How to Access Your Veterans Education Benefits
The easiest way to apply for your benefits is to use the Veteran’s Online Application (VONAPP). If you cannot apply online, call 1-888-442-4551 to have an application form mailed to you. Depending on when, where and how long you served in the military, you may be eligible for more than one education benefits program. The Department of Veterans Affairs can help you compare benefits and determine which is best for you.
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Veterans Education Programs
Post-9/11 GI Bill
This program is also sometimes called the New GI Bill or the Post-9/11 Montgomery GI Bill. Veterans who have an honorable discharge and at least 90 days of service since September 10, 2001 can qualify for:
- Up to 100% of tuition and fee costs, depending on length of service
- A monthly housing allowance
- A books and supplies stipend
- College fund (or “kicker” payment), depending on rate of pursuit
- Rural benefit payment, depending on residence
Active duty military personnel are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance or books and supplies stipend.
Tuition and fee payments are made by the government directly to the veteran’s college or university. This is generally considered a big improvement over the Montgomery GI Bill, which required the student to pay tuition up front and then receive reimbursement at a later date.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers graduate and undergraduate degrees, but all training programs must be offered by a degree-granting institution of higher learning. This means that some vocational, technical and preparatory programs do not qualify. However, other military education benefits (such as the Montgomery GI Bill) do cover programs not offered by degree-granting institutions, and veterans who are eligible for these and the Post-9/11 GI Bill and can make a choice of which to receive. It is important to note that once this choice is made, it cannot be changed.
Yellow Ribbon Program
The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows degree-granting colleges and universities to help qualifying veterans pay tuition costs exceeding the GI Bill’s usual cap for graduate, private or out-of-state institutions. Under this arrangement, schools can volunteer to pay up to 50% of the additional tuition and fees, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will match them dollar-for-dollar. So attending an institution that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program means up to 100% of your tuition can be covered, even if that tuition is greater than the cap set by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Only veterans who are entitled to the maximum benefit rate (based on service requirements) may receive this funding. Therefore, you may be eligible if:
- You served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months
- You were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001
- You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran’s service under the eligibility criteria listed above
Not all colleges and universities take part in the Yellow Ribbon Program. If you are eligible and want to take advantage of this opportunity, you should research the list of participating institutions when deciding on which schools you want to apply to and/or attend.
Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty and Veterans (MGIB-AD)
This program is sometimes known as Chapter 30. Providing up to 36 months of benefits, the MGIB-AD covers degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. Other types of education, such as remedial and refresher courses, may be approved under certain circumstances. MGIB-AD benefits can be accessed while on active duty and for 10 years after you leave the military.
The $600 Buy-Up Program allows you to increase your monthly benefits by contributing additional money while you’re on active duty. You may qualify for this program by falling into any of several categories, as detailed on the Department of Veterans Affairs MGIB-AD page.
Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)
If you elect to take part in VEAP while on active duty, the government matches your contributions on a 2-for-1 basis (the government contributes $2 for every $1 that you do). The funds are then available to you once you leave the military, and can be used for degree, certificate, correspondence, apprenticeship/on-the-job training programs, and vocational flight training programs. Other types of education, such as remedial and refresher courses, may be approved under certain circumstances.
As of August 1, 2011, interval pay is no longer payable under VEAP unless your school is closed due to an emergency or Executive Order of the President. You can fully explore eligibility and application details on the Department of Veterans Affairs VEAP page.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program (VR&E)
Sometimes called the Chapter 31 or VetSuccess Program, VR&E is for veterans with service-connected disabilities. The program is designed to help such veterans train for, acquire and retain suitable jobs. There are strict eligibility requirements, and services provided by VR&E are extensive; both can be fully reviewed on the Department of Veterans Affairs VR&E page
Top Careers for Veterans
While skills and interests differ, many veterans choose to pursue degrees in allied health, business, criminal justice or information technology. If you’re looking to enter the workforce quickly, a medical assistant certificate or Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement could be a good choice. If you have the time and inclination to pursue a more comprehensive education, a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering or Master of Business Administration (MBA) may be what you’re looking for.
Below are links to more information about some careers that are both popular with veterans and expected to grow significantly over the next decade:
Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Explore our full careers section for a look at jobs in hundreds of different fields!