Military and Veterans Education Benefits

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.

GI Bill®

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 InstitutionMaximum Tuition and Fee Reimbursement
per Academic Year
Public SchoolAll Tuition and Fee Payments
Private or Foreign SchoolUp to $24,476.79*
* National maximum reimbursement amount effective Aug. 1, 2019.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Other Veterans Education Benefits

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for other veterans education benefits.

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.

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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.

Surviving Children
Eligible for benefits before Jan. 1, 2013Benefits eligibility ends on 33rd birthday
Eligible for benefits after Jan. 1, 2013No time limitation
Surviving Spouses
Eligible for benefits before Jan. 1, 2013Must use benefits within 15 years
Eligible for benefits after Jan. 1, 2013No 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

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.

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

After you have submitted your application, you can use the VA’s interactive map to determine how fast your regional office is processing claims.

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.

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.

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