College Resources For Military Veterans: 2017 Resource GuideA resource for students who have served their country and are veterans of the armed forces.
Attending college for the first time can be stressful. This is especially true for veterans once they have been discharged from service. If you are a veteran, you may be at a loss of what to do once you have completed military service. You may feel that the obstacles you face in the transition are too overwhelming to consider committing to another structured environment.
You might entertain the idea of pursuing a higher education – but the cost of a college education is high. A financial hardship often deters many veterans from pursuing additional education following their military service.
As a veteran of the United States, the GI Bill and particularly the new, updated Post-9/11 Bill is there to give you help and assistance to receive higher education without the financial hardship.
History of the GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill
The original GI Bill was drafted by The American Legion. Since that time the GI Bill has undergone changes and updates. The biggest change has been made by the Post-9/11 GI Bill which expands the eligibility to include National Guard servicemen and full-time Active Guard and Reserve.
This updated version of the original GI Bill is available to you by helping to minimize your out-of-pocket college expenses by assisting with tuition, housing and other costs. If you are a former service member – you should tap into these resources to help you obtain a successful civilian career.
Eligibility For Benefits
If you plan to attend an approved program, The Post-9/11 GI Bill will provide up to 36 months of educational benefits. These benefits are usually payable for up to 15 years after you have been released from active duty. Many educational benefits go untouched by U.S. veterans – and expire after the 15 years.
Anyone who has served on a Title 10 order (active duty) for at least 90 days following September 10, 2001 is entitled to 36 months of benefits related to higher education. If you have served for at least three years, you would be eligible for 100 percent coverage.
Those who serve the minimum time period allowed will receive 40 percent of the allowed benefits. Benefits are pro-rated and increase by 10 percent for each six-month period of service until the three years is met.
What are the Benefits?
One of the most convenient changes to the previous bill is that the VA now pays tuition directly to your school. This will help you avoid any confusion and cuts down on worries about tuition payment.
- Public schools are covered up to 100 percent
- Private schools – $21.084 maximum per year
- Housing allowance
- Book and supply stipend
- Remember – Education benefits expire 15 years from discharge date
Funds may be available for you to receive money for monthly housing, a stipend for books and supplies and a one-time rural benefit payment (a one-time payment to relocate from a highly rural area to attend school – or air travel if no other transportation is available).
Based on the military’s basic housing allowance, living expenses are part of the benefits you can receive through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The cost of living in your area will be the determining factor in the amount you will receive for living expenses.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Some programs participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program makes additional funds available to you – while not charging your GI Bill entitlement. The schools who participate in this program do so voluntarily. They choose the amount of the tuition that will be contributed to the education of veterans. The Veterans Administration matches the amount and pays the school directly.
Eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program asks the same requirements for those veterans who are eligible for the 100 percent rate under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Why Pursue Education Post-Discharge?
Employers are quick to hire veterans because they know they have acquired the work ethic, experience and team-work that comes with serving in the military. Veterans have a proven track record for performance and are well-fitted for leadership and commitment – as well as technical abilities.
Many veterans have marketable skills that translate well into the workplace following discharge. However, even though you may have had training in specific areas, many employers require additional training and education or a valid degree before filling the position.
The skills you have acquired in the military compliments additional training from a reputable vocational school or online education.
One of the main concerns individuals have after leaving the military is finances. Families of veterans face financial problems and hardships with the change in income, residence and travel. Putting off advanced education is common while trying to sort out finances and the immediate change in lifestyle from military to civilian life.
You do not have to put off training for a new career due to financial concerns. You do not have to be limited to the career path you took while in the military. You are free to pursue something entirely different – or, increase the knowledge that you received while serving our country. There are different avenues of training and education that are open to you as a veteran.
Financial Assistance - Post 9/11 GI Bill
Every service member who has been honorably discharged from the military should take advantage of the many types of benefits available for to continue with education. It is important for you to understand the ins and outs of the GI Bill – as well as other educational aid programs that may be available to you.
