What is a GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility (COE)? This is a term you will find on college-oriented websites and college official sites such as the University of Maine and commonly refers to an official document from the Department of Veterans Affairs detailing a military member or veteran’s GI Bill benefits.
Statement of Benefits, Not COE
In general terms, the VA itself does not use the phrase “GI Bill Certificate Of Eligibility” or “COE” to describe these benefits statements. A COE is used in the Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan benefit program; the COE is used to establish that the service member is indeed eligible to apply for a VA mortgage loan and explains the veteran’s entitlement.
For VA home loans, the Certificate of Eligibility is an important part of establishing the borrower as an approved applicant (eligibility for the VA loan program does NOT automatically equal loan approval) who has served the minimum time in uniform.
But for GI Bill benefits, the so-called GI Bill Certificate Of Eligibility is referred to by the VA official site as a GI Bill Statement of Benefits. What is this statement and what does it tell the student and the school it is sent to?
GI Bill Basics
The GI Bill is a Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit for those who have served a qualifying amount of time in uniform as an active duty, Reserve, or National Guard member. The GI Bill may also be used, depending on the program (see below) by dependents and spouses who qualify and who have had benefits transferred to them by the service member or veteran.
GI Bill options include:
- Forever GI Bill
- Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill
- Reserve and Guard Montgomery GI Bill
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program
In the past, when GI Bill programs changed or had new options added, you would be required to commit to one version of the program or another with no going back once the commitment has been made.
Past versions of the GI Bill didn’t allow the kind of widespread transfer of GI Bill benefits from the service member to a dependent or spouse that we enjoy today; in the 21st century there are many options available.
The GI Bill Statement Of Benefits
When you sign up for education benefits with the VA, the Department of Veterans Affairs prepares a statement of benefits letter and mails it to you for your records and to submit to your chosen school.
Without the benefit letter, the school can’t commit to your enrollment the same way it can when students are paying for their education with other means–the statement of benefits allows the school to assume your tuition and fees will be paid for by your VA benefits without holding you personally to a payment deadline.
In other words, the statement of benefits shows your school’s admissions office that it’s OK to admit you even though you may not technically meet the payment deadlines of your institution. The school knows that money is coming and will note this on your file.
Getting Your GI Bill Statement Of Benefits
VA mails a paper copy of your benefits statement, but it is also available electronically via the following VA portals:
If you do not have an account with one of the above official sites, it will be necessary to create a login, password, and set up an account so you may access your GI Bill Statement of Benefits.
Obtaining a statement of benefits requires you to have applied for the GI Bill and be approved to use the program. Only then can you access the list of benefits–the VA has to generate it for you first.
Family members and dependents may not be able to directly request an electronic benefits statement of a service member online; call the VA Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 (888-GI-BILL-1) to get assistance in this area.
What Your GI Bill Statement of Benefits Tells You
There are some basic pieces of information the statement tells you and your school.
- Basic eligibility for GI Bill benefits
- Which GI Bill program you registered for
- How much GI Bill funding remains for your education or training
- How much time you have left to use these benefits, where applicable
What Is Required To Obtain And View A GI Bill Statement Of Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs will request address verification, but advises applicants that even if you have an award letter that does not accurately reflect your current address, you are still able to use your GI Bill.
Why You Can’t Find Your GI Bill Statement Of Benefits Online
You may have difficulty accessing a GI Bill Statement of Benefits if one or more of the following apply:
- You don’t qualify for the GI Bill program you signed up for
- You didn’t sign up for the education benefits you’re seeking a benefit statement for
- The name on the account you’re signed in with doesn’t exactly match the name on file
- The VA hasn’t finished processing the education benefits application – they often take up to 30 days
- VA benefit letters are not available electronically during scheduled downtime. The online lookup tool is available Sunday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.
If You Have Trouble Accessing Your Statement Of Benefits
Call the VA for help if you are having trouble accessing your benefit letters. Contact them at 844-698-2311.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
|GI Bill of Rights||Post 9/11 GI Bill Overview|
|Forever GI Bill||Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)|
|History of the GI Bill||Montgomery GI Bill For Selected Reserve Program|