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Navigating Military Tuition Assistance Programs

So you’ve decided to go back to school. Great!

And you’ve heard that veterans are eligible for tuition assistance! Awesome news, right?!

But where do you start? For which military tuition assistance programs are you eligible? Whom do you contact? There is so much to think about….. AHHH!

Calm down, it’s going to be OK, because I’m about to give you a quick and easy rundown of some of common forms of military tuition assistance.

Deep breath, here we go…

Active Duty

Tuition Assistance

You are all probably most familiar with active duty tuition assistance (TA). If you are still active duty, take advantage of this program, which can pay up to 100 percent of your tuition. TA often comes with certain service requirements and caps, so get your service specific information first. The best POCs are your chain of command and base education office, which can also help you apply.

Veterans Administration Programs

GI Bill

The GI Bill comes in two flavors: the old Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

If you contributed $100 p/month anytime during your service for the GI Bill, you are eligible for the Montgomery brand. If qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill as well, you will have a choice between the two programs. Keep in mind, except for rare situations, you can only use one program, so once you’ve decided you have to stick with it.

Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30)

If you’ve served at least three years and received an honorable discharge and paid into the MGIBill, then you are eligible to receive these benefits. The MGIBill will pay 100 percent of the state tuition and fees for the total of 36 months. This tuition can include vocational and other types of specialty training.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

If you served at least 90 days after 10 SEP 2001 or were discharged after 30 days with a service-connected disability, you are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For those who are eligible for 100 percent of this benefit, it will pay all of the tuition and fees for in-state students at public institutions. This program includes a living stipend that is equal to E-5 BAH rates. Eligible members also receive an additional book stipend that will help with the cost of most books. With this version of the GI Bill, veterans are able to attend vocational or other specialty training and, of course, college.

Confused? Read this article;  The Difference Between the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill

We also created a cool infographic about  Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits, check it out!

How to Apply:

Get over to the VA Benefit Applications website. You will find a list of forms available for download, as well as online applications. Scroll down to “Education Benefits for Veterans” and fill out the form and submit. Here’s the waiting game: I’m sure you’ve heard the VA is overloaded so it frequently takes a bit of time to get a response. Patience is your friend. But trust me, it’s worth it.

Vocational Rehabilitation

This program was created in the spirit of assisting disabled veterans with employment eligibility. Chapter 31 benefits include retraining in job fields that will minimize any received disability. Essentially, their goal is to get disabled veterans back into the workforce in the best capacity possible. Retraining may include vocational certification programs, as well as pursuit of college degrees.

Eligibility is based on disability percentage determined by the VA. Please note here: Only vets who have received a disability rating from the VA are eligible for this benefit.

Vocational Rehabilitation Chapter 31 can cover up to 100 percent of tuition and fees, and you may also be eligible for a stipend to cover living expenses throughout training.

How to Apply:

Check out the Vocational Rehabilitation website and click on the “How to Apply” tab for directions. Submit an application online through the VA E-Benefits portal. The turn-around for these applications is reasonable, although it varies depending on the regional office.

Let’s face it: School is expensive! Not only is submitting university applications costly, but so are the finalities of residency, textbooks, commuting and maintaining a household while in school.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a great education benefit, but if you don’t qualify for 100 percent coverage or it doesn’t cover all of your education costs, there are other options. Education scholarships, grants and fellowships exist for the academia-bound veteran, along with options for family members and military personnel serving in positions within the Department of Defense.

We’ll take a look at a few scholarships for veterans and other post 911 GI Bill benefits to help guide you to even more funding.

Now that you understand your benefits, click on the image below and to find the best Military Friendly® Schools.

GI Bill Benefits

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