Skip to Content

Compare VA education benefits

Compare VA education benefits for Veterans, service members, and members of the National Guard and Reserve. Check the eligibility requirements for each education program. And find out how many months of benefits you can get and how much time you have to use those benefits.

How your character of discharge affects your eligibility

You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for these programs: 

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
  • Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

You must have received a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable to be eligible for Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits.

Note: If you’re not eligible for VA education benefits based on your character of discharge, you can apply for a discharge upgrade.

Find out how to apply for a discharge upgrade

Service requirements

For Post-9/11 GI Bill

You must have started your service on or after September 11, 2001. 

And one of these must be true: 

  • You served for at least 90 days total on active duty, or
  • You served for at least 30 days on active duty, without a break, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability, or
  • You received a Purple Heart

For MGIB-AD

The required service start date depends on certain factors, like when you served on active duty and whether your military pay decreased. 

You must have served between 2 and 4 years. The minimum amount of time you must have served depends on other factors. 

Check the full eligibility requirements for MGIB-AD

For MGIB-SR

You agreed to serve for a period after June 30, 1985 (or for some types of training, after September 30, 1990).

And one of these must be true:

  • You agreed to serve 6 years in the Selected Reserve, or
  • You’re an officer in the Selected Reserve and you agreed to serve 6 years in addition to your initial service obligation

For VR&E 

There are no requirements for when or how long you served.

Check other eligibility requirements for VR&E

How many months of benefits you can get

If you’re eligible for VR&E

You may be eligible to get up to 48 months of VR&E benefits. 

In certain situations, a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) may approve more than 48 months of VR&E benefits. 

If you’re eligible for both VR&E and another education benefit, you may be able to get more benefits by using VR&E first.

If you use VR&E benefits first, we won’t deduct entitlement from your other VA education benefits, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill. 

If you’ve used benefits under any other VA education program and then you use VR&E benefits, we’ll have to deduct from your remaining VR&E entitlement the amount of time used under the other VA education program. 

If you’re eligible for GI Bill benefits

You may be eligible to get up to 36 months of benefits from 1 of these education programs:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • MGIB-AD
  • MGIB-SR

You can use only 1 of these education benefits for a single period of service. Once you choose a benefit, you can’t switch to a different benefit for the same period of service.

Note: In certain situations, you may be eligible for more than 1 education benefit. But you can only get a maximum of 48 months of combined education benefits. If you need help figuring out how many months of benefits you can get, contact us through Ask VA.

Contact us online through Ask VA

How much time you have to use benefits

For Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • If your last day on active duty was on or after January 1, 2013, you can use your benefits at any time. Your benefits won’t expire.
  • If your last day on active duty was before January 1, 2013, you have 15 years from your last day on active duty to use your benefits.

For MGIB-AD

You have 10 years from your last day on active duty to use your benefits. 

For MGIB-SR

You can use your benefits only while you’re serving in the Selected Reserve. Once you leave the Selected Reserve, you’re no longer eligible for education benefits under the MGIB-SR program.

For VR&E

If you were discharged from active duty on or after January 1, 2013, there’s no time limit on when you can use your benefits.

If you were discharged from active duty before January 1, 2013, you have 12 years from 1 of these dates, whichever comes later, to use your benefits:

  • The date you received notice of your date of separation from active duty, or
  • The date you received your first VA service-connected disability rating

You may have more time to use your benefits if we find that you have a serious employment handicap (SEH).

Learn more about the eligibility period for VR&E

Payments

You can use our GI Bill Comparison tool to compare payment rates by school.
Go to the GI Bill Comparison tool

Keep reading to learn about how each VA education benefit program makes payments.

Post-9/11 GI Bill payments

Tuition and fees: We’ll send payments to your school.

Housing allowance: We’ll pay you directly every month.

Books and supplies stipend: We’ll pay you at the start of the enrollment period.

Additional payments: If you’re eligible and your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, you may be able to get additional payments.

Learn about the Yellow Ribbon Program

Or, if you’re approved for federal Tuition Assistance through the Defense Department, you may be eligible for Tuition Assistance Top-Up to help you cover your tuition costs.

Learn about Tuition Assistance Top-Up

Check the current payment rates for the Post-9/11 GI Bill

MGIB-AD payments

We’ll pay you directly every month.

Additional payments: If you’re eligible for the $600 Buy-Up program, you may be able to get additional payments.

Learn about the $600 Buy-Up program

Or, if you’re approved for federal Tuition Assistance through the Defense Department, you may be eligible for Tuition Assistance Top-Up to help you cover your tuition costs.

Learn about Tuition Assistance Top-Up

Check the current payment rates for MGIB-AD

MGIB-SR payments

We’ll pay you directly every month.

Additional payments: If you’re eligible for the $600 Buy-Up program, you may be able to get additional payments.

Learn about the $600 Buy-Up program

Check the current payment rates for MGIB-SR

VR&E payments

Tuition and fees: We’ll send payments to your school.

Subsistence allowance: We’ll pay you directly every month.

Check the current subsistence allowance rates for VR&E

Or, if you’re eligible, you may be able to get the Post-9/11 GI Bill subsistence rate instead. In most cases, the GI Bill rate is higher.

Find out if you’re eligible to get the Post-9/11 GI Bill subsistence rate

Books and supplies stipend: We’ll pay for all of your required books and supplies. 

How to contact us if you have questions

We can help you decide which education benefits to use. You can ask us a question online through Ask VA.

Contact us online through Ask VA

Or call us at 888-442-4551 (TTY: 711). If you live overseas, call us at +1-918-781-5678. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.

VA benefits

  • Education and training

    Apply for and manage your GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for college and training programs.

Need more help?