As a service member or veteran of the U. S. military, you may be eligible for veterans education benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits can help you pay for your college education by lowering and managing the costs of tuition, fees, and even textbooks.
You can take advantage of several programs through the VA to make your college education more attainable.
The GI Bill, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Forever GI Bill, provides up to 36 months of education benefits to veterans and service members who served after Sept. 10, 2001, and their families.
Through the GI Bill, multiple payments for your college tuition and fees are made depending on the type of school you are attending. At the 100% benefit level, all of your tuition and fees are covered for a public institution. The maximum reimbursement for private and foreign institutions is adjusted each year. If you are eligible for benefits at a lower tier, your reimbursement amount is prorated.
|Type of Institution
|Maximum Tuition and Fee Reimbursement
per Academic Year
|All Tuition and Fee Payments
|Private or Foreign School
|Up to $24,476.79*
If you were released from active-duty service before Jan. 1, 2013, you must use your benefits within 15 years. However, if you were released after Jan. 1, 2013, there is no time limitation.
In addition, you may be able to receive an annual stipend to cover textbooks and supplies. Up to $1,000 is awarded each year for this stipend, which is paid proportionally based on your enrollment status.
- Undergraduate and graduate degrees at institutions of higher learning
- Correspondence training
- Cooperative training
- Entrepreneurship training
- Flight training
- Independent and distance learning
- Licensing and certification reimbursement
- Vocational/technical training, non-college degree programs
- National testing reimbursement
- On-the-job training
- Tuition assistance top-up
- Tutorial assistance
- Vocational/technical training
Yellow Ribbon Program
Part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program is available for students who are attending a school at which the tuition and fees for the academic year are greater than the maximum reimbursement amount provided by the VA. Not all higher education institutions participate in the program, and at those that do, the program is only awarded to a certain number of students. The Yellow Ribbon Program reduces the cost of college tuition and fees to zero for eligible students. It covers all of the in-state resident tuition and fees for public schools. For private schools, it lowers the tuition and fees or the national maximum per academic year.
Through the program, additional funds are made available for your online program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. Schools enter a voluntary agreement with the VA and determine the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. The VA matches the amount your school contributes and distributes funds directly to your school.
- Have served 36 months of active duty
- Be a Purple Heart recipient with honorable discharge and any amount of service
- Be a service member who was discharged after 60 days because of a service-related disability and have served 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001
- Be a dependent child who is using transferred benefits
- Be a service member who is receiving benefits at the 100% level or a spouse using transferred benefits from a service member who is at the 100% benefits level (as of Aug. 1, 2022)
Transfer of Entitlement
If you wish to transfer all or some of your unused benefits, you can do so by requesting a Transfer of Entitlement. The program allows you to transfer up to all 36 months of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to either your spouse, to one or more of your dependent children, or any combination of the two.
To transfer benefits, you must submit your request and have it approved by the Department of Defense while you are actively serving. Once your request is approved, the new beneficiary can apply for the education benefits at the VA.
If you are an active-duty service member or are in the Selected Reserve and are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can request a Transfer of Entitlement. You must also be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for your GI Bill benefits at the time of the transfer. In addition, you must have either:
- Six or more years of active-duty or Selected Reserve service when your request is approved and agree to serve an additional four years in the military
- 10 or more years of active-duty or Selected Reserve service when your request is approved and are prevented from serving four additional years in the military by standard policy or a statute. In this case, you must agree to serving the maximum amount of time allowed by that standard policy or statute.
As of July 20, 2019, transfer of entitlement is limited to service members with 16 years or less of active-duty or Selected Reserve service.
Montgomery GI Bill
Another veterans education benefit you may be eligible for is the Montgomery GI Bill. There are two types available: one for active-duty military members and one for those in the reserves.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) — Chapter 30
Available to veterans and service members who have two or more years of active-duty service, the MGIB-AD can be used for college degree and certificate programs, certain entrance examinations, and more. The program offers up to 36 months of education benefits, which are available for 10 years after release from honorable active-duty service.
To receive the monthly education benefit after fulfilling your minimum service obligation, you must enroll in the program and contribute $100 per month. Benefits are paid depending on the type of training you take, your length of service, your category, college fund availability, and whether you contributed up to $600 in the buy-up program during active-duty service. With the buy-up program, you receive increased monthly benefits and up to $5,400 in additional GI Bill benefits.
