Returning to civilian life after the military can be a challenge, but there are numerous resources available to help soldiers find civilian success after serving. One of the most valuable benefits veterans are eligible for as they work on transitioning into civilian life is the GI Bill®. This opens the door for higher education that’s funded in-part or entirely by the government.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a bit different than its predecessors and there are some facts veterans will want to know about before they weigh their options. This bill was created in 2008 to update the older version put in place for World War II veterans. The Forever GI Bill, which became law in 2017, expands eligibility for military education benefits to more veterans and gives them more time to use those benefits.
Veterans qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill if they served at least 90 days of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge. At least three years of active-duty service generally is required to qualify for the full benefit. However, veterans who received a service-connected disability discharge must have been on active duty for at least 30 days to qualify for 100% of the benefit.
Benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill can also be earned by those eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill. Veterans can convert their benefits solely to the Post-9/11, or choose to exhaust Montgomery benefits before pursuing benefits under the Post-9/11. It’s best for veterans to consider the options closely before converting.
Veterans can find specific information about education benefits online at www.benefits.va.gov or by calling 1-888-442-4551 (1-888-GI-BILL-1).
Here are 10 facts about the Post-9/11 GI Bill veterans should know:
- Benefits are not taxable. Veterans do not have to claim GI Bill proceeds on their taxes, nor do they need to report them to the Internal Revenue Service.
- Veterans discharged before Jan. 1, 2013, have up to 15 years from the date of discharge to use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Under the Forever GI Bill, which became law in 2017, there is no time limit on using those benefits for veterans discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013.
- Students who chose to participate in the Buy Up program do not receive an increased $600 buy-up amount under chapters 30 or 1607. In addition, the money will not be refunded under the Post-9/11 bill.
- Students who paid the $1,200 enrollment fee for the Montgomery GI Bill and then switched to the Post-9/11 GI Bill can get the enrollment fee back.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill students can receive up to $2,000 for a certification of licensing exam or a work-study program. The amount is prorated based on the fee charged for the exam. The bill also pays up to $100 a month for tutoring assistance with a maximum of $1,200.
- Students eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill can exchange their benefits for Post-9/11 benefits. It is also possible in some cases to exhaust the Montgomery benefits then receive Post-9/11 benefits. Students cannot receive more than 48 months of total benefits, nor can they receive benefits from both programs at the same time.
- ROTC graduates are eligible for Post-9/11 benefits, but their time in the academy does not count toward service requirements. They must sign an obligation of service document to receive benefits.
- Students who were eligible for a College Fund or Reserve Kicker benefit can continue to qualify for this under the Post-9/11 bill.
- The National Call to Service Program can enhance Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits by adding such incentives as a $5,000 cash bonus, repayment of student loans up to $18,000 and an entitlement to an allowance.
- Under the Forever GI Bill, which became law in August 2017, veterans awarded a Purple Heart on or after Sept. 11, 2001, will be entitled to 100% of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months, effective Aug. 1, 2018.
Making a successful transition into civilian life often calls for obtaining a higher education. The Post-9/11 GI Bill paves the way by removing many of the financial obstacles veterans may face.
*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 website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.