Veterans education benefits & the G.I. Bill
As service members leave the military, many of them are re-entering the civilian world directly into America’s colleges, universities and other high education programs. Others are taking a year or two off with the intention of going to school after a sabbatical.
Regardless of plans, don’t put off paperwork until the last second.
“You need to have a solid plan in place,” said U.S. Navy veteran Ryan Dawes.
“The biggest thing for most of us was figuring out what school we wanted to attend and then the requirements for that schools,” added Zachery Beatty. “Once I picked a school, I worked with its veterans liaison and she did a good job of getting me through their system.”
It’s best to start about 90 days prior to one’s first semester and have a few alternatives in place in case plans fall through.
“Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to go back to school,” Dawes said. “From what I’ve seen with other veterans, the longer you wait and the older you get, the less likely you are to use your benefits.”
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE NEW G.I. BILL
Post-9/11 GI Bill: If you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and you are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program.
To apply for the program, visit http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp. Set aside a few hours to complete the application process and have a copy of your DD-214 (discharge papers) on hand.
If you have eligibility for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and any other GI Bill program you must make an irrevocable election of the Post-9/11 GI Bill before you can receive any benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has a few specific components that are unavailable in other GI Bill programs:
For more information, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp.
TYPES OF TRAINING APPROVED UNDER THE POST-9/11 GI BILL:
• 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 bill can also be used for post-graduate courses.
BENEFITS & ELIGIBILITY
For approved programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits, generally payable for 15 years following your release from active duty. Institutions of higher learning participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program may make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. The following payments may also be available:
• Monthly housing allowance
• Annual books and supplies stipend
• One-time rural benefit payment
Some service members may also transfer unused GI Bill benefits to their dependents.
Other factors to consider:
• Full tuition and fees are paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students.
• For those attending private or foreign schools, tuition and fees are capped at the national maximum rate.
• If you’re attending a private or a public institution of higher learning (either private or public) as a non-resident, out-of-state student you may be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program and entitled to additionaleducation-related costs not covered by VA.
Not everyone is eligible for this assistance.
YELLOW RIBBON PROGRAM
The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay you:
• All resident tuition & fees for a public school; and
• The lower of the actual tuition & fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school.
Your actual tuition and fees costs may exceed these amounts if you are attending a private school or are attending a public school as a nonresident student.
Institutions of Higher Learning (Degree Granting Institutions) may elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.
Degree-granting institutions of higher learning participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program agree to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. These institutions voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. The VA matches that amount and issues payments directly to the institution.
Veterans who do not qualify for the new G.I. Bill may want to consider applying for a vocational rehabilitation program if they have a service-connected disability.
For details on the VA’s vocational rehabilitation program on the Western Slope, call 970-241-5422. Please be prepared to leave a message as the counselor is required to make site visits to educational facilities participating in the program.
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