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What the GI Bill covers

The GI Bill was established to help military servicemen coming back from Word War II receive educational and job training so that they could effectively re-enter the post-war work force. This first GI bill is referred to as the Montgomery GI Bill. After 9/11/2001 an update was passed to the original Montgomery GI Bill giving veterans with active duty service on or after 9/11/2001 more benefits. This new bill is referred to as the Post 9/11 GI Bill and is also known as the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

The purpose of both GI Bills is the same; the main difference being that the Post 9/11 GI Bill expanded coverage into areas that the first GI Bill didn’t cover.

Both GI Bills cover vocational and technical training and undergraduate and graduate degrees at approved institutions of higher learning (IHL). The Post 9/11 GI Bill also reimburses veterans for housing, books, approved tutorial services, licensing and test and certificate fees.

How much assistance you are eligible for is dependent upon how long you have served in the military and what type of IHL you plan on attending. Most servicemen/women are eligible for 36 months worth of benefits that may be used within 15 years after leaving active service. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will cover:

  • Tuition and fees not to exceed the maximum in-state tuition and fees. The VA has a chart to help you figure out the maximum state tuition rates.
  • A monthly housing allowance.
  • An annual stipend for books and supplies up to $1000.00 dollars.
  • For private and/or expensive institutions there is a program called the “Yellow Ribbon Program,” designed to help make up the difference in the higher tuition and the maximum public in-state allowance.
  • For attending foreign schools there is a fixed reimbursement rate of $1348.00 for 2010 and $1347.00 for 2011.
  • There is a one-time $500.00 rural benefit payment available for those who qualify.

Most Veterans now fall under the Post 9/11 GI Bill but for Active Duty and some reservists, the Montgomery GI Bill is still applicable and may meet your needs better than the Post 9/11 GI Bill. For example, Active Duty personnel can receive 100% reimbursement for tuition but are not entitled to a housing allowance. Before leaving service it’s important to seek vocational counseling and fully understand how best to meet your post service educational and training needs. Each individual’s circumstances are unique and often times a little planning can really make those GI Bill dollars go a lot further.

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