VE TERAN S ED UC ATION B EN EFIT S. Maximizing Your Service

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1 VE TERAN S ED UC ATION B EN EFIT S Maximizing Your Service

2 ENLISTING YOUR EDUCATION BENEFITS You rose to the challenge and enlisted in the military to serve your country. Now you re ready to move on to the next phase in your life and maximize the benefits of your service. Some of the most valuable benefits of serving in the military are the postsecondary education benefits. Whether you re just starting school or you re interested in other benefits that can help you build a brighter future through your education, we re here to help you understand the generous programs that are available. Enlisting your education benefits allows you to achieve your higher education goals by helping you pay for college or pay off existing student loans. Inside you ll discover how to: Find the Best Benefit for You Compare Benefits Apply for Veterans Benefits Ask for Help 1

3 BENEFITS OVERVIEW Post 9/11 GI Bill The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers financial aid for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, and their families. It is the most generous education benefit for the majority of veterans, covering the full cost of an undergraduate education at any public university or college and many private colleges for eligible veterans. The bill provides up to 36 months of benefits for up to 15 years following your release from active duty. What are the benefits? Tuition and fee payments are issued to the school on your behalf. A housing allowance based on where your school is located is issued directly to you at the beginning of each month for education and training pursued the previous month. An annual books and supplies stipend of $1,000 is paid proportionately based on your enrollment. A one-time rural benefit payment is available for eligible individuals. Who is eligible? The Post-9/11 GI Bill has benefit tiers. You are eligible for the top tier, 100% of the benefit, if you served an aggregate of 36 months of active duty service or were discharged for a service-connected disability after 30 days of continuous service. If you served for less than 36 months, you are eligible to receive the percentage of the benefit that corresponds to your length of service. The Yellow Ribbon Program The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to the amount of undergraduate tuition and fees charged by the most expensive public school in your state. If you attend a private college or university, your tuition and fees may exceed that amount. If your private institution participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, additional funds may be available to help pay for your education. 2

4 The Yellow Ribbon Program allows private degree-granting institutions to voluntarily fund tuition expenses that are more than the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. The institution can contribute a specific dollar amount and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will match the amount, not to exceed 50% of the difference between. Transfer Benefits to Dependents The Post-9/11 GI Bill also allows you to transfer benefits to dependents while you continue to serve. You can transfer unused education benefits to immediate family members once you have completed six years of service and committed to an additional four years of service. Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Active Duty The MGIB Active Duty provides up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans. You are eligible after two years of active duty and the monthly benefit is paid directly to you. The amount you receive depends on your training, length of service, veteran category, and kickers (extra money in your MGIB fund from the U.S. Department of Defense). You generally have 10 years from your date of discharge to use your MGIB benefits. Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Selected Reserve There is also an MGIB program for members of the Selected Reserve. To qualify, you must have a six-year commitment to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985, in addition to other requirements. You are eligible for up to 36 months of education benefits that must be used within 10 years after your beginning date of eligibility. 3

5 Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) REAP provides up to 36 months of education benefits to members of the Selected Reserves, Individual Ready Reserve, and National Guard who are called or ordered to active service in response to a war or national emergency, as declared by the president or congress. Eligibility is determined by the U.S. Department of Defense, but members of a reserve component are generally eligible after serving on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, for at least 90 consecutive days. Eligibility for REAP generally ends when you leave the Selected Reserves. The benefit payable is a percentage of the MGIB three-year or more enlistment rate. Approved training under REAP includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational/technical training, on-the-job or apprenticeship training, correspondence training, and flight training. Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA) DEA is an education benefit for eligible spouses and children of certain veterans. Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for qualified education expenses. Spouses and surviving spouses have 10 years from the date the VA establishes eligibility to use the benefit. Surviving spouses of veterans who died while on active duty have 20 years from the date of the veteran s death to use the benefit. Eligible dependents may use the benefit while they are between the ages of 18 and 26. The amount of the benefit is based on the type of educational program and its duration. 4

6 Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) VEAP is a program available to veterans who elected to make contributions from their military pay to the program. To establish eligibility for VEAP, you must have entered active duty after December 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985; contributed to VEAP before April 1, 1987; completed your first period of service; and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Your contributions are matched by the federal government on a $2 for $1 basis. You must use the benefit within 10 years after being discharged from active duty. National Call to Service Program The National Call to Service Program is a benefit that requires you to perform a threetiered military or domestic service requirement in order to be eligible. Once you complete the requirements, you have a choice of incentives, such as a cash bonus of $5,000 or the repayment of a qualifying student loan that does not exceed $18,000. Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment This program is a service for veterans who have a service-connected disability. Educational and vocational counseling is available for eligible service members, current beneficiaries of GI Bill programs, and veterans and qualified dependents who are eligible for educational assistance under any of the GI Bill programs. 5

