Ready to use your GI benefits but unsure which bill is right for you? Let me break it down:
Montgomery GI Bill
The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the GI Bill of Rights, was established to provide a host of benefits for returning WWII veterans, including unemployment insurance, housing, and the Montgomery GI Bill, which paid college tuition for honorably discharged veterans. It was so well-received that by 1947, veterans accounted for 49% of college admissions. I can only imagine how quickly those dorms turned into barracks culture and different halls began raiding one another.
These days, in order for a servicemember to qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill, they need to pay $100 a month for 12 months. I get it - you’re already paying for your haircuts, chow, and uniforms - but I assure you this additional expenditure is worth it. The contribution keeps the program funded without a dependency on the everyday taxpayer, safeguarding the program from any potential cuts by Congress.
So, what you really want to know is: How much does it pay out?
The monthly rate as of October 1st, 2020 is $1,211, which is deposited directly into a student’s account each month for a maximum of 36 months. It’s the student’s responsibility to deliver those funds to their school, so for the professional skaters reading this: No, do not use the money on a flat-screen tv.
I’m looking at you, E4 mafia.
Once your application is processed you’ll receive your eligibility notification. T&P lifehack: Treat this like a CIF turn in and apply for your education benefits before selecting a school so that you don’t have to wait for your benefits to kick in once you’re accepted. Otherwise, you could end up waiting 30 days or more for your certificate of eligibility. How many times did Admin tell you that they were going to update your service jacket and now no one believes you’re Airborne qualified? Prior proper planning.
GI Bill 2.0 (Post-9/11)
If you served on active duty for more than 90 days after September 10th, 2001, you qualify for the new and improved Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Post-9/11 Veteran’s Educational Assistance Act of 2008 went into effect on August 1, 2009. Updates include:
- Up to 100% of tuition and fee coverage
- Monthly housing allowance or stipend
- Up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies
- Relocation pay covered
If you think you can’t control your skating tendencies, have no fear - the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays your school directly. With the added monthly housing allowance, you could play it smart, live under budget and end up getting that flat screen anyway. That said, use your book and supply stipend properly. You wouldn’t show up to formation in the wrong uniform of the day and you’re not going to want to show up to class without the proper textbook because you spent that money hosting a theme party.
Compared to other benefits, the application process for both bills is surprisingly user friendly. If you have a school in mind, make sure it’s VA approved (find out by contacting the school admissions counselor). Then, just complete the application on the VA website.
So which bill makes sense for you?
If you’re pursuing a four-year degree, the best choice is the Post-9/11 GI Bill that covers housing allowance, book stipend, and full tuition for most schools. That is the straight talk salty E5 answer.
Now for the more experienced E7 answer: For students considering an advanced degree, or as I like to call, the high speed low drags, we recommend using your Montgomery GI Bill for four years, then switching to the Post-9/11 GI Bill so you can capitalize on an additional 12 months of benefits.
You can use your Montgomery GI Bill up to a certain point and still have a year left of your Post-9/11 GI available to you for an advanced degree program. The additional 12 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill would be enough to pay for half of most masters degrees and the VA will most likely pay a higher resident tuition rate. This is some real benefit hacking here and it would behoove you to consider mixing the two. Prove your Platoon Commander wrong.
Just like deciding on which branch to join, you probably want to get advice from an experienced admissions officer at a school that has a successful track record supporting a veteran student body. Nearly a third of the Purdue University Global student body has a military affiliation so their advisors are more than prepared to give you the proper guidance to achieve academic success. Purdue University Global offers over 175 degree and certificate programs that you can take online so relocation is not an issue.
Bottom line, one size does not fit all. Do your homework to get the most out of your hard-earned benefits!
This article is sponsored by Purdue University Global.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.