Paying for School: Understanding the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
While the military offers their servicemen and servicewomen many excellent financial aid benefits, the complexity of all these benefits can make life confusing, especially for first time students. This week, we will look at the most popular type of military benefit — the GI Bills. There are two types of GI Bills — the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Each has different chapter benefits that are explained below:
1. Montgomery GI Bill
- Chapter 30 — This is for students who are active duty, separated, or retired from the military.
- Chapter 35 — This chapter is only for spouses or dependents of a service person or veteran who is 100% disabled due to a service related condition, or who died in service.
- Chapter 1606 — This benefit is for members of the Selected Reserve and National Guard.
2. Post 9/11 GI Bill
- Chapter 33 — This chapter is for any servicemember who served at least 90 days consecutively since 9/10/2001.
Who is eligible for which chapter is determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Servicemembers can actually be eligible for more than one chapter. Other than eligibility, the biggest difference between the two bills is how the funds are paid out. Members under the Montgomery GI Bill are paid directly by the VA for each month that they are enrolled in courses. If they are active duty, the GI Bill will only pay for tuition costs. If they are not active, they will get a flat monthly rate to pay for tuition and other educational expenses. Members under the Post 9/11 GI Bill have their funds for tuition sent straight to the school they are attending. A Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and book stipend are sent directly to the student, if eligible.
Another additional benefit that the Post 9/11 GI Bill offers is the ability for servicemembers to take concurrent courses at both a “brick and mortar” school and an online school. They must be enrolled at both universities (for example, attending both West Virginia University as well as American Military University). Also, the courses taken at the secondary school must apply to the student’s degree program at the primary school. The benefit of this for Chapter 33 students is that it will provide the student with a more accurate BAH because it is based on the zip code of the brick and mortar school. The VA has determined the BAH rate at 100% for online schools to be approximately half the national average.
By far, the best resource for military students is a VA representative or a VA certifying official at the school they are attending. There are many factors that determine eligibility, so it is best to speak with a VA representative to make sure you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. Next week, we will take a look at Military Tuition Assistance (TA), another very common military financial aid benefit.