When combined with the Post-9/11 GI BILL, scholarships and other types of grants will decrease the financial burden that education can bring upon an individual and family.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 GI Bill can help you with tuition, fees, housing and books. These provisions can be fully or partially covered if you have served at least 90 aggregate days of active duty after September 10, 2001.
The minimum benefit is 40 percent, which is available for veterans who have served between 90 days and six months. The maximum is 100 percent – for veterans who served at least 36 months (active duty). This financial assistance includes attending private colleges, universities – as well as trade and online schools. It will also cover tutoring if necessary and the cost of required testing (i.e. LSAT or SAT).
As a veteran – these benefits are available to you up to 15 years following your last active duty period. Your Honorable Discharge must have consisted of at least 90 days of service after September 10, 2001.
If you were honorably discharged due to a service-related disability, and served for at least 30 consecutive days – you may still qualify for specific benefits.
State Specific Benefits
Some states do not offer any additional benefits, while others offer benefits that reach beyond education.
- Dependent benefits
- Employment opportunity
- Property tax relief
It is important that you contact your state’s Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure you receive the additional benefits they offer.
How to Choose the Right School
Choosing the right school is especially important for veterans – since you may have transitional needs than traditional students. Many colleges, vocational schools and universities have special programs to help you succeed as you further your education.
Important Questions to Ask
As you embark on your journey to find the school that will help you reach your goals, there are a few important questions to ask before signing on the dotted line.
- Is the school accredited?
- Is there family housing?
- Will your credits transfer?
- For online study, do you need any special technical equipment?
- Do they offer flexible class schedules?
When you feel like you have found a college that is a good fit, try to get firsthand information to help you make your final decision. Ask more questions like:
- How many students finish their programs?
- What is the average length of time it takes to complete the program?
- How many students are successfully placed in jobs following completion of their program?
Visit In Person
If at all possible, you should visit the college in person. By visiting, you can get a feel for the atmosphere and get firsthand information to make a wise choice when choosing a school where you will be investing your time and money. Visit the office of veteran affairs, admissions office or academic counselor to get all of your questions answered.
If you are not able to attend in person – or if your school is one of the many online schools that you have to choose from, try to set up a phone call or video conference. Connecting with a person is an important step in making sure the school is the right fit for your needs.
Online and Vocational Education for Veterans
If distance or independent learning fits in best with your current situation, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is available for these types of advanced learning facilities.
In fact, if you decide to take distance-learning courses only – you will usually be able to receive a housing allowance. The amount of the allowance is usually based on 50 percent of the national average.
Adjustment to civilian life can be difficult. Once your military service days are left behind, it can be hard to balance school, home, family and even a job. While meeting your goals, online programs allow you to work from home and give you more freedom with your time and schedule. With online study, you will have an easier time as you transition back to life as a civilian without having to adjust to hectic campus life.
Online schools are convenient and can save you time and money. Many online schools will complement the skills you have already gained through your military service commitment. Vocational and online learning gets you out into the work force in a short amount of time and will put you into a career that is fulfilling and enable you to support yourself and your family.
Most colleges and universities now offer many of their degree programs online. If you are looking for a two or four-year degree, you can receive virtually the same educational degree online as you would by attending class every day.
Vocational training is a top choice for many veterans. Vocational schools give you the training you need to be able to begin a successful career in less time than traditional school – and many offer on-the-job training as well.
Benefits from the GI Bill are available for you to attend these non-college degree institutions, or vocational schools. There are many programs that lead directly to employment when the training is finished. Below we have listed a few of the areas of training that you can receive.
