Vets Checklist: Planning for Civilian Life

VA Education Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers education benefits to veterans, service members, and their families. Benefits can include help paying tuition, finding the right school or training program, and career counseling. This page introduces a few of the most important programs.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

You may be able to get Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits if you’ve served on active duty for at least 90 days, whether continuous (all at once) or for shorter periods over time, since September 10, 2001.

If you are enrolled at an approved university or trade school and are in good standing (which means you have to meet certain academic standards, usually a GPA of 2.0 or better), the Post-9/11 GI Bill gives:

  • Tuition payments directly to your school, and
  • Monthly cash payments to you to help with housing, books, and supplies.

You can also transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse or child.

Learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) gives you monthly cash payments while you are enrolled at an approved college or trade school and remain in good standing. There are two Montgomery GI Bill programs and you may qualify for benefits from one of them.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

You can get benefits through MGIB-AD if you:

  • Served at least two years on active duty
  • Were honorably discharged, and
  • Have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit.

You also must meet other program requirements.

Learn more about MGIB-AD.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MBIG-SR)

You can get benefits through MGIB-SR if you’re a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserves, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard, and you either:

  • Agreed to serve six years in the Selected Service, or
  • Are an officer in the Selected Reserve who agreed to serve six years in addition to your initial service obligation.

You also must meet other program requirements.

Learn more about MGIB-SR.

Other Programs

You may be able to get help paying for school tuition, testing fees, and advanced licensing or certifications through other VA educational programs. Learn more about advanced training and certification. This can include entrepreneurship training to help you start or improve your small business.

GI Benefits for your spouse or dependent children

In some cases, a veteran’s dependent or surviving spouse and children can get educational help through a GI Bill program. Learn more about education assistance for survivors or dependents.

If you haven’t used all of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you may be able to transfer up to 36 months of benefits to your spouse or a dependent child. Learn more about transferring education benefits.

How to Apply

The VA lists the documents and information you need to apply for education benefits and offers an online GI Bill Comparison Tool that lets you see what benefits you can get at the school you want to attend.

You can get help picking the right program for you by working with a trained professional at a veterans service organization (VSO). Search for an accredited representative.

Once you’re ready to apply for VA education benefits, you have several options. You can:

  • Apply online
  • Go to the VA's Detroit Regional Office and have a VA employee help you
  • Work with your school’s certifying official (usually the school’s registrar or financial aid office)
  • Call 1-888-442-4551 (1-888-GI-BILL-1) and ask to have an application mailed to you. Fill it out and mail it to the VA Regional Processing Office nearest to the school you want to attend.

It typically takes the VA about 30 days to make a decision on an education benefits application. If your application is approved, you’ll get an award letter, or Certificate of Eligibility (COE), in the mail; bring it to the VA certifying official at your school.

Learn more