The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1994 commonly called the GI Bill is an education benefit bill issued by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for members of active duty, US National Guard, SR and their families. GI Bill benefits are immense and were made to cover the educational or training costs for eligible veterans, their relatives and servicemen after retirement as a way of compensation for services rendered.
This bill has many programs, each of them differently administered depending on an individual’s eligibility and duty status. However, due to the vast amount of VA educational benefits associated with the Bill, navigating through the options can be quite the chore for newcomers.
There are many things to know before applying for VA GI Bill benefits and it is crucial that you follow the recommended steps to avoid problems with your veterans benefit claims. Listed below are five of the main facts you need to know about the GI bill benefits before you apply.
GI BILL IS NOT THE SAME AS FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID
The VA GI bill is not the same as FAFSA because it’s paid directly to the person eligible and not to the school. However, being a beneficiary of the GI bill means that you are also eligible for additional student loans, scholarships and are also entitled to federal education grants. Most schools will require you to sign a promissory note or apply for student loans to pay them directly, these loans can then be closed with your GI Bill payments.
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) programs offer extremely low-interest loans and grants but unlike the GI Bill, these programs are paid by the Department of Education through the school. However, both the GI Bill and Federal Student Aid are designed to assist you in meeting tuition costs, meaning that the remaining loan balance goes to you once the school has taken its share.
TIME FRAME OF GI BILL BENEFITS
Allowing career service members to transfer GI Bill benefits to family members has been a long-requested item among military advocacy groups. An individual has 15 years to claim GI bill benefits after separation from active service. It’s important to know that if you re-join active service within 90 days before the 15 years are up to your clock resets and you get another 15 years from your last discharge.
GI BILL BENEFITS CAN BE PAUSED AND CONTINUED AT WILL
You don’t have to remain in school once you apply for the GI Bill education benefits in order to enjoy the full financial support - the GI bill can actually be used for any period of time. You can take time off school, re-apply at a later date and still enjoy GI benefits in full. If used correctly, the Bill can see you through your bachelor’s degree and even onto your master’s degree, cooperative training or any other program.
THE TIME DESCRIPTION OF THE VA GIL BILL BENEFITS ARE NOT ALWAYS LITERAL
The length of time for which these benefits are granted to an individual varies according to when this person enlisted and entered active duty. Basically, a month of benefits from the GI Bill does not literally mean a month at all times. This Bill provides 36 months of benefits but this doesn’t to mean you only have a 36-month plan or that you are obligated to use it all in a 36-month period. The term “month” in relation to the VA GI Bill benefits is explained in two ways with the focus on both active duty applicants and veterans.
POST 9/11 GI BILL BENEFITS
This Bill provides eligible service members up to 36 months of education benefits. The time frame is literally “pay as you use”, so, for instance, if you attend classes for 30 days you have used 30 days’ worth of GI bill benefits and if you go for 15 days – that’s 15 days’ worth of benefits.
MONTGOMERY GI BILL BENEFITS
Veterans are charged one month of benefits for each month of full-time training. Individuals on active duty are literally charged monthly: it doesn’t matter how little tuition may cost - a number of months you’ve attended will be taken out of your 36 months of GI Bill benefits.
THE BILL PAYS ACCORDING TO YOUR NUMBER OF CREDITS AND THE AMOUNT OF ACTIVE DUTY SERVICE YOU HAVE
The two kinds of the GI Bill programs there are grant benefits according to several factors. The post 9/11 GI Bill pays based on the number of months an individual served on active duty and the number of credits attained. For individuals in public schools, the post 9/11 GI Bill will pay full tuition, grant monthly housing allowance and pay up to $1000 yearly for books. However, the housing allowance is granted based on your credit load and active duty service.
The Montgomery GI Bill bases its payment rates on many factors, the most important being your credit load - meaning that a full-time student gets more GI Bill benefits than a part-time student.
The VA GI bill benefits have different requirements and are granted differently based on eligibility of the applicant. Applying for the VA GI Bill benefits is the best way to determine your eligibility and it can be done on the VA’s official web page.