Post-9/11 GI Bill: New Military Tuition Assistance

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, the new addition to the military tuition assistance programs offered by the Veterans Affairs Department, officially kicks in on August 1st. The new GI Bill offers a timely alternative to job-hunting in a rocky economy: use your military tuition assistance benefits to go back to school instead.

USAToday: New GI Bill Could Open Education Doors for More Vets

The American Council on Education provides a “plain language Q&A” of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which will pay up to 100% tuition and fees at any state-operated college or university for veterans with at least 90 days of active military duty since 9/11/2001. The new GI Bill also provides a monthly housing stipend and up to $1,000 a year for books and school supplies. If you have to move to be near your campus, the bill gives you a one-time stipend for those costs, or, if you enroll in an accredited distance learning program, that’s also covered by this military tuition assistance plan.

Eligible service members honorably discharged with 36 or more months of active duty will get 100% of the Post-9/11 Bill’s benefits; those with less than 36 months of active service get a prorated percentage. The benefits increase with your amount of active service.

One of the appeals of the new GI Bill is the transferability of military tuition assistance benefits to your spouse or children, an option long desired by service members. A June Stars and Stripes article provides an overview of the transferability process so far.

Another appeal of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the opportunity to attend a private college, regardless of cost. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program, participating private universities will waive or offset up to 50% of whatever their tuition is above the highest state-operated tuition, and VA will match that same amount. For example, if the tuition bill at a participating Yellow Ribbon university is $30,000 and the Post-9/11 GI Bill will only cover $15,000 (the highest public university in-state undergraduate tuition), the university and VA will split the $15,000 difference.

A new feature that may have temporarily backfired is the extension of GI Bill benefits to National Guardsmen and reservists. Extending benefits to Guardsmen and reservists with at least 90 days of active service was another long overdue policy change, but one loophole got by: it applies only to Guardsmen and reservists who served overseas. This oversight will no doubt be rectified at some point, but probably not this year.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill does not replace the Montgomery GI Bill, it is an alternative program offering a different arrangement for dispensing tuition assistance funding. The primary difference between the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is that the first provides a consistent monthly stipend intended to cover all your living and school costs (including tuition and books) and the second provides you with separate payments for tuition and fees, housing, and books. The Post-9/11 GI Bill gives you 15 years to use up your benefits; the MGIB, only 10 years.

While the post-9/11 GI Bill has some welcome new features, it may not be right for everyone. You’ll have to evaluate the benefits offered in each GI Bill program and decide which plan offers you the greatest advantages and the most money. But whether you stick with the Montgomery GI Bill or transfer to the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, this is a good time to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to maximize your military assistance benefits. After the sacrifices you and your family have made for your country, you deserve the lifelong advantages that evolve through higher education.

15 comments to “Post-9/11 GI Bill: New Military Tuition Assistance”

  1. I never had any of the bills while in he military and I have recently retired . Do I qualify?

  2. Hi Bonnie,
    You may qualify—it depends on what you mean by “recent” when you say you recently retired. To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you have to have served on active duty for at least 90 cumulative days on or after 9/11/2001. So if you retired any time between January 2002 and last week, you may indeed qualify for the benefits of the Post-9/11 Bill. If you served on active duty for 3 years or more after 9/11/2001, you could get 100% of your college tuition paid for—an invaluable opportunity not to be missed.

    If you retired before 9/11/2001, but not longer ago than 10 years, you may still be eligible for education benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill, but only if you had $100 a month taken out of your first year of pay (the required service member MGIB contribution).

    To find out exactly what your circumstances qualify you for, you should call the Veterans Affairs Education Service at 1-888-442-4551 or contact them through their online form at the http://www.gibill.va.gov/ website. Good luck, and thank you for your service to our country!

  3. Do you know if you can get both the Post-9/11 Bill and the MGIB at the same time?

  4. Amanda – You can’t get both at the same time, unfortunately. We just posted about this exact dilemma though; it helps you figure out if the new GI bill is best for you, or if you’re better off sticking with the MGIB. Hopefully it answers your questions, but let us know if you have others!

    http://www.educationgrant.com/2009/07/27/new-gi-bill-for-college/

    Sandra
    Community Manager
    EducationGrant.com

  5. Does it matter what college I attend? Does online courses or on campus attendance matter?

  6. Cynthia,

    Find approved education programs at this site: http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/search_programs.htm. You’ll see that this database of schools and programs is vast, and includes colleges & universities, flight schools, and correspondence schools.

