The Post-9/11 GI Bill: Who Qualifies and What Are the Benefits?
Congress passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, providing an alternative and expanded benefits program for veterans and active service members serving on or after September 11, 2001. Also known as Chapter 33, the Post-9/11 GI Bill offers additional options for how and where military students can use educational benefits, as well as available stipends for housing and books. Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, this updated program also gives service members the option to transfer unused benefits to spouses and/or children.1
The Post-9/11 GI Bill did not replace or overhaul any existing veterans' benefits programs, and the Montgomery GI Bill of 1984 remains an available option for many service members and reservists. Rather, Chapter 33 acts as an alternative program to give qualifying military students and their families more choices in how to claim and use their educational benefits.
Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
The core benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill still include 36 months of tuition payments to qualifying colleges, training programs, or technical education institutions. For public schools, this includes all resident tuition and fees; for private institutions, benefit payments will cover either the actual amount of tuition and fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school (whichever amount is lower).
Benefits can be used for the following:
- Independent and distance learning
- Institutions of higher learning (undergraduate and graduate degrees)
- Vocational/technical training (non-college degree programs)
- National testing reimbursement
- Licensing and certification reimbursement
- Correspondence training
- Cooperative training
- Entrepreneurship training
- Flight training
- On-the-job training
- Tuition assistance top-up
- Tutorial assistance
However, benefits recipients can also claim available stipends for housing and school supplies—one key way the Post-9/11 GI Bill offers expanded benefits when compared to the Montgomery GI Bill. Some of these additional benefits include:
- Monthly Housing Stipend (typically the same as the military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents)
- Yearly Books and Materials Stipend (up to $1,000)
- One-Time Rural Benefit Payment (up to $500 relocation stipend)2
Yellow Ribbon Program
If you elect to use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits while attending a private or out-of-state college or university, it's possible the tuition and fees may exceed the amount allowed by your GI Bill entitlement. Participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program gives schools the opportunity to offset some or all of these additional costs by providing extra funding. Institutions that participate in the program make contributions toward tuition and fees that are then matched by the VA.
In order to qualify for additional funding from the Yellow Ribbon program, you must be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under your Post-9/11 GI Bill entitlement and cannot currently be on active duty.3 A list of all institutions participating in the program can be found on the VA's website.
Am I Eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
- Still on active duty and have at least 90 days of active service after September 10, 2001
- A veteran with an honorable discharge who served at 90 days of active service after September 10, 2001
- A Veteran discharged with a service-related disability having served at least 30 days of active duty after September 10, 2001.4
How Do I Claim Benefits?
If you choose to claim benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must first make an irrevocable election in writing to the VA. Once enrolled, you may no longer be eligible for any other veterans' education benefit programs. Benefits are typically available for up to 15 years following release from active duty.
Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, tuition benefits are paid directly to the college or institution in which service members or family members are enrolled (plus any additional funds from the Yellow Ribbon Program, if applicable). Annual and monthly stipends are paid to veterans.
Resident Rate Requirements
Under Section 702 of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, public colleges and universities must charge in-state tuition to qualifying veterans in order to be eligible for tuition benefits. To learn more about who qualifies for resident tuition rates under Section 702, click here.
Can I Transfer My Benefits?
The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers a unique transferal-of-benefits option that allows active-duty service members to transfer all or part of their unused benefits to a spouse, children, or a mix of both. The Department of Defense must approve all benefits transfers, and the person receiving transferred benefits must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS).
To be eligible to transfer benefits, service members must currently be on active duty and must commit to an additional period of service based on their current status (outlined below):
- Have served at least 6 years in active duty and/or the Selected Reserve
- Must commit to an additional 4 years of service (from the date on which benefits were elected
- Served 10+ years on active duty and/or in a Selected Reserve branch, and are currently precluded from serving an additional 4 years due to policy or statute
- Must commit to the maximum allowable amount of additional service
- Are currently eligible for retirement
- Must commit to an additional 4 years of service (from the date on which benefits were elected)5
Rules and limitations regarding how and when transferred benefits may be used are different for spouses and for children, and certain benefits may not become available until after service members are released from active duty. Full rules for spouses and children accessing benefits can be found here.
Questions about using your GI Bill benefits? Learn more about tuition and fees for military students at AIU.
1U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, "History and Timeline," on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/history.asp (visited January 24, 2016).
2U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, "Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) Payment Rates For 2012 Academic Year," on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/resources/benefits_resources/rates/CH33/Ch33rates080112.asp (visited January 24, 2016).
3U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, "Yellow Ribbon Program," on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/yellow_ribbon.asp (visited January 24, 2016).
4U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, "Post-9/11 GI Bill," on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp (visited January 24, 2016).
5U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, "Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill to Spouse and Dependents," on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_transfer.asp (visited January 24, 2016).