Serving Smart: Nitty-Gritty of VA Education Benefits

A 1999 Postal Service stamp commemorates the creation of the GI Bill of Rights in 1944. Photo courtesy U.S. Postal Service

A 1999 Postal Service stamp commemorates the creation of the GI Bill of Rights in 1944. Photo courtesy U.S. Postal Service

By Kevin O’Brien, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

We came, we blogged, we educated. Julius Caesar would have been so proud!

Let’s do a recap!

Last week, we officially launched our new education blog series, “Serving Smart”. We got down in the weeds and informed you about the fundamentals of federal financial aid. And just in case you missed it… Hakuna Matata! You can catch up on what we had to say about “Financial Aid Basics”, anytime.

Today however, we will reacquaint you with VA educational opportunities. And let me just say, membership has its privileges! But, before I get started, I just wanted to give y’all a quick history lesson about how it all began.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…no, not really.

It was 70 years ago on June 22, 1944, Commander-in-Chief Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act,  most commonly known as the GI Bill. World War II was being fought by millions of brave men and women, and to avoid mass unemployment of veterans leaving active duty and a postwar depression, our elected officials agreed something must be done to help assist Veterans reintegration into civilian life. BLAH! Why I am telling this? Why not let FDR tell you himself. Here’s a little snippet straight from the horse’s mouth.

Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

“This bill, which I have signed today…It gives servicemen and women the opportunity of resuming their education or technical training after discharge, or of taking a refresher or retrainer course, not only without tuition charge up to $500 per school year, but with the right to receive a monthly living allowance while pursuing their studies.”  — Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

There’s quite a bit more to this Bill I will not discuss today, but if you care to know more you should read about it. I’ll give you a hint: Buying a home.

So, what were the results? Well, by 1947, Veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions and by 1956, nearly half of the 16 million World War II veterans had taken advantage of some training or education program. How about them apples?  Results!

Over time, changes were made (1984’s Montgomery GI Bill and today’s Post 9/11 GI Bill) to ensure military veterans would continue to be rewarded for their service. To this day, education programs for veterans continue to work.

Ok, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of VA education benefits.  You’ve earned this, so go and get it!

Chapter 30 or otherwise known as the Montgomery GI Bill (Service members only) may be used for the following:

  • College degree and certificate programs
  • Technical or vocational courses
  • Flight training
  • Apprenticeships or on-the-job training
  • High-tech training
  • Licensing and certification tests
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Certain entrance examinations
  • Correspondence courses.

The following assistance is approved under the Post-9/11 GI Bill:

  • Accelerated payments
  • Correspondence training
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Flight training
  • Independent and distance learning
  • Institutions of higher learning undergraduate and graduate degrees
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • Vocational/technical training, non-college degree programs
  • National testing reimbursement
  • On-the-job training
  • Tuition Assistance top-up
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Vocational/technical training


The Post 9/11 GI Bill also covers 100% (in-state) tuition and fees, provides an annual stipend of up to $1000 for books and supplies AND you can get BAH (Basic Housing Allowance) at E-5 with dependent rate .  It’s almost like you’re getting paid to go to school!

Are you excited? Wait, there’s more!

You can even transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill to your dependents! How awesome is that?! There’s a few eligibility requirements that you need to familiarize yourself with as well, such as time in service and fulfillment of service obligations.

And last, but certainly not least, there is the often forgotten Yellow Ribbon Program. If you’re planning on enrolling in an out-of-state college or private university, institutions may elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. These institutions voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund tuition and fee costs that exceed the cap at non-public schools and out-of-state charges. VA matches each additional dollar that an institution contributes, up to total cost of tuition and fees.

***Remember, you can still receive federal student aid depending on your respective military service’s policies. Why stress about the cost of higher education when the money is there for the taking. You sacrificed so much! Take advantage of these amazing education benefits you so deserve and earned.


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