VA Provides New Online Tool to Research GI Bill Benefits

New VA Online Tool

By Debbie Gregory.

On February 4, 2014, the VA launched a new online tool on their site that is the newest improvement to assist Veterans in using their education benefits. From the VA.gov website’s Education and Training Portal, Veterans can access the new GI Bill Comparison Tool. The new feature allows Vets to view their options for using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Since it launched in 2009, the Post-9/11 GI has been utilized by more than 1 million Veterans. There have been some modifications from the original bill that was drafted in 2008. And while still not entirely perfect, the Post-9/11 GI Bill remains the most comprehensive and most generous Veteran education benefit that our country’s Veterans have ever enjoyed.
Along with improvements and modifications to the benefit itself, the VA has initiated methods and policies to help Veterans obtain and use their Post-9/11 GI Bill. These methods include allowing online registration and the implementation of the Yellow Ribbon Program.
To use the tool, Veterans enter their eligibility percentage and their military status, most likely Veteran or National Guard/Reserves, using convenient dropdown menu choices. After that, they would begin typing in the name of the school that they wish to research. An auto-finish feature will provide a list of schools that match. The choice would be made by simply clicking on the school’s name,  and then reading the data that the tool provides.
Using this information, the Comparison Tool provides Veterans with the amount of tuition that the GI Bill will cover, the amount of Monthly Allowance for Housing (MAH) the student will receive while enrolled at that school, and the amount of book stipend that the Veteran student will receive at that school, through the benefit that he or she has earned.
The next portion of the Comparison Tool informs Veterans about a school’s “Veteran Indicators.” The tool will tell the Veteran if their potential college, university or vocational school meets the “Principles of Excellence” guidelines in order to receive federal funding, and whether it is a Yellow Ribbon School. It also tells the Veteran how many students attend that particular school through Veteran education benefits.  This can be a very useful component, as it helps to inform Veterans how adept their perspective schools are at serving and administering to Veteran and military dependent students.
The last portion of the Comparison Tool is comprised of ‘School Indicators, Non-Veteran Specific.” This details the school’s statistics for graduation rates, student loan default rates and median borrowing. These stats can be extremely helpful in figuring out how well former students from that institution fare after they leave the campus.
The new tool doesn’t change or improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill itself. But it does improve the way that Veteran students can find the school that is best for them. We always look forward to newer and better ways that the government, as well as Veteran organizations and groups, think of to serve and support Veterans. This new Comparison Tool is definitely a useful addition to how Veterans are informed about their Veteran education benefits.