By Debbie Gregory.
Veteran students need to make use of their greatest asset when they return to school: the Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) GI Bill. This education benefit provides the largest investment in Veterans’ education that the nation has seen since World War II. The program will cover the entire cost of an undergraduate degree at any public university or college and many private schools too.
Need to know the basics? Here they are:
Qualifications: Student Veterans must have served 90 days on active duty since Sept. 10, 2001 or served 30 days and been discharged because of a service connected illness or injury. All users must have received an Honorable Discharge.
Living Allowances: A paid Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) based on the BAH rate for an E-5 with dependents in your school’s zip code. Veteran students must be enrolled as a full time student to receive full benefits. Part-time students will received a prorated living allowance based on the number of classes they are taking.
Book Stipend: $41.67 per credit hour, but no more than $1,000 per year is paid in a lump sum for each term. The stipend is intended to cover the cost of books, supplies, equipment and other educational fees.
Tuition payments: Payments are made directly to the school each term. The VA covers 100 percent of in-state tuition for public schools for undergraduate or graduate programs and $19,198.31 per year for private schools. The program offers a total of 36 months of education benefits, equal to four academic years.
National Guard and Reserve students: Service members in the National Guard and Reserves qualify for veteran education benefits as well, as long as they have served 90 days or more on active duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Active Guard Reservists and Guardsmen responding to national emergencies will also accumulate days toward that 90 day mark to become eligible. Training and training schools do not generally qualify for eligibility. With 90 days of service, these service members will qualify for 40 percent of tuition, books and living allowance benefits. That number increases as their active duty time increases. After 36 months of active duty time they are entitled to 100 percent of tuition, books and living allowances.
Send your spouse and kids to school: Already have your degree? Think your wife or kids would benefit more from the program? Give them your benefits. The Post 9/11 GI Bill allows benefits to be transferred to immediate family members. To qualify for the transfer, service members must qualify for the benefits themselves, served at least six years in the Active Duty, National Guard or Select Reserves, have their spouse or child enrolled in DEERS and agree to commit to four more years of service.