6 Ways To Make the Most of Your Post-9/11 GI Bill Before You Go to College

6 Ways To Maximize Your Post-9/11 GI Bill Before Starting College

By Beth Dumbauld

As a military veteran who served on active duty after 9/11, you’ve earned military veterans education benefits that are intended to take you where you want to be in this next chapter of your life. The challenge, however, is maximizing those benefits.

As a military veteran, you have proven yourself capable, decisive, motivated, and able to make critical decisions in less-than-optimal conditions. To make the right decisions for yourself regarding your education, you will need to tap into the skills and qualities that allowed you to be successful in the military. These qualities can take you efficiently and effectively where you want to go in your life after the military.

You have many educational options. Take the time to find an educational path which will best match your post-military aspirations. In fact, one of the things you can take advantage of in your post military life is the abundance of information educational programs offer prospective students. Read up and become informed. Know your goals. Make a plan. And keep in mind – the best time to make the most of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is prior to starting the clock on benefit use.

Here are 6 ways to maximize your benefits before you go to college.

1. Have a clear vision:

Success in the military required you to know your job, to know your mission, to work a plan, and work your role in that plan with the utmost of integrity and skill. You will need the same sense of purpose post-military as well. The get-it-done attitude which shaped your military life is particularly useful when mixed with a clear vision for your goals post-military. If you are clear on what your goals are and what you want out of your education, as a military veteran, you can make it happen. As you conduct your due diligence on post-secondary schools, programs, and locations, it’s essential to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind.

Take a hard look at your goal requirements. Each field of study comes with its own set of prerequisites and skill sets. Interested in the health sciences or perhaps engineering? Can you get what you need from a two-year program? Does starting out at a community college or taking classes online make sense before you enroll full-time? Are you just looking to fulfill a few prerequisite courses before moving on to a four-year bachelors program? Or are you a veteran going back to college to finish schooling that was interrupted by your tour of duty? Do you want to stay in your home state or are you open to moving? Knowing what the requirements are for your particular area of interest can help you get you where you want to be for less money and in less time.

Also, take a look at your scheduling requirements. How important is class flexibility to you? If it’s very important, then you should look into programs available online. Perhaps a hybrid approach will work best in your situation. You can take some of your classes online, such as prerequisite courses, and take other, more in-depth courses on campus. There are many leading online colleges and universities that are “military friendly” towards active duty military and veteran students, including American InterContinental University (AIU), Ashford University, Capella University, Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College, Kaplan University, and Western Governors University. A post-secondary education doesn’t have to look a particular way. It just has to work for you.

Finally, take a look at your geographical requirements. Is a move in your future? If you know that where you start your college path may not be where you finish, you want to be sure about the transferability of your credits earned. Talk with an advisor at your current school and more importantly, an advisor at the school you’d like to transfer into – to make sure you can transfer your college credits and how. Get the process and guarantee of transferability in writing before you needlessly waste any of your GI benefits on classes you’ll end up having to repeat at a different school.