- Have honorable discharge
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or (in certain situations) 12 hours of college credit
- Meet the requirements of your category
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
Through the MGIB-SR, members of the Selected Reserve can receive up to 36 months of military education benefits for college degree and certificate programs, certain entrance exams, and more. In this program, the VA makes payments toward your college education. Your eligibility for the program is determined by Selected Reserve components.
- Have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985, and be actively drilling
- Agree to serve six additional years (if an officer)
- Have completed initial active duty for training
- Have received a high school diploma or GED before completing initial active duty for training
- Stay in good standing when serving in your active Selected Reserve Unit
- Be able to keep your eligibility if discharged because of a disability that did not result from misconduct
Other Veterans Education Benefits
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for other veterans education benefits.
- Additional Pell Grant funds
- Lower student loan interest rates
- Student loan interest limited to 6% if you received loans before serving or being called for active duty
- No accruing interest on student loans
- Student loan deferment
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
The Reserve Educational Assistance Program is for members of the reserves who were called to active duty because of a war or national emergency declared by the president or U.S. Congress. Mostly replaced by the GI Bill, this program ended in 2015. However, those who are still eligible can receive benefits through Nov. 25, 2019.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
Available to veterans who made contributions to the program with their military pay during service, the Veterans Educational Assistance Program provides up to 36 months of benefits depending on the contributions made. The U.S. government matches contributions on a 2-to-1 basis, and benefits must be used within 10 years of release from active-duty service. If you do not use the benefits within 10 years, your contributions will be automatically refunded to you.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship
For surviving children and spouses of service members who died while serving after Sept. 10, 2001, the Fry Scholarship provides benefits for up to 36 months at the 100% level. Children become eligible for the program on their 18th birthday unless they have already graduated high school. Spouses lose eligibility if they become remarried.
|Eligible for benefits before Jan. 1, 2013
|Benefits eligibility ends on 33rd birthday
|Eligible for benefits after Jan. 1, 2013
|No time limitation
|Eligible for benefits before Jan. 1, 2013
|Must use benefits within 15 years
|Eligible for benefits after Jan. 1, 2013
|No time limitation
The program can be used with the Yellow Ribbon Program, but it cannot be used at the same time as the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA). The Fry Scholarship and the DEA program can be used together if the service member died before Aug. 1, 2011, and if the programs are used one at a time. In this case, benefits for both programs are capped at a total of 81 months.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program
- Died during active-duty service
- Died due to a service-related condition, or
- Are permanently and totally disabled because of a service-related condition
If you started the program before Aug. 1, 2018, you can receive up to 45 months of benefits. You can receive up to 36 months of benefits if you started the program after Aug. 1, 2018. The program cannot be used at the same time as the Fry Scholarship.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
If your parent or guardian died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, you may be eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
- Are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant due to your expected family contribution
- Meet the remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements
- Were 24 or younger or were enrolled at least part-time in college when your parent or guardian died
The Iraq and Afghanistan Service grant provides the maximum Federal Pell Grant amount for the award year. However, it cannot exceed your cost of attendance for the year.
How to Apply for Veterans Education Benefits
- Apply online on the VA website
- Contact your school’s VA certifying official, who has application forms and can assist you with the application process
- Call 1-888-GI BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) to have an application mailed to you
After you have submitted your application, you can use the VA’s interactive map to determine how fast your regional office is processing claims.
- Submit a supplemental claim
- Submit for a higher-level review
- Appeal to the board
Military Friendly® Schools
Some higher education institutions receive the Military Friendly® School designation. With this distinction, you can be confident that as a veteran you will receive top-notch care throughout your educational journey. These schools are committed to helping veterans transition from their military service to their college career.
- Participate in federal programs for veterans
- Meet specific benchmarks in retention, graduation, loan default, transfer and job placement rates
- Are scored in certain categories, including academic policies and compliance, graduation and career outcomes, admissions and orientation, financial aid and loan repayment, military student support and retention, and culture and commitment
- Are flagged if they have suspended accreditation, veteran student complaints reported by the VA, federal precautionary flags within the past 12 months, and federal funding/program suspension
Let Your School Serve You
With numerous military education benefits available, earning your degree online and transitioning to a life outside of military service is simple. No matter what your status is in the U.S. military or if you are a spouse or a dependent child, you can reach your goals with the help of your online school and the VA.