years on active duty beginning on or after July 1, 1985, or two continuous years of active duty at any time followed by four continuous years in the Selected Reserve beginning within one year of release from active duty.
Veterans are barred from eligibility under Category 2 if they received a commission after Dec. 31, 1976, as a result of graduation from a service academy or completion of an ROTC scholarship.
However, such a commission is not disqualifying if they received the commission after becoming eligible for MGIB benefits, or received the commission after Sept. 30, 1996, and received less than $3,400 during any one year under ROTC scholarship.
Category 3: Involuntary Separation/Special Separation
For Veterans who meet one of the following requirements:
Category 4: Veterans Educational Assistance Program
For Veterans who participated in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) and:
Veterans who participated in VEAP on or before Oct. 9, 1996, may also be eligible even if they did not deposit money in a VEAP account if they served on active duty from Oct. 9, 1996, through April 1, 2000, elected MGIB by Oct. 31, 2001, and contributed $2,700 to MGIB.
Certain National Guard servicemembers may also qualify under Category 4 if they:
Payments: Effective Oct. 1, 2011, the rate for full-time training in college, technical or vocational school is $1,473 a month for those who served three years or more or two years plus four years in the Selected Reserve. For those who served less than three years, the monthly rate is $1,196.
Benefits are reduced for part-time training. Payments for other types of training follow different rules. VA will pay an additional amount, called a "kicker" or "college fund," if directed by DOD. Visit www.gibill.va.gov for more information. The maximum number of months Veterans can receive payments is 36 months at the full-time rate or the part-time equivalent.
The following groups qualify for the maximum: Veterans who served the required length of active duty, Veterans with an obligation of three years or more who were separated early for the convenience of the government and served 30 continuous months, and Veterans with an obligation of less than three years who were separated early for the convenience of the government and served 20 continuous months.
Types of Training Available:
Accelerated payments for certain high-cost programs are authorized.
Work-Study Program: Participants who train at the three-quarter or full-time rate may be eligible for a work-study program in which they work for VA and receive hourly wages. Students under the work-study program must be supervised by a VA employee, and all duties performed must relate to VA.
The types of work allowed include:
Working in Veterans-related position at schools or other training facilities. Providing hospital or domiciliary care at a state home.
Working at national or state Veterans' cemeteries.
Various jobs within any VA facility.
Providing assistance in obtaining a benefit under title 38 U.S.C. at a state Veterans agency.
Assisting in the administration of chapters 1606 or 1607 of title 10 U.S.C. at a Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or National Guard facility.
Working in a Center for Excellence for Veterans Student Success.
Educational and Vocational Counseling Services: Refer to Chapter 10, "Transition Assistance", for detailed information on available services.
Veterans' Educational Assistance Program
Eligibility: Active duty personnel could participate in the Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) if they entered active duty for the first time after Dec. 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985, and made a contribution prior to April 1, 1987.
The maximum contribution is $2,700. Active duty participants may make a lump-sum contribution to their VEAP account. For more information, visit www.gibill.va.gov.
Servicemembers who participated in VEAP are eligible to receive benefits while on active duty if:
Servicemembers must receive a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable for the qualifying period of service. Servicemembers who enlisted for the first time after Sept. 7, 1980, or entered active duty as an officer or enlistee after Oct. 16, 1981, must have completed 24 continuous months of active duty, unless they meet a qualifying exception.
Eligibility generally expires 10 years from release from active duty, but can be extended under special circumstances.
Payments: DoD will match contributions at the rate of $2 for every $1 put into the fund and may make additional contributions, or "kickers," as necessary. For training in college, vocational or technical schools, the payment amount depends on the type and hours of training pursued. The maximum amount is $300 a month for full-time training.
Training, Work-Study, Counseling: VEAP participants may receive the same training, work-study benefits and counseling as provided under the MGIB with the exception of preparatory courses.