An Introduction to Army Veterans' Education Benefits
Today, there are numerous education benefits programs available for veterans, their spouses, and dependents. Here is a step-by-step guide to education benefits for Army veterans and their families.
Since its creation, the GI Bill has been the cornerstone educational benefit for veterans and their families. Today, it exists in several forms including the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
If you served at least 36 months on active duty, and paid the $1,200 contribution, you can get paid up to $1,368 per month, for up to 36 months, to go to school. The MGIB-AD entitlement has an expiration date that many veterans tend to overlook--you must use the benefit within 10 years from the date of your discharge. If not, you lose your VA education benefits along with the $1,200 you paid into the program.
You can use your MGIB-AD education benefit for:
- college, business, technical or vocational courses
- correspondence courses
- certification tests
- on-the-job training
- flight training
Post 9/11 GI Bill
The newest member of the GI Bill family began on August 1, 2009. You may qualify for minimum VA education benefits with as little as 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. Three years of service gets you the full benefit. The new Bill contains several features never found in any previous GI Bill:
- tiered level of payment dependent on the amount of service
- paid tuition and fees
- a monthly housing allowance
- a book stipend
- the Yellow Ribbon Program
- a relocation allowance
- a transfer of benefits option
The New GI Bill doesn't pay for as many different training programs as does the MGIB--it covers:
- degree-producing college courses--resident and online education
- non-degree programs offered by institutions of higher learning
- licensing and certification tests
Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)
To qualify for this program, you had to enter active duty between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985. Additionally, you would have had to open a contribution account before April 1, 1987. If you meet these qualifications and contribute to VEAP, the government matches your contribution at the rate of $2 for every $1 you contribute. You get one month of benefit for each month of contribution and once you're out, you have 10 years to use your education benefit. After 10 years, the unused contribution is automatically returned to you, whether or not you use it.
You can use VEAP for:
- degree programs
- certificates and licenses
- correspondence courses
- apprenticeship/on-the-job training programs
- and vocational flight training programs
State Veteran Education Benefits
In addition to the GI Bill and VEAP program, Army veterans can turn to their individual States for assistance. All 50 States and three territories have many different programs available to their veterans, their spouses, and dependent children. From high school diplomas for WWII and Korean veterans, to scholarships for Vietnam veterans, to reduced or free tuition, and scholarships for the children of disabled or deceased veterans of today's wars, there is almost something for everyone regardless of when you served.
Check your State's Veterans Affairs website to determine which of the benefits you, your spouse or dependent children can use. States created these benefits as a way of showing their appreciation for your Army service. Graciously accept by using them.
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