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Get VA Education Benefits

Navigating through your educational benefits can be overwhelming. There are several things you need to know to maximize the use of your available benefits. While no one can make the decision for you, this section provides the information you need to make the best choice for your specific situation.
If you have previously used education benefits, you may have remaining entitlement under the Montgomery GI Bill. If you switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill before you exhaust all of your current benefit, you will only receive the amount of months you have left under your current benefit. Depending on that number of months, you may want to exhaust your current entitlement before applying for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. You may then be eligible for up to 12 additional months of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

If you have never used your educational benefits, or you are trying to decide whether to switch to the Post-9/11 GI, you should answer the following questions:

Benefit Programs Administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs

The following is a list of the various educational benefits offered through VA, and the basic eligibility criteria for each.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33 Basic Eligibility Criteria

  • Served on active duty after 09/10/01:
    • Served for an aggregate period of at least 90 days
    • Served at least 30 continuous days and received a disability discharge
  • Army & Air National Guard members with the following service after 09/10/01:
    • Full time service in the National Guard for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing or training
    • Activations in support of a national emergency under section 502(f) of title 32
The length of qualifying active duty service determines the percentage of your eligibility tier (link takes you to chart below).

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Chapter 30
  • entered active duty after June 30, 1985
  • pay reduced by $100 a month first 12 months
  • Continuously served 2 or 3 years depending on enlistment contract
  • Honorable Discharge/High School Diploma
  • You need to be within 10 years of the date of your last discharge
The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve, Chapter 1606
  • First entered Guard/Reserves after June 30, 1985
  • Must have a minimum 6 year obligation (Must be actively drilling to use benefits)
  • You retain eligibility if you were discharged from reserve service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct.
  • Completed your initial active duty for training
  • Have a high school diploma or GED before applying for benefits
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), Chapter 1607
  • For Reservists called to active duty under a contingency operation after 09/01/01, and who served 90 continuous days or more
  • Pays a portion of the MGIB Active Duty rate depending on activation period
  • Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security establishes eligibility
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), Chapter 32
  • First entered active service between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985
  • Contributed funds to a VEAP account before April 1, 1987
  • Benefit amount depends on amount contributed
  • Honorable Discharge
  • You need to be within 10 years of the date of your last discharge
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess Program, Chapter 31
  • Service-connected disability rating of at least 10% or memorandum rating of 20% from the VA
  • You can use VR&E services 12 years from the latter of your date of separation from active military service, or date you were first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating
 If you think you meet VR&E requirements you should first determine any benefits to which you are entitled under Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment. Please go to this site for additional information.
Survivors & Dependents Assistance (DEA), Chapter 35
Must be the Son, Daughter or Spouse of: 
  • Veteran who died from a service connected disability
  • Died while having a service connected disability evaluated as permanent in nature
  • Is rated as 100% permanently and totally service connected disabled or
  • Was held captive as a POW or was MIA for more than 90 days
Education Assistance Test Program
  • First entered active duty after September 30, 1980, and before October 1, 1981
  • or before October 1, 1982, if entry was under a delayed enlistment contract signed between September 30, 1980, and October 1, 1981.
Please review this GI Bill pamphlet for more details:

National Call to Service
There is a three-tiered service requirement to qualify for incentives under the National Call to Service program:
  • First, after completion of initial entry training, individuals must serve on active duty in a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense for a period of 15 months.
  • After this, and without a break in service, these individuals must serve either an additional period of active duty as determined by the Secretary of Defense, or a period of 24 months in an active status in the Selected Reserve.
  • After completion of this period of service, and also, without a break in service, the remaining period of obligated service specified in the agreement will be served as follows:
    • On active duty in the armed forces
    • In the Selected Reserve
    • In the Individual Ready Reserve
    • In Americorps, or another domestic national service program jointly designated by the Secretary of Defense and the head of such a program
    • Any combination of the service referred to above may also be approved by the Secretary of the military department concerned pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense and specified in the agreement.
Choice of Incentives
  • Individuals who participate in this new program have a choice of incentives as follows:
  • Cash bonus of $5,000
  • Repayment of a qualifying student loan not to exceed $18, 000
  • Entitlement to allowance equal to the 3-year monthly chapter 30 rate for 12 months ($1,034 effective Oct 1, 2005)
  • Entitlement to allowance equal to fifty percent of the less than 3-year monthly chapter 30 rate for 36 months (Fifty percent of $840 effective Oct. 1, 2005)
  • Coordination with Montgomery GI Bill Benefits

Eligibility Tier

Post-9/11 Service
Percentage of Maximum Amount Payable
At least 36 cumulative months
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 30 cumulative months
(Includes Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 24 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 18 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 12 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
At least 6 cumulative months
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)
90 aggregate days
(Cannot include Entry Level or Skills Training time)

Types of training covered by VA educational benefits
  • Associate, Bachelor, or Graduate Degree
  • On-the-job training, Apprenticeship, Flight training, or Non-college degree training
  • License/Certification Tests
Beginning October 1, 2011, anyone with eligibility under the Post 9/11GI Bill will be eligible for this type of training. Before this date, you may only be able to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for on-the-job, apprenticeship, flight, or other non-college degree training if you have entitlement under another VA education program that covers such training.

Note: Programs at public institutions and private not-for-profit institutions are deemed approved. All other programs require approval by the State Approving Agency (SAA). You can find the SAA for the state you wish to attend school in here.


I've submitted my application

Once you have finished and sent in your application, three things will happen:

  1. The Regional Processing Office will process the application and determine your eligibility. If you are certain of your eligibility, do not delay in enrolling in classes.
  2. Your school will send its request to VA for tuition and fees, which will be paid directly to the school.

  3. Other benefits that you receive, like a monthly housing allowance, books & supplies stipend or rural benefit payment, will be paid directly to you through direct deposit to your bank account.

The amount of time it takes to process your application will depend on whether the VA needs more information to figure out what benefits you qualify for.

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