Reviewed by Josianne Campbell Those who serve in the military enjoy benefits that can help them, and their family members, get an education. While these benefits can be complicated, the bottom line is that you can use your veterans education benefits to get a college degree. The first step is to apply online, in person, at your school, or by mail.
What Are Your Veterans Education Benefits?
There are several different types of education benefits veterans can apply for, depending on the dates of service. Here are the basics:
- Post 911 GI Bill – this gives anyone honorably discharged after serving an aggregate 90 days after September 11, 2001, 36 months of education benefits that may include tuition and fees, books and supplies, and housing allowance. It may also apply to certain certifications, tests, or apprenticeships or on-the-job training. These benefits are transferable to your spouse and children and generally must be used within 15 years of your last active duty date.
- Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty – also called Chapter 30, these benefits can be applied to college, vocational training, on-the-job training, flight training, and national exams and certifications. You must have a GED or high school diploma and an honorable discharge.
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program – (REAP) or Chapter 1067 provides 36 months of educational assistance to those service members in Reserve or National Guard units who have been called to active duty in or after September 11, 2001, and served at least 90 days active duty during a contingency operation. Typically, these benefits must be used within ten years.
- Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Educational Assistance Program – (VEAP) or Chapter 32 is available to those making contributions from military pay before April 1, 1987. Contributions are matched by the government at a 2:1 ratio. The duration of the assistance is based on the frequency and amount of contributions. Any contributions not used within ten years will be refunded.
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance – (DEA) or Chapter 35 will pay for educational services of a child or spouse of a service member who is either fully and permanently disabled, missing in action, or deceased (either KIA or deceased for any reason after disability). Chapter 35 provides 45 months of assistance, between 18 – 26 for a child and for a duration of 10 years for a spouse.
All chapters require the service member to have been honorably discharged or have a service-connected disability to be eligible to use education benefits. Coverage for tuition, books and housing varies depending on the chapter, so check with the Veteran’s Administration or your school’s VA Certifying Official to be sure of your benefit details. Your spouse and children may be eligible as well. They can apply for tuition assistance using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program and may be eligible for benefits using other chapters if you included them when you enrolled for your benefits.
What Kind of Training Does My Veterans Education Benefits Pay For?
According to the Veteran’s Administration, the following training and education programs are permitted within the various chapters:
- Correspondence training
- Cooperative training
- Entrepreneurship training
- Flight training
- Independent and distance learning
- Institutions of higher learning undergraduate and graduate degrees
- Licensing and certification reimbursement
- Vocational/technical training, non-college degree programs
- National testing reimbursement
- On-the-job training
- Tuition assistance top-up
- Tutorial assistance
- Vocational/technical training
How to Make Your Education Benefits Go Further
College classes can be expensive, so stretch your veterans education benefits as far as you can by taking online college courses. Pay attention to tuition and other rates and make wise choices so your benefits will serve you well. For example, by enrolling in a community college to earn an associate degree online, you can transfer to a four-year university to get your bachelor’s degree or even a master’s in the time permitted by your benefit. Taking college classes online can save time as well as money, so you earn your degree quickly and apply your benefit to the next level degree or pass the benefit along to your family. We salute our veterans who serve the United States every day, whether as a full-time soldier or an able reservist. We’re proud to offer you high quality, cost-effective college courses that transfer to many colleges and universities, and we look forward to working with you on your educational journey.