How to get the most from the GI Bill

The GI Bill and other benefits can help cover veterans’ education costs, but it takes some planning to make sure you secure the benefits that are best for you. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

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Have a plan

Ask yourself:

What type of career do you want and what type of education do you need to prepare?

How long do you expect it to take?

How much would the education cost without benefits?

This will allow you to figure out which benefits best suit your needs.

Know the limits

GI Bill benefits are often linked to:

How long you served

When you served

Whether you attend school full- or part-time

You may not qualify for 100% of all benefits. Keep this in mind when determining your plan.

Choose your education

VA benefits can be applied to many different types of education:

Private or public higher education

Vocational training

Flight school

Correspondence programs

Certificates

Explore the programs

Post-9/11 GI Bill

Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)

Montgomery GI Bill

Reserve Educational Assistance Program

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

You may be eligible for more than one benefit, and different benefits may be better suited to your particular educational goal. It may also be possible to combine benefits, but it’s important to be careful with this option: Sometimes electing one benefit will forfeit your ability to use another.

Consider your timeline

SEPARATION

Montgomery GI Bill

10 years

Post-9/11 GI Bill

15 years*

YEARS AFTER SEPARATION

You have up to 15 years after you separate to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty is valid for up to 10 years post-service. Each benefit can generally be used to cover 36 months, or about four years’ worth, of education. If you plan to be in school longer, you may be able to combine benefits to cover it.

*15-year eligibility is from the last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.

Get more information

Navigating the GI Bills and other education benefits can be daunting, and different states have different rules.

Every case is different—the education benefits your friend used may not be the best option for you. The VA offers helpful comparison tools, and advisors can walk you through your choices.

Beyond the VA

There are a number of grants, scholarships and other programs meant specifically to help veterans and their families. A simple internet search can help you find scholarships for disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, those who plan to become teachers, and many more.

How it might work

Meet Miguel

Served 24 months of active duty, from 2012 to 2014

Wants to become an electrician

Decided on a two-year community college in suburban New York

What he might get*

From the Post-9/11 GI Bill

$24,298/year in tuition (paid to school)

$21,158/month to live on (paid to him)

$1,000 for books and supplies (paid to him)

From the Montgomery GI Bill

$1,395/month or $12,555 overall

Must have bought into it during service

*IAVA/NewGIBill.org

Close Disclaimer
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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