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If I Don’t Recieve My DD 214 Until Late July, Can I Still Start School in August?

Q: Hi, my name is Victoria and I’m in the Marine Corps stationed in Miramar, California and I’m wishing to move to Nebraska where my fianc├® lives. I’m so entirely lost on how to even start applying for schools and using my GI Bill. I don’t receive my DD-214 until July 28, 2012, but I would like to be enrolled in school by fall semester to start attending class right away. I’ve been reading that I need to send in my DD-214 with my school application to the VA office and then I have to wait 6-8 weeks before I get my certification back. Does this mean that I won’t be able to attend school in the fall? And if so, how do I get started?

A: Don’t feel bad Victoria about being confused about your GI Bill benefits. It is very confusing as each GI Bill has a different set of rules. You didn’t say if you had the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill, but regardless, the process to start using your GI Bill benefit is the same.

Generally speaking if you have the time, you would use the process you described above, but because you will be pressed for time, I’m going to suggest you use a different route. Each GI Bill-approved school has a VA Certifying Official. This person’s function is to help you get started using your GI Bill or to help you if you run into any issues while using your GI Bill. That person can also certify that you are eligible to use your GI Bill right on the spot.

So when you go to enroll in school, bring your DD-214 with you and see your Certifying Official. With that person’s certification, it will allow you to enroll as a GI Bill student even though you won’t yet have your Certificate or Eligibility. You will still have to submit VA Form 22-1990 to get your certificate, but you will receive that document after the fact and you can hand in a copy to your school at that time. Using this process, you can start school on time.

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