5 Facts to Know About the Post-9/11 GI Bill

The GI Bill, which began as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, has its roots in the WWII era. The goal was to give returning veterans the tools to acclimate and succeed in everyday civilian life. At the time, benefits included low-cost home mortgages, low-cost loans to start businesses, and some form of unemployment payments for up to one year after leaving the military. The GI Bill also provided educational assistance in the form of cash payments for tuition for colleges, universities, or vocational training programs. By the time the program officially ended in 1956, it had provided educational benefits to more than 2.2 million veterans, and its legacy lives on in the Post-9/11 GI Benefit Bill.

1. What is the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The Post-9/11 GI Benefit Bill, created in 2008, offers an updated version of the educational benefits available to WWII veterans. The bill is designed to benefit veterans and active military members whose service began after September 10, 2001. The goal is to make higher education and vocational training a viable option for servicemen and women.

2. Who qualifies to receive benefits?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are available to any service member who has served at least 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001, and has been discharged due to a service-related disability, or a soldier who served 90 aggregate days after September 10, 2001, and was released with an honorable discharge. However, the benefit amount for each veteran or soldier depends on the amount of time served:

  • 36 cumulative months = 100 percent benefit
  • 30 continuous days (discharged due to service-related injury) = 100 percent benefit
  • 30 cumulative months = 90 percent benefit
  • 24 cumulative months = 80 percent benefit
  • 18 cumulative months = 70 percent benefit
  • 12 cumulative months = 60 percent benefit
  • 6 cumulative months = 50 percent benefit
  • 90 aggregate days = 40 percent benefit

As an additional benefit for soldiers who have served at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve another four, the educational benefits can be transferred to a spouse. After 10 years, the benefits can be transferred to any dependent including children.

3. What does the Post-9/11 GI Bill pay for?

If you are eligible, the VA will pay tuition and fees directly to the institution you are attending for up to 36 months. This includes all public school in-state tuition. The Post-9/11 GI Bill will also pay for vocational and technical training, apprenticeships programs, licensing and certification, national testing programs, flight training programs, correspondence training, and tutorial assistance.

In addition to tuition and fees, eligible veterans and soldiers also receive a monthly living stipend averaging $1,368 and a book-and-supply stipend of up to $1,000 (the amount is dependent upon credit hours). If attending school requires you to move more than 500 miles, you are also eligible for a $500 relocation stipend. If the tuition fees for your chosen college or university surpass the maximum benefit ($53,028), you may be eligible for additional funding under the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is available to veterans interested in attending schools that are out of state or over the maximum benefit payout. Under this service, a university and the VA join together to cover the extra tuition for eligible soldiers.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill will not pay for study abroad programs. Additionally, you cannot request benefits to pay off student loans.

4. How long do the benefits last?

The benefits will provide up to 36 months of education or approved training for the service member or veteran. Generally, veterans can use their benefits for up to 15 years after leaving the service. Rules and regulations involving limits on transfer of benefits can be found on the VA website.

5. What happens in the event of a government shutdown?

In light of recent events, it is understandable that many veterans are concerned about receiving benefits in the event of a government shutdown.

During the recent shutdown, the VA was forced to furlough 8,000 employees. Though educational benefits were not immediately affected by the government shutdown, there were fears that if the shutdown continued, the benefits—and other VA programs—would not have enough funds or active staff members to continue to function at their normal capacity. The shutdown ended before the VA was forced to face those decisions.

In the event of a future shutdown, some colleges will cover the short-term costs of tuition and the Department of Defense will be responsible for finding funding.

Though funding was briefly stopped due to sequestration for the programs serving the Army, Air Force and Marines, Congress reinstated funding earlier this year.