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A Guide To The G.I. Bill

The G.I. Bill is a federal law that provides tuition, housing, and supply funds for veterans who have completed active duty and are enrolling in college. Originally created during the Second World War, the G.I. Bill has been revised several times over the years. The most current form of the bill, known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill (Chapter 33), provides fully-qualifying veterans with free undergraduate or graduate tuition at an in-state public university, a monthly living stipend, and up to $1,000 yearly for the cost of school books and supplies. Veterans who opt to attend a private college receive a yearly benefit in the amount of $17,500 to use toward their education. Those who are eligible for assistance under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill have a time limit of up to 15 years to use their benefits.

The history of the G.I. Bill dates back to 1943, when World War I veteran Harry Colmery drafted a bill that would protect World War II veterans financially as they re-acclimated to civilian life and work. The bill, known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, was signed into law in 1944 and provided veterans with financial assistance for higher education, a year-long unemployment allowance, and guaranteed federal loans. In the wake of decreased government funding and increased college tuition rates, the bill was updated in 1984 by Congressman Sonny Montgomery and became known as the Montgomery G.I. Bill. The bill was yet again updated in 2008 to reflect the financial needs of post- 9/11 veterans who enroll at higher learning institutions.

In order to be eligible for full benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, veterans either must have served for 36 cumulative months of active duty in the period following September 10, 2001, or must have served for 30 cumulative days of active duty before being discharged for a service-related disability. Those who are still on active duty yet qualify for full G.I. Bill benefits are exempt from receiving a monthly housing allowance. Veterans and active duty service members who do not meet the eligibility requirements for maximum benefits can still receive a portion of those benefits, depending on how much time they have served. For example, a veteran who has served for 30 cumulative months post-9/11 is eligible for 90% of G.I. Bill benefits, while a veteran who has served for six cumulative months post-9/11 is eligible for 50% of G.I. Bill benefits.

Although the Post-9/11 chapter is the most recent version of the G.I. Bill, other chapters still remain as written law. These include the Montgomery G.I. Bill (Chapter 30), the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services program (Chapter 31), the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35), the Montgomery G.I. Bill – Select Reserve (Chapter 1606), and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 1607). Chapters such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill continue to benefit certain veterans, including distance learning students, at a higher rate than that offered by the newer Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The Vocational Rehabilitation chapter, among others, can be applied in tandem with the Post-9/11 chapter for qualifying veterans who need further benefits for education.

The following links provide additional information on the G.I. Bill.

– The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill: This page of the United States Department of Veteran Affairs website provides up-to-date information on financial allowances covered under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

– Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Benefits: This article, located on the official U.S. Department of Defense website, discusses the educational benefits of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the outreach efforts made toward veterans who qualify for the bill.

– G.I. Bill: Frequently Asked Questions: This page offers answers to frequently asked questions regarding the G.I. Bill, such as those concerning eligibility, available benefits, tuition fee coverage, and application procedures.

– G.I. Bill Resource Guide: This resource guide, prepared and distributed through U.S. Senator Tom Udall’s office, provides comprehensive information on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and includes information on how to apply for benefits.

– G.I. Bill: Tuition and Fees Guidelines: This April 9, 2009 article discusses the Department of Veteran Affairs’ final ruling on tuition and fee payments that are covered under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

– G.I. Bill Yellow Ribbon Program: This page offers insight on the Yellow Ribbon Program, a Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provision that grants additional education funding for qualified veterans.

– Chapters of the G.I. Bill: This document provides descriptions of the various G.I. Bill Chapters (33, 30, 31, 1606, 1607, and 35).

– The Road to a Better G.I. Bill: This 2008 article chronicles the efforts of veterans who campaigned for improvements to be made on the G.I. Bill, specifically in regard to college benefits.

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