The Post 9/11 GI Bill® has helped a tremendous amount of service men and women and their families achieve their educational goals. With educational costs being as high as they are, programs such as the The Post 9/11 GI Bill can enable the service member to breathe a sigh of relief without having the financial hardships follow them that many students often do. The Department of Veteran Affairs lists the eligibility requirement as being:
Individuals who served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001 or were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability after serving 30 continuous days following Sept. 10, 2001.
Although there are a lot of frequently asked questions concerning the bill and its uses, one common question that is becoming more and a more recurrent is, “Can I use it toward an online degree?” Fortunately, the answer is YES! This applies towards not only the books and tuition but the monthly housing allowance as well. This is quite beneficial considering that the number of students attending an online college is certainly on the rise. This is not surprising considering that online schools offer many advantages. They propose faster completion options, lower costs, self-paced learning, and convenience. This educational option is particularly helpful for active duty members (and their families) who want to continue working towards their degree despite facing obstacles such as frequent moves and deployments.
If you are interested in pursuing an online degree and utilizing your GI Bill benefits, you can follow the same steps as if you were applying to a standard school or university:
- Choose a school that best accommodates your educational goals and meets the requirements provided by the Veterans Affairs. Most universities and schools are approved, however, the VA can provide you with the defining criteria.
- Complete and send in the Application for Education Benefits (VA Form 22-1990). After the VA receives your application it will take approximately 6-8 weeks for you to receive the Certificate of Enrollment.
- Once you receive the Certificate of Enrollment you must send it in to your institution’s certifying official or department. *Note: You should contact your school’s certifying official as soon as you decide on your institution and submit the VA Form 22-1990. You do not have to wait until you receive the official COE before you contact the official at your school. They will be able to verify your submission and get any remaining paperwork underway before the certificate is received. This will greatly expedite the process.
Once you have begun receiving benefits, a monthly verification of eligibility is required in order to maintain your benefits.
As with any new procedure or application, it may be a bit confusing or daunting to start the process. Please be assured that you can contact your base’s education office, Veterans Affairs, or your college’s veterans official to assist you.
The most important aspect is that you are proactive in obtaining your degree. Regardless of whether you choose an online route or a standard university plan, your degree will nonetheless be invaluable. So if online education works for you, rest assured your GI Bill will be waiting to accommodate you.
Danielle is a licensed professional counselor, a proud Air Force spouse and a grateful mother of three. She has served alongside her husband through his countless deployments, relocations and two squadron command positions. She greatly enjoys being a member of the community and is honored to support her fellow military spouses.