The Post-9/11 GI Bill Explained
Brad Hennings: Good afternoon. This is Brad Hennings with Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. I’m joined by Bethany Cook, a VA accredited claims agent here at CCK. And we’re here today to talk a little bit about the Post-9/11 GI Bill and a little bit of an explanation about that program. Again, please always feel free to visit us on our website at cck-law.com. Please contact us through the website or the phone number that’s listed there if you have any questions or concerns or need any assistance with your claim.
So, we’re here today, Bethany, to talk a little bit about the GI Bill which is very famous. Certainly, after World War II it was extremely well-known. Many of those veterans came back and were able to go to college and earn a degree and then get good jobs, support their families. It helps support the post-World War II boom in the economy. So, now there are two GI bill programs currently, the Post-9/11 and Montgomery GI Bill, but today we’re going to mostly cover the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Can you talk a little bit about some of the differences between the two? Or the main difference, at least?
Bethany Cook: Sure. So, the Post-9/11 GI Bill came into effect after 9/11. It kind of took over for a lot of what the Montgomery GI Bill was doing. But generally, in order to qualify under the Montgomery GI Bill, you have to elect that when you first enter the military, so you would know if you’re getting the Montgomery GI Bill because you would’ve been paying $100 a month for the first 12 months of your active duty service. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a little different, you don’t pay for it while you’re in the military, you don’t have to elect it, you’re eligible once you get out. But generally speaking, the eligibility requirements for the Post-9/11 GI Bill are a little similar, you would’ve had to serve 90 days on active duty on or after September 11th, 2001 or you would’ve had to receive a purple heart on or after September 11th, 2001 and were honorably discharged after any amount of service. Beyond that, there’s a little additional requirement that you can meet including 30 days continuous active duty service as well as being honorably discharged with a service-connected disability, you can also be a dependent of a veteran who meets those requirements, a veteran would just have to elect to transfer those benefits to a dependent. But the Post-9/11 GI Bill also called Chapter 33, it has changed a little bit and we’ll talk about that a little bit later with the Forever GI Bill which came into effect back in 2017.
Brad: So, let’s go back for a second and can you talk a little bit, Bethany, about what generally is the GI bill?
Bethany: Sure. So, as Brad was saying, the first GI bill came into effect after World War II, 1944. It was a way for veterans returning from World War II to get an education, job training, benefits that would allow them to obtain a position outside of the military. The GI Bill since then, the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, they are different but they have the same purpose. They’re a way for a veteran to get compensation that will allow them to attend college or get job training once they are out of active duty military service.
Brad: Can you give us an idea of a little bit of what kind of programs are covered by Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Bethany: Sure. So the big one is probably college, a veteran can use the GI Bill to go to in-state university and the GI Bill will cover that full amount. You can also use it to cover up to $23,671 at a private institution, you can also use it to get vocational training, you can use it for apprenticeships, you can even get entrepreneurship training as well as flight training, tutorial assistance as well as licensing and certification reimbursement.
Brad: So, in addition to all of those different things and an undergraduate education, is it correct to say that you can also potentially use that money for graduate education, like a master’s degree or a law degree or a medical degree?
Bethany: Yes, that is correct. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill you just have to use these benefits within the first 15 years after you were discharged or if you were discharged on or after January 1st, 2013 then these benefits never expire, you can use them forever.
Brad: So, let’s talk about what exactly is the benefit, you talked a little bit about the cap for private schools but let’s talk about the rest of it.
Bethany: Sure. So, the GI Bill if you are using it for a college education, the Post-9/11 GI Bill does get paid directly to the school for tuition as well as fees, but in addition to that benefit, a veteran can also get a monthly housing allowance as well as reimbursement for books and costs up to $1,000 per semester. The monthly housing allowance is a little different, a veteran has a different amount of allowance per month depending on where they live as well as what level of the GI Bill they’re qualifying under. If you qualify for the maximum amount of the GI Bill which is 36 months then you get compensated the full amount for the monthly housing allowance but if you’re getting a smaller percentage of the GI Bill then your monthly housing allowance would be impacted as well.
Brad: So, let’s talk a little bit about that, you brought up about different levels of reimbursement or different levels of GI Bill compensation, so what is this time in service versus the GI Bill benefit amount, can you talk about that?
Bethany: Yes, sure. So, with the GI Bill, again, as Brad was saying it’s dependent on the amount of time that you served in the military. So under the Forever GI Bill if a veteran served 90 days to six months then they will qualify for 50% of the GI Bill benefit, whereas if they served six to 12 months then they would get 60% and then with 12 months or more of service that’s when you would qualify for 100% 36 months of the GI Bill benefit.
Brad: So, the one-year time in-service is really the key to get the maximum benefit?
Brad: Okay. So, it’s my understanding there are some additional benefits for science, technology, engineering or math fields that they may qualify for additional benefits, can you speak about that?
Bethany: Sure. So, if a veteran is training in the science, technology, engineering or math STEM fields, then a veteran may qualify for an additional scholarship program called The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Program and this is really dependent on a veteran having exhausted their original 36 months of GI Bill benefits. If you do exhaust that then this scholarship program will allow a veteran to apply for up to $30,000 in additional benefits. But unlike the original 36 months which can be transferred to a dependent, this scholarship cannot be transferred to dependents, the veteran has to use it.
