Is Education Your Best Option?

Is Education Your Best Option?

This LinkedIn announcement comes from retired Navy Captain Paul Frost, MOAA's Deputy Director for Financial Education and Veteran Services. The Post-911 GI Bill is one of the most valuable benefits a veteran receives. It covers the net cost of tuition, fees, housing and books for a maximum of 36 months with no cost or enrollment fee. Moreover, this benefit is transferable to your spouse and/or children!

Eligibility requires an honorable discharge with at least 90 aggregate or 30 continuous days of service with a service-connected disability after September 11, 2001. Full benefits are achieved at 36 months of post-911service.

The Post-911 GIB may be used at all accredited public and private colleges/universities, vocational schools, flight training, or apprenticeships and “on the job” training programs. Tuition and fees are capped at the “in-state” rate for public schools and $20,235 for “out-of-state” and private/foreign programs. A “Yellow Ribbon” program, designed to offset costs above the capped rate may be available at some schools but you must apply early as slots are limited. Flight training is capped at $11,563/academic year and correspondence courses at $9,828/year. A $1,000 annual stipend for books and supplies is also available at colleges/universities, $83 per month for vocational, apprenticeships and OJT, but no stipend is provided for flight training or correspondence courses.

A monthly housing allowance helps offset your expenses. The benefit is pro-rated based on class load; you must be attending at least greater than “half-time” at that particular institution. Paid at the E-5 with dependents rate based on the location of the school, this allowance is fixed at $1,509 for foreign education and $755 for on-line courses. There is no allowance paid between academic terms.

The Post-911 GIB will also reimburse veterans for national admissions, course credit and certification/licensing tests. There is a cap of $2,000/test and it will cost you one month of P-911 GI Bill benefit for each $1,688 of test expense. So if your tuition averages out to $750/month, it might not make sense to utilize one month of benefit for a $250 test.

Don't see yourself going back for another degree? Then don't leave money on the table - transfer the benefit to your spouse or children! However, you must make a transfer before you leave the service. After military service, the transfer option is lost forever. You can transfer benefits at any time while serving. Transferability generates a four year commitment for those who have not yet reached retirement eligibility. As a general rule, you should transfer at least one month to each dependent you think may use the benefit and each dependent must be in DEERS. You cannot transfer the benefit to a dependent acquired after separation, but once a transfer is made it can be changed/altered after separation.

If you previously used the Montgomery GI Bill you may still have eligibility for the Post-911 GIB. If you used 12 or less months of M-GIB, you have the full 36 months of P-911 GIB; used all 36 months of M-GIB - you can still get 12 months of P-911 GIB; used between 13-35 months - then the unused M-GIB benefit becomes the new P-911 GIB.

If you think a degree or certificate improves your opportunities for a second career, your P-911 GIB is there to help.