Education

Veterans and the GI Bill

History of the GI Bill

In the heat of World War II fighting, President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned his thoughts to what would happen at the end of World War II, when floods of American troops and sailors returned home to pick up the pieces of their civilian lives.  He wanted to help those returning GIs, many of whom were only 17 or 18 when they left for war in 1941.  He was determined that this time the U.S. Government would not fail the soldiers and sailors returning from war. Roosevelt had in mind the lessons of World War I.  After that war, troops returned home to find that other people now had their jobs.  Many were restless and without direction, unable to find a role in civilian life.  They were given little help and fewer opportunities.

Roosevelt began talking with members of Congress and national leaders.  There was discussion of various forms of education benefits, many of them income based, but it was Harry W. Colmery, former American Legion National Commander and Republican National Chairman, who first suggested providing benefits to all World War II veterans, both male and female.  Colmery’s idea became the first draft of the GI Bill.  The Bill went to Congress in January of 1944.  It was heavily debated in both houses, but it was finally approved.  Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law on June 22, 1944.

The GI Bill was a lifesaver for many returning veterans.  Young, working class veterans, who thought higher education was beyond their reach, used the GI Bill to go to college.  The Bill gave servicemen and servicewomen many options for vocational training or college.  They could attend school tuition-free and receive a cost of living stipend.  In 1947, almost 49% of students admitted to college were returning veterans.  The Bill also provided an unemployment benefit of $20 per week for veterans who wanted jobs rather than education.  Believe it or not, a person could live on $20 per week in 1945.  Job counseling services, low interest mortgages, and veterans’ hospitals were also included in the benefits provided.  

While the newly minted GI Bill helped thousands of veterans to readjust to civilian life, black and Hispanic veterans were not as lucky.  Rampant racism by local banks prevented many blacks and Hispanics from getting VA home loans, and their choice of colleges was often limited by “whites only” admission policies.  Despite the obstacles, some persevered and found a way to use their GI Bill benefits.

The post-World War II GI Bill was instrumental in spurring a rapid expansion of the middle class, the post war building boom, and rapid economic growth.  The GI Bill continued to be offered as American GIs went off to fight in other wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War to name a few.  Both my husband and I went to college on the GI Bill after we were discharged from the Air Force in 1970.  Without it, we could not have afforded to finish our educations.

 

The Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill

In 1984, a Congressional Representative from Mississippi, Sonny Montgomery, proposed that Congress make the GI Bill permanent.  His proposal resulted in Congress passing the Montgomery GI Bill.  Then, in 2008, Congress passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, which is also called the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  The Post-9/11 GI Bill was intended to give veterans who served on active duty after September 11, 2001 greater education benefits and options.  It also allowed veterans to transfer unused education benefits to their children or spouse.

 

The Differences Between the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill.

The Post-9/11 Bill

Both programs are still available, and some veterans have the option to choose between the programs.  The Post-9/11 GI Bill will match 100 percent of the tuition at the most expensive state school or university at the undergraduate tuition rate.  This means the veteran can choose any public college or university in his state of residence, and the Bill will pay 100% tuition based on the in-state, undergraduate tuition rate for a full-time student. The Bill provides benefits for up to 36 months of education.  For veterans discharged from service before January 1, 2013, they have 15 years from the date of discharge to use their education benefits.  For those who were discharged after January 1, 2013, the 15-year time limit has been removed, and they have a lifetime to use the benefits.  In addition to tuition, veteran students will receive a monthly housing allowance and an annual payment of $1000 per year for books and supplies.  

The education benefits can start and stop.  There is no requirement for the veteran to use them all at once.  For example:  Jason left the Navy in early 2012.  He enrolled at his local community college and carried a full credit load of classes during both the fall and spring semesters.  With one year of school behind him, he has used 9 of his 36 months of benefits.  (His first semester ran August 1 through December 15, 2012.  His second semester ran from mid-January through the end of May, 2013.)     He used 4 ½ months the first semester and 4 ½ months the second semester, for his total of 9 months.  Jason spent the next six months dealing with a family health crisis and the death of his father.  In January of 2014, Jason enrolled at his local university.  He still has 27 months of GI Bill benefits left to complete his education.