    Veterans enrolled as full-time or three-quarter-time students will be paid a housing allowance. If your classes are all online or pursued via distance learning, you can use the tuition benefit under Chapter 33 (the new, post-9/11 GI Bill), but would not qualify for the living allowance. The IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) encourages these veterans to consider using Chapter 30 (the MGIB bill).

    To help figure out what the best plan of action is for you, check out the IAVA’s page; they put together a great page that really spells out how these benefits work. Their FAQ page can be found at http://dev.newgibill.org/get_answers.

    Best of luck!
    Sandra
    Community Manager
    EducationGrant.com

  7. Can I use 9/11 GI Bill and tuition assistance?

  8. Hi, Vivian,
    I’m not sure if, by “tuition assistance,” you mean other military tuition assistance or tuition assistance from a non-military source. In either case, it’s an excellent question, but I don’t know the answer. I suspect that your GI Bill benefits will cover almost all, if not all, of your education expenses, particularly if you qualify for and choose the post-9/11 Bill program. On the other hand, the information from the GI Bill website advises you to consider “the financial aid you receive from other sources” when figuring out which GI Bill program will serve you better. I think the best answer to your question will come from the school you want to enroll in. School financial aid offices are trained to help students understand and combine all the different financial aid options available to them. Talk to your school financial aid office ASAP, and let them know which kind of “tuition assistance” you may have access to besides the GI Bill benefits. Best wishes, the EducationGrant Editor

  9. I submited my information a while ago and I was just wondering how long it takes for me to get my benifits? thank You

  10. Hi,
    Thanks for reading. EducationGrant.com do not give out financial aid, grants or scholarships personally – we are strictly a website that provides resources and information. You should check the status of your application where you submitted it.
    All the best,
    EducationGrant Editor

  11. Hi,
    I was wondering if the Post 9/11 living allowance should be coordinated into the financial aid package. In my situation, it is and so my grants were removed and my loans reduced, leaving me to pay the remainder of the tuition up front and out of my own pocket. Is this process correct, because isn’t my living allowance supposed to be for me to use to pay for my living expenses and not used towards school unless I so decide to?

  12. Hello,
    Regarding the Post 9/11 GI Bill – I would contact your financial advisor, so that they can provide assistance with your loans and payments.
    Best of luck,
    EducationGrant Editor

  13. I recently applied for the post 9/11 GI Bill aka Chapter 33 educational benefits through VONAPP form 1990. On the application, there is an entry box entitled “effective date.” Thinking that “effective date” meant when the application went into effect, I put the current date. In fact, what I was attempting to do was backdate my benefits and receive retroactive payment for a previous semester, fall 2009. I submitted this application in March, hoping to receive the full back pay from the fall semester under chapter 33 benefits, and the full monthly benefits of the spring semester up to that point in time and continuing throughout the semester. However, the effective date actually meant: on which date would I like to retroactively (if applicable) backdate my claim for payment. I wasn’t aware of this technicality, and it cost me upwards of 5-7,000$, as I instead received the very much lower monthly payment of the Montgomery GI Bill for the extent of the previous fall semester, bummer. I was told by the VA Educational HQ in Muskogee, Oklahoma to appeal the decision and it may be possible to correct the date, but it is taking more time than i had hoped for. There is also no way, as told to me by every clerk at the office in Oklahoma, to contact the Appeals HQ (also in Muskogee,OK) and receive an update on my appeal. Do you have any advice for this complex situation, or have you heard any stories of success in similar situations? Thanks.

  14. Can you use TA and post 911 together? I was thinking of attending a university which in order to be consider a full timer all you need is to take 2 classes instead of 4 like most of the colleges do, this is due to the fact that they are minimesters. Im assuming that if i would like to take more than 2 classes the 911 would only pay for 2 since that is considered full time, but how about the TA could i use it to take an additional class? Ive already spoken to the counselors about taking 1 additional class and was told is fine as long as my GPA does not drop lower than 3.0 although they could not answer my question whether i could use both at the same time.
    thank you for your time.

  15. Good blog! I like it.

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