How to Cover Tuition Costs With the Post-9/11 GI Bill
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The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an educational benefits program that provides up to 36 months of tuition and other financial assistance to eligible military service members and veterans. GI Bill benefits can also be transferred to eligible immediate family members.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act into law, expanding the GI Bill program and making it readily available to more service members. How much tuition the GI Bill covers depends on how long you served.
Here’s what you need to know about the GI Bill:
How much tuition does the GI Bill cover?
The amount of GI Bill education benefits you can receive depends on several factors:
- The school you attend
- The amount of active duty you served since Sept. 10, 2001
- The number of credits or training hours you’re taking
Qualified service members can save considerable money by taking advantage of available GI Bill benefits instead of taking out student loans.
The GI Bill covers tuition and fees at the in-state rate for public colleges and universities. Coverage for the 2022-23 academic year is limited to a maximum of $26,381.37 per academic year for private schools or other education or training institutions. It also covers a portion of housing expenses for qualified students.
|Service time||Benefit percentage|
|At least 90 days, but less than six months||50%|
|Less than 90 days||0%|
If you have 36 months or more of eligible service, the amount of education assistance you’ll receive depends on where you attend school. Check out the current annual tuition payouts for the following schools for an idea of what to expect:
- Community College Of Denver: $4,788
- Florida Atlantic University: $4,879
- Tennessee College Of Applied Technology-Mcminnville: $5,248
- San Francisco State University: $7,006
- Ohio State University: $11,518
- Texas Tech University: $11,600
- New York University: $25,162
- University Of Richmond: $25,162
The above figures don’t include housing or other living expenses that each school may cover. GI Bill benefits include money for tuition, school fees, housing, and books and supplies.
Even if you don’t receive full tuition coverage through the GI Bill program, you can find other ways to pay for college.
Eligibility requirements for the Post-9/11 GI Bill
Service members and veterans must meet specific requirements to qualify for GI Bill benefits. To qualify, you must have met at least one of the following requirements:
- You served at least 90 days on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
- You received a Purple Heart on or after Sep. 11, 2001, and you were honorably discharged after any amount of service.
- You served for at least 30 continuous days on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and you were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability.
- You’re a dependent child using benefits transferred by a qualifying veteran or service member.
How to apply for the GI Bill
You can apply for GI Bill benefits online through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Have the following information on hand to help streamline the application process:
- Social Security number
- Bank account and routing numbers
- Education history
- Military history
- School or training facility information
You can also apply for education benefits by mail, in person at a regional VA office, or with the help of an accredited representative. You can call 888-442-4551, Monday through Friday — from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time — to request a paper application.
Applications typically take 30 days to process and receive a decision. The VA may request additional documentation, which you can upload and submit through Ask VA.
Can I transfer my GI Bill benefit to my child?
The Department of Veterans Affairs allows eligible service members to transfer their GI Bill benefits to immediate family members, including their children. To be eligible to transfer your benefits, you must:
- Complete at least six years of service (active duty or Selected Reserve)
- Commit to an additional four years of service
- Currently be an active member of the military
You must be on active duty to submit a transfer request or receive transfer approval. Benefits transferred to a child can only be used after the service member completes 10 years of service. Benefits must be used before the child turns 26.
Can I transfer my GI Bill to my spouse?
Similarly, GI benefits can also be transferred to a spouse. Service member requirements remain the same as when transferring to a child. Eligible spouses can use the benefits immediately or up to 15 years after the service member separates from active duty.
Do GI Bill benefits expire?
GI Bill benefits can expire in some cases. The expiration date depends on when a service member was discharged from active duty.
- Discharged before Jan. 1, 2013: Benefits expire 15 years after your last separation date from active service.
- Discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013: The Forever GI Bill – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, signed into law on Aug. 16, 2017, extends GI Bill benefits indefinitely with no expiration date.
What if my GI Bill benefits don’t cover all my college costs?
As an active-duty service member or a veteran, you may be eligible for a variety of scholarships and grants. It’s worth spending some time researching scholarships for veterans to see if you can qualify for educational aid you don’t have to repay.
If you still need money for college and are thinking of borrowing, look to federal student loans first. They come with a variety of advantages, including income-driven repayment plans and access to student loan forgiveness programs. If free aid and federal loans still fall short of your needs, you can consider a private student loan.
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