Can I Use My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits to Get a Cessna Business Jet Rating?
Q: Regarding Flight Training. I am trying to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to obtain a Type Rating in a Cessna Citation business jet. So far, I have been unsuccessful. Although everything I read says Flight Training is part of the GI Bill, when I tried to use it, I was told Flight Training is not part of the GI Bill until after October 1st, 2011 (FY12). Additionally, I would not receive 70% tuition, as I was told I had earned, instead I would receive one semester’s tuition at a state university for the state where the training was conducted, or $10,000, whichever was less. So, if I was taking flight training in Ohio, and a semester’s tuition was $2,500, that is all I would receive, even though the type rating costs $28,500. Not exactly a great program for a professional pilot pursuing further education. Am I wrong?
A: According to the information I’m reading, that interpretation isn’t quite correct. The VA website says after October 1st, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will “pay actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $10,000, whichever is less.” So you have the $10,000 part right, but the one semester part is wrong – you get paid for what your school charges a resident student per academic year, not for one semester. Also, many of the flight costs are not in the tuition costs, but could be covered in the fees portion.
If your program costs $28,500 and your tuition is $5,000, the rest of the costs are most likely fees. In your case, you will max out at the $10,000 per year limit with just the tuition from two semesters. The other $18,500 you would be responsible for paying.
Generally speaking, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers flight training now, as long as you already have your private pilot’s license and take your training at a school also teaching degree-producing programs. But, the pay structure is different than other types of training in that the VA will only pay up to 60% of tuition and fee costs. If you take a four-year aviation degree program, the course is covered just like any other four-year program.
The VA is very specific when it comes to flight training as many veterans want to take it as an avocation (recreational flying) instead of as a vocation(career as a pilot). Of course the real purpose of the GI Bill is to train a veteran for a career.