Post 9/11 GI Bill Unknown BenefitsUpdated: December 23, 2022
The Post 9/11 GI Bill® or Forever GI Bill provides financial support to individuals who qualify for an education towards a Graduate or Undergraduate degree program. However, you may ALSO utilize this benefit for non-college degree programs, apprenticeships, licensing, and many other non-traditional educational formats. Below is a list of the many diverse educational opportunities available beyond a Graduate or Undergraduate degree program under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Non-College Degree Program (NCD) – Vocational/Technical Training
- Automotive Diagnostics
- Barber/Beautician School
- Bible College
- Computer Training
- Cosmetology School
- Culinary College
- Dog Trainer
- EMT Certification
- Fire Academy
- Gemological Institute of America
- HVAC Certification
- Interior Design
- Massage Therapy
- Maritime Institute
- Occupational Training
- Truck Driving/School
- Vocational Schools
Automotive Training Programs
One of the most common technical training/non-degree programs that you will see advertised from on-base to Veteran career fairs is in the automotive field. For jobs from trucking to mechanic, many make it possible to transfer your military certifications to the civilian sector- saving you time and money. Make sure that the program you are interested in is accredited and licensed. You can find several VA-approved automotive programs on the VA’s website under their GI Bill comparison tool. Again, what is important to note is that some of these schools can be predatory toward Veterans – so please do not plan on reimbursement from the VA and check to make sure they accept the GI Bill and are licensed BEFORE you begin.
On-The-Job and Apprenticeship Training
- Builder or Contractor
- Department of Corrections/Prisons
- Department of Homeland Security/Office of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Department of Parks and Recreation
- Customs and Border Protection
- Electrical Trade
- FAA (Federal Air and Aviation)
- Highway Patrol
- Hotel Management
- Social Security Administration
- Union Plumber/ Pipefitter/Steamfitter
- United States Marshals Service
Based on participating employers. Search the VA list here.
Flight training is one of the really unique and fun ways that you can utilize your education benefits. A few things to keep in mind: You can use GI Bill benefits for vocational flight training (such as technical certifications at an airfield) or a bachelor’s degree program at a college with an aviation program and follow the same process you would when enrolling for other types of courses. If you do attend a separate vocational flight school, make sure that it is an FAA Part 141 certified school. Just like any other courses you enroll in using your education benefits, funding needs to be set up IN THE BEGINNING. The GI Bill is NOT a reimbursement program
- B747-400 Qualification
- Dual Engine Qualification
- Flight Engineer
- Flight School
- Helicopters Certification
- Rotary Wing Qualification
Licensing & Certification Programs
- Attorney’s License
- Barber License
- C++ Certification
- Cardiac Medicine or Surgery Certification
- Certified Fitness Trainer or Spinning Instructor
- CISCO Specialist
- Contractor’s License
- Cosmetology License
- Certified Safety Professional
- Oracle specialist (many available)
- Personal Fitness Trainer
- Pharmacist Licensure Exam
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam
- Real Estate Broker License
- Veterinary Law Exam
The VA will pay up to $2,000 for each test even if you fail! The VA will pay for these tests if you need them in order to secure employment. They will not continually approve you to accumulate paid-for certifications and licenses to collect like chest candy. Note: if you are using the Veteran Rehabilitation education benefit, many of these tests are built into the program already. How you utilize your VA education benefits is dependent on which one you are using.
National Testing Programs
Approved National Testing Programs: VERY important to note for national tests- this is one of the only exceptions where the VA will REIMBURSE you- not pay up front. They MAY reimburse you for the cost of registration, the test itself, and any administration fees. Please consult with the VA directly or your school liaison to see if you qualify for reimbursement.
- LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
- GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
- GRE (Graduate Record Exam)
- PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test)
- SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)
- AP (Advanced Placement Exam)
- CLEP (College-Level Examination Program)
- ACT (American College Testing Program)
- ECE (Excelsior College Examinations)
- MAT (Miller Analogies Test)
- MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests)
- DAT (Dental Admissions Test)
- OAT (Optometry Admissions Testing)
If you are interested in starting your own business, the VA will pay for programs offered by the SBDC (Small Business Development Center). Individual courses must be approved by the VA. Additionally, the Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), operated by the SBDC, offer many free programs for military and Veterans including:
- Pre-business Plan Workshops
- Business Plan Preparation
- Comprehensive Feasibility Analysis
- Entrepreneurial Training and Counseling
- Concept Assessments
- Personalized Mentorship
- Other Business Developmental Services
What is important to note, is that these resources are free and can be a great resource to augment your GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation degree program. They can also be useful for when you finish your degree and seek to start your own business. Like most -if not all- Veteran related programs, be prepared to show your DD214 and applicable proof of Veteran status. The VBOCs also have a Veteran specific small business loan program. Although this too can be a great resource, be mindful that it is a LOAN, not a grant and to think critically when approached with programs that are targeted but not free.
Correspondence training is lessons conducted through the mail and provides for an allotted amount of time to complete. This is different from Distance Learning which typically is online. This can be a good option if you live in a rural area. In general, taking classes online can be a better utilization of your benefits, however it is important to note this is an option. This is also another benefit that is a REIMBURSEMENT. For Veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you will be reimbursed 100%. For those utilizing other GI Bill benefits, your reimbursement is percentage-based and changes. Some dependents may also qualify to use correspondence training. Please consult the VA on a situation basis for specific utilization of correspondence training.
Independent and Distance Learning
This program is different then if you are enrolled in classes that would normally be in-person and are being conducted online. Independent and Distance Learning are 100% home study programs regardless of current affairs. Important points to keep in mind when using this type of education option:
- Make sure the program is accredited and approved by the VA
- The VA pays these programs directly, it is not a reimbursement program
- If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA will pay a 50% housing allowance based on a national average. This percentage can change, and it is important to consult the VA on a situational basis.
Conditions apply but necessary tutoring is available as a supplement to those receiving educational assistance. Typically, to qualify, the student must be receiving VA educational assistance at half-time or greater rate and have a deficiency in a subject. Many colleges and universities have free tutoring available. Check with your Veteran Services Office or your school’s Disabilities Services.
You can use your GI Bill for some foreign study options. When applying for this education benefit note that foreign study is different than doing a semester abroad program through the current US-based school you are enrolled in. For those Veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your housing costs will also be covered. Contact the foreign school directly to see if it is accredited and recognized by the VA. You can also use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to check if your chosen foreign program is already enrolled with the VA. In some cases, dependents may also qualify for this benefit.
All training programs must be approved for GI Bill benefits. Visit the Post 9/11 GI Bill site for more information. You can also search for participating employers or institutions here.
Tia Christopher is a proud US Navy Veteran. Christopher’s writing has focused on explaining military benefits in plain language and helping fellow service members transition from the military. Christopher was recognized in 2013 by the White House as a Woman Veteran Champion of Change.