7 FIND THE BEST BENEFIT FOR YOU You may qualify for more than one education benefit. You can only receive assistance from one VA education program at a time, so it s important to make sure you consider all of your options. The best benefit for you will depend on your individual circumstances. The VA recommends answering the following questions when making your decision: Which benefit pays you more? What Post-9/11 GI Bill tier are you eligible for? Are you receiving other aid? What other type of training will you pursue? Where will you be living when you pursue training? Is the timeframe to utilize benefits important to you? Are you eligible to transfer benefits to dependents? Do you want to transfer benefits? Do you have remaining entitlement under other VA education programs? The VA has also developed a step-by-step process that will help walk you through which program might be the best one for you. Follow each step at gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/step-bystep.htm. You may think that you will receive the most money from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but make sure you carefully consider all of the factors involved. 6

8 Eligibility Compare Benefits The chart below shows you at a glance how the various education benefits compare. Visit gibill.va.gov for help with breaking down the programs in more detail. MONTGOMERY MONTGOMERY POST-911 GI BILL GI BILL-ACTIVE DUTY GI BILL-RESERVES REAP Members who served on active duty for at least 90 aggregate days after 9/11/01. Members who entered active duty on or after 7/1/85 and who had at least a 2-year enlistment. Members who have a 6-year commitment to serve in the Selective Reserve after 6/30/85. Members of a Reserve component who served on active duty on or after 9/11/01 for at least 90 consecutive days. 7

9 Transferability Members with at least 6 years of service who reenlist for at least 4 more years can transfer up to 36 months of benefits to dependents. Service Requirement From 90 days to 3+ years of cumulative active duty service after 9/11/01. TIME LIMIT TO USE BENEFITS 15 years from last discharge or separation. Members with at least 6 years of service who reenlist for at least 4 more years can transfer up to 36 months of benefits to dependents. Three or more years of continuous active duty to receive the full benefit. Reduced benefit for original active duty obligation of at least 2 years, or 2 years if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served 4 years. 10 years from last discharge or separation. None None Remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit. Eligibility generally ends when you leave the Selected Reserves. 14 years from last discharge or separation if your eligibility began on or after 10/1/ years from separation. 8

10 APPLY FOR VETERANS BENEFITS To apply for federal veterans benefits, you can submit an application online at gibill.va.gov/ GI_Bill_Info/How_to_Apply.htm. You can also print a paper application from this website or pick one up at the school that you are attending or wish to attend. Look for the forms in the admissions, registrar s, or financial aid office. The school will then submit your forms to the VA. Learn More For more information on veterans education benefits, visit: New GI Bill newgibill.org Military Friendly Schools militaryfriendlyschools.com/pr09.aspx Reserve/Guard Financial Aid Resource Page nasfaa.org/linklists/reservistguidance.asp Yellow Ribbon Program gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/yellow_ribbon.htm U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits gibill.va.gov What Education Benefit Is Best for Me? Learn Step-by-Step gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/step-by-step.htm You can also call 888-GIBILL-1 ( ) to speak to a veterans benefit counselor from the VA. State Veterans Benefit Programs In addition to federal benefits, most states offer additional benefits. Check with your state s office of veterans affairs for more information. Visit the State Veterans Affairs Offices website at va.gov/statedva.htm and click on your state. 9

11 ASK FOR HELP Repayment Help If you re ready to repay your student loans and need help, there are lots of available resources. Federal student loans have different payment plan options so you can choose a plan that best fits your budget. There are also deferment or forbearance options that allow you to lower or postpone your payment if you are having difficulty making your payments. A military deferment allows you to temporarily suspend your student loan payments if you are called to active duty while your loans are in repayment. For more information, visit studentaid.ed.gov/portalswebapp/students/ english/difficulty.jsp. Campus Support After you ve completed your service, seek out transition and support services on your campus. Many campuses have resources and support groups available to help veterans through the transition back to college. Your financial aid office or campus veterans affairs office can help you take advantage of these generous veterans education benefits! Ask for help or visit gibill.va.gov to learn more today. 10

12 FINDING THE RIGHT WAY FOR YOU You committed to serving your country. The veterans education programs are a benefit of your service. They can help you get started building a brighter future through education. Or they can help you complete the education that you may have put on hold when you were called to active duty. This primer is intended to make you aware of the many veterans programs that are available. Your school s financial aid office and veterans affairs staff can help you find out which programs are best for you and your educational goals. Here to Help Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is here to help you through your education and beyond. As you evaluate your veterans education benefits and your financial aid options, we can help you make sure you know everything you need to know along the way. Visit mygreatlakes.org for more information about paying for college and building a bright financial future Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. All rights reserved (10/09)

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