Brad: That sounds like a really powerful additional scholarship that’s potentially available for veterans. So, looking at all this, do these benefits expire at any point, the ability to use this, how does that work?
Bethany: So, this was something that was impacted by the Forever GI Bill which was signed back in 2017, so what that did is it allowed a veteran who is discharged after January 1st, 2013, these benefits won’t expire for them, however, if a veteran was discharged prior to that January 1st, 2013 date then these benefits do have to get used within 15 years of the veteran being discharged from the military.
Brad: So, it’s my understanding you have to use all the benefits within the 15 years or you’ll lose whatever is left if you haven’t used them, let’s say if you’ve used a small portion, 15 years comes and goes then you can’t get anymore, is that right?
Bethany: Yes. And that’s, again, if you were discharged before January 1st, 2013.
Brad: Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit about what’s the process for applying for these GI Bill benefits if I’m a veteran.
Bethany: Sure. So, how to apply for the benefits, the VA actually does have a very helpful website that you can log into and they have a GI Bill comparison tool that a veteran can input their information and it will give you information on the specific benefits you would be eligible for but there are a few different ways that you can actually apply for those benefits, one would be using the VA’s eBenefits web portal. Another way would be calling the VA and requesting that the form be sent to you, and they can mail that form to you and then you can mail that into the regional office, you can also do this in person at your local regional office or with the help of a VA accredited representative.
Brad: And that’s a really great point just to tag onto what Bethany is saying, and that is, anytime you are dealing with VA benefits there are parts of the process that can get very complicated so please don’t be shy and visit a veteran service organization like our partners with the Disabled American Veterans or DAV, a VA accredited attorney or a VA accredited agent to help walk you through the process to ensure that all your rights are being preserved throughout the application process. So, let’s talk a little bit about transferring these Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Bethany: Sure, so we’ve touched on a little bit, a veteran can transfer their GI Bill benefits to a qualifying dependent, either a spouse or a dependent child. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, these benefits can be transferred either while a veteran is on active duty or using a transfer of enlistment with the Department of Defense. So, in order to transfer GI Bill benefits, you have to have completed at least six years of service on the date your request is approved and have agreed to add four more years of service, or you have completed at least 10 years of service on the date your request is approved but you can’t commit to adding four more years of service because of either policy or statute.
And beyond that, the dependent has to have enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System known as DEERS, if those things are true in your case then you can transfer these benefits to spouses or children, spouses may use the GI Bill benefit right away. They can also use the benefit while the veteran is on active duty or after they’ve separated from active duty but the spouse does not qualify for the monthly housing allowance while the veteran remains on active duty service. And they can use the benefit for up to 15 years after the veteran is discharged. It’s a little different with children, children may start to use the benefit only after the veteran has finished 10 years of service and they can use while the veteran is on active duty or after separation of service. And unlike with a spouse, a child is eligible for the monthly housing allowance even while the veteran is on active duty. The only caveat is that a dependent doesn’t have to use the benefit within 15 years after the veteran’s separation but they cannot use the benefit after the child turns 26.
Brad: So, if the dependent that receives the veteran’s GI bill benefits dies can those benefits be transferred to another living dependent?
Bethany: So, this is also something that changed under the Forever GI Bill, before that bill if a dependent passed away while using the GI Bill benefits then it couldn’t be transferred but if you do qualify under the Forever GI Bill, so you were discharged after that January 1st, 2013 date, if a dependent using the GI Bill benefits passes away then they can be transferred to a different eligible dependent.
Brad: These rules seem somewhat complex, particularly with a transfer as well as some of the eligibility, do you have any suggestions or sort of final words on ways to navigate that complexity?
Bethany: So, like Brad was saying before, I definitely recommend going to a regional office seeing if you can find a member of a service organization, the VA’s website also does provide that really helpful tool that can get into the specifics of what benefits you might be eligible for. And beyond that, it’s important to know that even calling the VA’s 1-800 number they should be able to answer a question that you have about what forms you might need as well as what benefits you might be entitled to in your specific circumstances.
Brad: Well, thank you, Bethany. I think what all this really leads us to learn is that it is a complicated process, or can be a complicated process, but these are incredibly powerful benefits for veterans because it can allow them the kind of training or education that they require after they left the military, so we strongly encourage any veterans who may be eligible to investigate this because it really is a fabulous program for veterans to take advantage of. With that being said, do you have any last words or parting thoughts, Bethany, about the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Bethany: I’ll just reiterate what Brad said, these benefits can be really helpful, it’s important to know if you are eligible for them so you can use them while you are still eligible to use them as well as if you do have any dependents who might want to go to college or private training, these benefits can be a really great way for veterans to have resources once they’re back from the military and find something to do moving forward.
Brad: And that’s true, even if the veterans already are educated or don’t have a need for these benefits, they can then pass them on to their spouses or their children which can be a tremendous value to their children.
Well, with that this is, again, this is Brad Hennings and Bethany Cook, we’re here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick, we thank you for joining us today for a discussion about the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Please come visit us at our website at cck-law.com particularly if you have any questions or comments. We’re also on Facebook and a number of other social media platforms. But with that and for Bethany, we thank you all and we hope you have a great rest of your day.
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