An Introduction to the GI Bill
Of all veterans' education benefits, the GI Bill is the best known. Under the GI Bill program, Army veterans can receive money for college tuition, which can be used at many different educational programs around the country.
The Old and New GI Bills
The Montgomery GI Bill (also known as the MGIB, the old GI Bill, or Chapter 30) was the primary program providing education benefits for veterans for decades. Under the MGIB, soldiers signed up for the GI Bill during enlistment and paid $1,200 during their first year of service. The MGIB has both an active duty and a selected reserve version, each with different requirements and benefits.
In August 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill (also known as the new GI Bill or Chapter 33) came into effect. The new GI Bill is different from the old one in many ways. Notably:
- You don't need to sign up for or pay into this program. All members of the Army who have served at least 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001 (not including active duty for training purposes) are eligible.
- Both enlisted personnel and officers are eligible for the new GI Bill.
- Reserve and National Guard personnel can also qualify, based on the total time they spent mobilized or deployed.
Veteran Education Benefits Under the Two GI Bills
The benefits of the two programs differ greatly. The old GI Bill pays a set amount of money each month directly to the veteran, for up to ten years after a veteran's last discharge or separation.
The new GI Bill, however, may pay up to 100 percent of your tuition directly to your college or university--including online education programs. If you have served less than 36 months, you may only be eligible to receive a percentage of the benefit. At public schools, the new GI Bill covers the in-state student tuition rate and eligible fees. Students attending out-of-state schools are responsible for the difference between the in-state rate and out-of-state costs. At private and foreign schools, the new GI Bill pays up to $17,500 in tuition and fees. Soldiers remain eligible for the new GI Bill for fifteen years after their last period of active duty.
Transfer of Veteran Education Benefits to Dependents
The new GI Bill has introduced a new benefit long sought after by veterans: the ability to transfer some or all of your education benefits to a child or spouse. In order to be eligible to apply for a transfer of education benefits, you must:
- Have served at least six years in the military and agree to serve at least four more
- Have at least ten years of service and are near retirement or prevented by regulation from serving an additional four years, in which case you may be able to serve a shorter additional term
Additionally, you must register to transfer some or all of your GI Bill benefits to dependents while on active duty, not after you've left the Army.
Who Is Eligible for the GI Bill?
In order to be eligible for veterans education benefits under either GI Bill, you must have served a certain period of time--with the amount of time depending on the version you'd like to use. Both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill require 36 months of service for full benefits. Additionally, you must either still be in the service or have received an honorable discharge. Some medical separations also allow you to retain your benefits.
To remain eligible for benefits after beginning to receive them, you must access the GI Bill WAVE page on the Veterans Affairs Website and verify that you are still enrolled in courses.