The United States has a long history of taking care of military veterans after they leave active duty. One of the most recent example of this commitment to veterans is called the Post 9/11 GI BIll. This bill provides benefits to everyone who served for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001. The longer you served, the more benefits you get. The goal of this bill is to explain what these benefits are, how to use them, and how much they could be worth.
Simply put, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers 100% of the cost of state schools. In addition to the tuition payments, veterans may be eligible for a housing allowance of up to $3,200 per month and this money is paid directly to the student. This means that not only will the government pay for you to go to school, but they will also pay you up to $38,000 per year just for going to school. This is equal to working a full time job that pays $20 per hour. The total amount of benefits including tuition, housing, and book stipend can be worth up to $55,000 per year.
There are currently 800,00 veterans enrolled in college that are using this program, this means that the government pays out over $11 billion dollars each year for their education and living expenses. Between the years 2011 and 2015, there was a 42% rise in the amount of veterans attending school under this program.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill does not only apply to the cost of school in the United States, but veterans can also use this money to attend a school in a different country. The amount of money the government will pay for a foreign school is the same that they will pay for a private school in the United States
The most important part of the Post 9/11 GI BIll are the tuition payments. These payments go directly from the government to the school, so the veterans do not have to worry about receiving the payments and paying the schools themselves. All veterans are charged the in-state tuition rates for state schools no matter where they live do a law passed in 2014. This means that people using the Post 9/11 GI Bill will have 100% of their tuition covered if they are going to a state school.
Veterans may decide they want to go to a public school. In this case, the government will provide $21,084.89 per year towards tuition. However, for some private schools that amount may not cover the full amount of tuition. In this case, there are programs to cover the rest of the amount.
The Yellow Ribbon Program
The maximum amount of money that the government will pay for a school is $21,084.89. Although this amount will 100% cover a state school, it will likely not cover the cost of a private college. To account for this, there is a provision in the Post 9/11 GI bill called The Yellow Ribbon Program or YRP. YRP is a program that private colleges can participate in in order to cover the extra cost of these more expensive schools. It works like this: let’s say the school you want to go to costs $40,000 per year. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will cover about $21,000 of that, but this still leaves $19,000 which must be paid for. If this school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program than they will contribute another $9,500 towards your tuition, which will be matched by the VA, thus covering the full $40,000 cost.
It is usually pretty easy to find out whether a private school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, and many private schools do participate in this program as veterans are a very highly sought after group of students. This information is usually listed on a school’s website, but you could also call the school and ask for the veterans’ services officer and find out from them.
Monthly Housing Allowance
The drafters of the Post 9/11 GI Bill knew that tuition payments alone were not enough to put most people through college. This is why in addition to tuition payments, veterans also get a housing allowance to pay for expenses such as housing or food. Although this is called a housing allowance, it is really up to the veteran when it comes to what to spend the money on.
This housing allowance is sometimes referred to as the MHA and is paid to qualifying students monthly while they are attending classes.
The housing allowance is based on a number of factors, such as where you are going to be going to school, if you have dependents (kids/wife/husband), what your pay grade was, and if you are attending school full time or not. The base amount paid out is the same as you would get as an E-5 with dependents in the area which you are going to school. Some areas offer higher rates than others because of varying cost of living expenses, but the maximum is $3,200 and the national average is $1,200 per month.
If you are taking half of what is considered to be a full class load, you will not be eligible for this payment. If you are attending a school where all of the classes are online, then this payment is a flat rate $840.50 per month.
This website has a calculator where you are able to see what your monthly housing allowance will be.
The Book Stipend
College books and supplies can be expensive. The Post 9/11 BIll takes are of this by providing a books and supply stipend of up to $1,000 per year. This amount is based off the number of credits you are taking, and the rate is $41.62 per credit. This money is paid out at the beginning of an academic term and is paid directly to the veteran.
Test Fee Reimbursement
The government will reimburse students for the cost of taking certain standardized tests. This can be used for various licensing tests such as a plumber or cosmetologist license, or testing such as the SAT or ACT. The full list of tests and some more information on the program can be found here.
Transferring Your Benefits
The Post 9/11 GI Bill does allow servicemen and women to transfer their benefits to their spouse or child under certain circumstances. This means that a service member may choose to give all of their educational benefits to a spouse or child and not use them for themselves. There are some conditions here though, such as:
- When you decide you are going to transfer your benefits you MUST still be on active duty.
- Before you can transfer your benefits you must already have been on active duty for 6 years, and upon transferring your benefits you must agree to serve 4 additional years. If you have already served 10 years, you may transfer your benefits without serving the 4 additional years that are otherwise required. Reserve time may be able to count towards this 10 year total.
If you transfer your benefits to a spouse, they will be able immediately start using the benefits. If you transfer them to your child there are a few more conditions they must meet before they can start using them, such as they must be 18 and already have a high school diploma. More information on transferring benefits can be found here.
Generally speaking, if you served at least 36 months in the armed service you will receive 100% of your benefit. If however you did not serve a full 36 months, you are still eligible for a portion of your benefits based on the amount of time that you did serve:
|Time Served||Percentage of Benefits|
|At least 36 months||100%|
|At least 30 months, but discharged due to a disability connected with your service||100%|
|90 days to 6 months||40%|