The Post 9/11 GI Bill, also known as the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 made changes to the previous version of the GI Bill which provided educational benefits to active duty military members and veterans. Through the original GI Bill, military members could receive up to 36 months of college tuition and one year of unemployment for up to ten years after being discharged from the military. While some changes and additions had been made to the original GI Bill® since its adoption in 1944, the Post 9/11 GI Bill introduced significant changes and new programs to the GI Bill.
Congress approves fix to protect GI Bill benefits due to schools shifting to online classes due to the coronavirus.
Eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
The version of the GI Bill that you or your dependents qualify for depends solely on when you were last discharged or released from active duty.
You qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill if:
- you served at least 90 days on active duty after Sept. 11, 2001, and were discharged before Jan. 1, 2013.
- you received a Purple Heart after Sept. 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged.
- you served for at least 30 continuous days on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability.
- you are a dependent child who had benefits transferred to you.
If you were last discharged or released from active duty on or after Jan. 1, 2013—you qualify for the Forever GI Bill.
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military members, veterans, and qualifying dependents can receive a variety of educational benefits.
Here are the primary benefits offered:
- Tuition and fees: Depending on how long you served, you can get up to 100% of the cost of public, in-state tuition, and fees. There is an annual cap if you want to go to a private or foreign school.
- Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA): You have to be enrolled more than one-half time (12 credits is usually considered full-time) to qualify for a monthly housing allowance (MHA). MHA is based on the campus location where you physically attend the majority of your classes and DoD’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate for an E-5 with dependents. The final factor in how much MHA you get is based on the percentage of training time. For example, if you are taking 12 credits, you’ll get 100% of the MHA. If you’re taking 7 credits, you’ll get 60% of the applicable MHA.
- Money for books and supplies: You can get up to $1,000 per school year.
Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefit Tiers
Tuition and Monthly Housing Allowance payments are based on the amount of creditable active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001.
- 100%: At least 36 cumulative months *
- 100%: At least 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability *
- 90%: At least 30 cumulative months *
- 80%: At least 24 cumulative months **
- 70%: At least 18 cumulative months **
- 60%: At least 12 cumulative months **
- 50%: At least 6 cumulative months **
- 40%: 90 aggregate days **
* Does include Entry Level or Skills Training time
** Does NOT include Entry Level or Skills Training time
If you are discharged for disability after at least 30 days of active duty you automatically receive the 100% benefit tier.
Can I use my GI Bill Benefits for things other than earning a college degree?
You can use your GI Bill benefits in many ways to advance your education and training. Here are a few programs that qualify for GI Bill benefits:
- Vocational/technical training and non-college degree programs
- Veterans technology education courses (VET TEC)
- Tutorial assistance
- On-the-job training and apprenticeships
- Entrepreneurship training
- Flight training
- Reimbursement for licensing or certification exam fees
You can also earn while you learn through co-op training and work-study, and learn from home through correspondence courses and distance learning.
How Long Do I Have to Use the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
If you left the service before Jan. 1, 2013, your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits expire 15 years after your last separation date from active service. You must use all of your benefits by that time. Sadly, you’ll have “to use them, or lose them.”
Can I transfer my benefits to someone else?
If you choose not to use your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits or only used only a portion, you can transfer them to a spouse or other dependent. You have to have at least six years of military service before you can transfer your benefits, and agree to an additional four years of service. You can give benefits to one family member, or split it between multiple family members.
The History of the GI Bill
The original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944 by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was named after American Legion National Commander Harry W. Colmery, a champion for veteran’s benefits. Over the years, the GI Bill has gone through many changes but has always had one purpose—to provide educational benefits to qualified members and their spouses.
Veteran’s today owe their educational benefits to one man, Harry W. Colmery. Colmery is widely considered the principal architect of the GI Bill. He was a Kansas attorney and served as a pilot during World War I. Because of his experiences leaving the service with little help in planning for his future, Colmery vowed to help World War II veterans make the transition to a successful future.
Colmery spent five months in Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, hand-writing what eventually became the GI Bill of 1944. The bill granted war veterans a collection of rights. His proposal was the model for all GI Bills to come. Colmery led a life of service to his country, serving as the National Commander of the American Legion and fighting for veteran’s rights. In the spirit of creating a brighter future for generations of veterans to come, the GI Bill is rightly named after Harry W. Colmery.
Additional VA Education Programs
Yellow Ribbon Program
The Yellow Ribbon Program can help you pay for out-of-state tuition, private school, or graduate school tuition that the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. You have to meet certain criteria to be eligible, and your school has to participate in the program.
If you’re the child or surviving spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001, you may qualify for the Fry Scholarship. You’ll get 36 months of benefits, including money tuition, housing, books, and supplies.
Purple Heart Recipients
If you were awarded a Purple Heart and was honorably discharged on or after Sept. 11, 2001, you may be entitled to Post-9/11GI Bill benefits at the 100-percent benefit level for up to 36 months, no matter how long you served.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News