Another unique aspect of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the Yellow Ribbon Program.  The Yellow Ribbon Program allows participating colleges and universities to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed the maximum allowable for public universities. The institution can contribute up to 50% of the extra expenses, and the VA will match the contribution.  The program may also include a monthly housing allowance and an annual stipend for books and supplies.  The Yellow Ribbon Program enables veterans to attend more expensive private colleges and still have the cost covered by the GI Bill.  The Gi Bill can also be used for education other than college.  It covers many other programs, including flight training, vocational training, apprenticeships, and distance learning programs, to name a few.

To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must have served at least 30 days of continuous, active duty after September 10, 2001, and been discharged based on a service related disability.  If you were not discharged for a service related disability, you must have served at least 90 days on active duty and received an honorable discharge. 

Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify if subject to Title 10 mobilizations and with some title 32 duty for reservists and guard members.  The Bill provides tiers of benefits based on active duty service.  Veterans with 36 months of cumulative active duty service (including basic and skills training) are eligible for 100% of the full benefit.  The same is true of those who served at least 30 days of active duty and were discharged with a service related disability.  Those with 30 cumulative months have 90% eligibility.  24 cumulative months of active duty service gets you 80% of the full benefit, but basic and entry level skills training do not count in the 24-month calculation.  You will find the full list of eligibility requirements in one of the resources listed at the end of this article:  https://www.military.com/education/gi-bill/post-9-11.

Montgomery GI Bill

There is a Montgomery GI Bill for service members who served on active duty.  There is a separate Montgomery Gi Bill program for eligible Reservists and National Guard. 

The active duty Montgomery GI Bill provides benefits for veterans and service members with at least 2 years of active duty service.  Like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it covers college and a multitude of other types of educational programs.  Those eligible can receive up to 36 months of education benefits and normally, have 10 years to use their benefits.  However, different situations may change your eligibility time limits.  

Some service members may have participated in the $600 buy-up-program offered to active duty personnel.  If the active duty GI contributes his or her $600 to the program, that person will be eligible for up to $5400 in additional education benefits upon leaving the service.  The Post-9/11 GI bill pays the benefit directly to the school.  The Montgomery GI Bill pays the benefit to the student. 

To be eligible, you must be honorably discharged and have a high school diploma or GED.  In some instances, 12 hours of college credit can substitute for the high school diploma or GED.  In addition to those requirements, you must meet additional criteria relating to the time period when you served, possible military pay reductions, reserve service and separation.  You will find the details in the VA resource:  www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/mgib_ad.asp.

The Montgomery GI Selected Reserve Program provides education benefits to members of the Selected Reserve.  That includes, the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard Reserve, as well as the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.  Like the other GI Bill programs, eligible participants are entitled to up to 36 months of education benefits.  To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have at least a 6-year obligation to serve signed after June 30, 1985.  Some types of training require the 6-year commitment to be signed after September 30, 1990.
  • Have completed initial active duty training (ADT).
  • Have acquired high school diploma or GED before completing ADT.
  • Remain in good standing with the Reserve or Guard.

Normally, your eligibility ends when you leave the Guard or Reserve.  However, the situation changes if you are called up to active duty.  Active duty status extends your eligibility time and may qualify you for additional eligibility under the MGIB-SR.  The VA can provide you with more detailed information.

If you think you may be eligible for GI Bill education benefits, go online to learn more.  If you have eligibility, please use it.  Education can do so much to improve your life and open your eyes to a world of possibilities.


Resources

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/gi-bill

www.military.com/education/gi-bill/new-post-911-gi-bill-overview.html

www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp

www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/montgomery_bill.asp

www.military.com/education/gi-bill/5-must-know-gi-bill-facts.html

www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/yellow_ribbon.asp

Sources

See: above listed.

 

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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