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All too often veterans who qualify for education benefits waste them because they are not familiar with what they’ve earned. I talk to veterans on a daily basis who tell me they don’t have any benefits remaining because their GI Bill is already gone, or the time to use it has already passed. The truth is, most veterans don’t know what’s available.
So let’s get right into it!
Chapter 30 – Montgomery GI Bill
This is the “pre” 9/11 GI Bill. This is the benefit that some of us “old timers” signed up for (after 7/1/85) when we first started serving. During enlistment, we gave $100 a month for one year. This entitled us to 36 months of the Montgomery GI Bill. Unfortunately, for most of us, this GI Bill has already expired as a lot of us served prior to 9/11/2001. However, if you are still serving, or served after 9/11, you have up to 10 years after your ETS date to use this. If you’ve never used your Montgomery GI Bill before, you will complete a VA-1990 form on the GI Bill website (www.gibill.va.gov). You will then receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA within six to eight weeks. You will essentially be a “cash” paying student, as the money is sent to you, not the school.
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Chapter 33 – Post-9/11 GI Bill
This program is the successor to the Montgomery GI Bill. And it makes it a lot easier to use for school. This is for any servicemen or women who served after 9/11/2001. To get 100 percent of the benefit, you must have served 36 months or more after 9/11. However, it can be prorated (percentage) if service time is less than 36 months after 9/11. The VA will pay all tuition and fees for an in-state student and up to $20,235.02 (edit as of 8/15 – $21,084.89) per academic year for a private or foreign school (paid directly to the school). There is a housing allowance that is also given, equivalent to E-5 BAH in the ZIP code of your school. But if you go exclusively online (no classroom instruction), you will receive 50 percent of the national average for E-5 BAH: $754.50. You will not receive a housing allowance if you attend classes half-time or less (what is considered by the school to be half or less of a full credit load). To apply, go to www.gibill.va.gov, and complete the VA-1990 form for first-time filers, or VA-1995 if you have used it before.
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Chapter 31 – Vocational Rehab
This is the program that most veterans don’t even know exists, or don’t know if they qualify for. This program is for any veteran with a disability rating of at least 10 percent through the VA. Veterans have up to 12 years from their initial rating to apply. However, if you have not used your GI Bill, and are qualified for it, you will lose it to use this program. That’s why I always recommend veterans use their GI Bill first, and then use Chapter 31 if they need it. Veterans must meet and be assigned a VA case worker who will approve your education path. You will have to file a 28-1905 with them, and send an approved copy to your school. The amount of months covered is determined by the case worker. However, case workers use their personal discretion on which schools you can use your benefits at.
Chapter 35- Survivor and Dependent Education Assistance Program
This program is for spouses and dependents of service-related deceased (KIA) or 100-percent disabled veterans. Spouses and dependents are entitled to a maximum of 45 months of education benefits through Chapter 35. Spouses are eligible within 10 years of separation or disability. Dependents must be between 18-26 years old, and must apply within eight years. Student completes a VA-5490 and submits to VA. The money is sent to the student, and he/she is considered a cash paying student with the school.
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