5 Facts Everyone Should Know About the Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • Payment Breakdown
  • A Month Isn't Always a Month
  • Use Benefits as Needed
  • Not Federal Financial Aid
  • Time Limitations

There are many important things to know about the Post 911 G.I. Bill for veterans and active-duty servicemembers who are looking to go back to school. The benefits can be confusing at first, especially since there is an overwhelming amount of information out there, and even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs admits that the process can be complicated. However, it's important that each person using these benefits fully understand them prior to pursuing their education. Here are five important things to know about the Post 911 G.I. Bill.

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1. Payment Breakdown

Students receive GI Bill benefits according to several factors, including how many credits they are pursuing and how many months they served on active duty. Students who are attending a public school can arrange for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay their full tuition directly to the university. Students will also receive up to $1,000 per year for supplies and books as well as a separate monthly housing allowance that is paid at a percentage based on the factors previously stated.

2. A Month Isn't Always a Month

Under the GI Bill, students are eligible to receive 36 months of benefits. Keep in mind, though, that this does not mean that students must use all of their benefits in a consecutive 36-month period, nor does it mean they only have 36 months to use them. There are two ways a "month" is used depending on whether a student is a veteran or an active-duty member. However, in terms of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, not the Montgomery GI Bill, full-time students who attend one month or 30 days of classes use one month's worth of benefits.

3. Use Benefits as Needed

There is a misconception that a student must remain enrolled in a school in order to receive their full GI Bill benefits. However, that's not the case; students can use their benefits for any period of time they wish. They may also take time off of school, reapply at a later date, and continue to use their benefits. If used wisely, GI Bill benefits can help students finish an associate degree, complete a bachelor's degree, and even earn a master's degree.

4. Not Federal Financial Aid

University and college financial aid departments do not considered the GI Bill to be a form of federal financial aid in the traditional sense because it is usually paid directly to the student, not the school. Those who take advantage of the GI Bill will typically need to sign a promissory note to the school or apply for student loans and pay them upfront using their GI Bill payments. However, this also means that students may be eligible for Pell Grants, scholarships, and student loans in addition to receiving funds from the GI Bill. Keep in mind that, although the GI Bill is not taxable, receiving GI Bill payments may reduce the amount of student financial aid students are eligible to receive.

5. Time Limitations

Once members of the military have separated from the service, they have 15 years to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and 10 years to use their benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. Although leaving the service begins the clock on their 10-year time limit, if one rejoins active-duty service for a period of more than 90 days within that 10-year period, the 10-year clock resets. In other words, members get 10 years from the date of their last discharge.

Understanding military benefits can be complex and confusing, regardless of a student's current status. However, many universities and schools operate Military Centers or Veterans' Centers designed to help veterans and active-duty servicemembers who are considering furthering their education. Although there is a lot to consider when choosing a school, the above are a few important things to know about the Post 911 G.I. Bill.