- Administrative specialist
- Computer network support
- Computer systems analyst
- Court reporter
- Dental hygienist
- Diesel mechanic
- Food service operations
- Heavy equipment operator
- HVAC mechanic and installer
- Information security
- Legal assistant
- Medical assistant
- Police officer
- Refrigeration systems
There is a civilian counterpart for many military occupational classifications. From mechanics to court reporting – dental hygienist to heavy equipment operators. Most all of the jobs that were performed while in the military have a place in the civilian business sector. You may need only minimal additional training to get back into a familiar position.
Most vocational schools qualify for VA benefits. If you decide to enroll in a vocational program that is not a traditional four-year college or university, you more than likely qualify for the same benefits. Tuition, monthly housing allowance, as well as a stipend for books and supplies.
This type of continued education allows you to be back into the civilian work force in a timely manner than if you attend a traditional four-year school. This is a tremendous benefit to you and your family.
Assistance for Military Dependents
The cost of advanced education stops many military spouses and their children from furthering their education. The help that is available through federally funded financial aid assistance program is there to assist military spouses and their children with the high cost of education.
The programs that are offered are designed to help dependents meet the cost of tuition, fees, books and/or living expenses.
This scholarship program provides assistance with educational expenses while pursuing certification, licenses or credentials that lead to occupations that are in high demand or high growth. This particular account is available to spouses of active service members. The program must be completed while the spouse is on Title 10 military orders.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
All unused benefits of this VA-administered program can be transferred to a family member. Programs that qualify include vocational training, undergraduate and graduate programs as well as reimbursement for licensing and certification.
Veteran Survivors & Dependents
This program reaches out to the dependents and survivors of veterans who have been totally and permanently disabled from a condition or injury received while in military service, or those who died while in active duty. This benefit can be used by the spouse or children ages 18-26.
Military dependents are eligible for benefits of the GI Bill by attending any out of state public school – and pay the in-state tuition. The maximum benefit being $20,000.
There are a number of scholarships that are available to spouses and dependents of those in the military. They do not need to be repaid and are from a number of different sources. They are based on skills, financial need, academic achievement.
Many types of scholarships are available through each service branch.
Additional Post-9/11 GI Bill Resources
Besides the Post 9/11 GI Bill – there are other resources for you to consider.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Besides giving you information on the GI Bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs have information regarding other types of aid that can help you pay for your schooling.
Disabled War Veterans Scholarships – Military personnel who were honorably discharged with a permanent disability occurring in the line of duty during the Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan or Iraqi Freedom Operations are eligible to apply for a scholarship. This is for those who are seeking an education in a two or four-year undergraduate program.
Fleet Reserve Association – This association has provided nearly a million dollars in educational scholarships since 2000.
Google SVA Scholarship – If you are pursuing a career in computer science or a related field, you may be eligible for a scholarship from Google and the Student Veterans of America.
Leave No Veteran Behind – The Leave No Veteran Behind organization provides training opportunities for veterans. They also help those who are experiencing a financial hardship because of a student-loan debt following post-secondary training.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – If you look at the website newgibill.org – you will see how the new Post-9/11 GI Bill replaces the Montgomery GI Bill. One of the main differences is that it now pays the tuition payments up-front, directly to your chosen school. The website also helps you to prepare to start school and apply for other benefits.
Selected Reserve – If you are a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force Marine or Coast Guard Reserve – as well as the Army and Air National Guard, you may receive additional benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-SR).
Reserve Educational Assistance Program – Educational assistance is provided to members of reserve units who have been called to active duty in response to national emergency or war. Those activated after September 11, 2001 are either eligible for benefits or increased benefits.
Applying for Benefits
Applying for your veteran’s benefits can be done online – if you know what benefits you wish to apply for. If you are not sure what is available to you, visit your nearest Veterans Administration office. For benefits related to education, the financial aid personnel at your chosen school will be able to give you the information you need for your application.
Once you have applied, you will be able to follow the process of your application online. Your education benefits application will be processed at one of the several claims processing centers: Atlanta; Buffalo; New York; Muskogee, OK and St. Louis, MO.