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Can I Use My Post 9/11 GI Bill to Pay for an Accelerated Nursing Program?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. I just retired from the Air Force with over 22 years of service so I am fully eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My question concerns tuition reimbursement. I would like to attend an accelerated nursing program. The school terms are very busy and one has a load of 25 credit hours. The other terms are 20 and 21 hours to complete the degree. I appears tuition at a state school for this program (in Colorado) will be just under $22K for three semesters (one year). Will the GI Bill cover this? Thanks!

A: It would cover your training, but not at an accelerated rate. In other words, you would get the same as anyone else full-time attending that same school. For state-supported schools, the VA would pay up to the resident undergraduate rate. So regardless of your tuition cost, the most they would pay is resident undergraduate.

However, one thing to check into is if your school has a Yellow Ribbon Program agreement with the VA. If so, ask if your nursing program is included in their agreement. If it is, then both your school and the VA could help pay the difference between what the VA pays and what your school charges for tuition.

How it works is the VA pays your school at the authorized rate. Your school then waivers or “forgives” up to 50% of the difference with the VA paying an equal amount. So in theory, the difference could result in $0.00 meaning you would not have any out-of-pocket expenses.

However, if your school has a lower percentage in their agreement, then you might have some left to pay. Anyway, it is worth asking.
If they are not a Yellow Ribbon school, then you would be responsible to pay the difference.

To actually get the true accelerated rate (where you are using entitlement based on the number of monthly payments packets the VA is paying out each month) you have to be using one of the following GI Bills:
• Chapter 30
• Chapter 1606 or
• Chapter 1607.

For example, if you were using Chapter 30, which is the Montgomery GI Bill, then you would use up a month of entitlement for each $1,564 paid out. So for your 12-month program that costs $22,000, you would use up 14 $1,564 packets resulting in 14 months of benefits used for your 12-month program. But because the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not use a fixed monthly rate system, there isn’t a way to accelerate entitlement use.

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