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Your Next Move: Using Your GI Bill to Fund Your Education

September 12, 2012

Veterans earn financial support toward collegiate goals

The decision to enter the military is often rooted in a desire to serve and protect the country. By joining, many service members delay other life goals and milestones, such as earning a college degree. Thanks to the expanded benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, returning or retiring service members can now fulfill their collegiate goals without the financial burdens typically associated with a college degree.

King College is a military-friendly institution dedicated to providing active duty service members and veterans an accessible and affordable degree, serving as a springboard to their next career move.

What Is the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

Congress elected to expand the current financial assistance benefits for active duty armed forces personnel who became active on or after September 11, 2001. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, or Post-9/11 GI Bill, was signed July 2008 and became effective August 2009. Expanded benefits have already enabled thousands of recent veterans to achieve their collegiate goals. In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) reports that of the more than 900,000 service members who received federal education benefits last year, more than 555,000 served after September 11, 2001.

Benefits depend on the total number of months served on or after September 11, 2001. Military members must have served at least 90 days to take advantage of educational benefits. At 90 days, service members are eligible for 40 percent of the education benefits under the expanded GI Bill.

The main benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill include:

  • Up to 100 percent tuition and fee coverage paid directly to the public, in-state college or university of the student veteran’s or active duty personnel’s choice for up to four years
  • A monthly housing allowance for student veterans and active duty personnel who have dependents (including a reduced stipend for service members and student veterans enrolled in online courses)
  • Up to $1,000 annually for textbooks and school-related supplies paid proportionately to service members, veterans and their spouses
  • Up to $2,000 toward a one-time licensing or certification test
  • A one-time relocation allowance
  • Optional benefits transfer to family members, including a spouse or child
  • Fifteen year eligibility after retiring from active duty

Active duty service members and veterans can also qualify for additional financial assistance benefits from participating institutions under the Yellow Ribbon Program. The Yellow Ribbon Program supplements benefits paid out under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Many private institutions participate in this program to make their tuition more affordable for military members. Under the program, institutions choose the amount of tuition and fees they will contribute and the VA matches that amount. Many public institutions also choose to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to support military members earning a graduate degree, which the GI Bill does not cover.

Life After the Military

Army vet smiling with his son

This year, more than 1 million military service members are projected to return from service; discovering life after the military will be a top priority and, for many, will start with a college degree. While earning a college degree is the next move for many veterans, the road to graduation can be fraught with challenges. The following tips can help veterans succeed in higher education.

  1. Prepare yourself for the transition: Student veterans often struggle to adjust to college life after experiencing a regimented daily routine in the military. You are now in charge of your schedule and must stay accountable to ensure you attend class, complete assignments and prepare for exams.
  2. Connect with fellow veterans: Seek on-campus veteran resources to help you connect with fellow veterans. The challenges of college life are amplified for someone who is also adapting to civilian life. Having a built-in support group who understands what you are going through can help alleviate transitional stress and emotions.
  3. Connect with other peers: Try not to limit yourself to socializing with just your veteran peers. Broadening your social circle to include civilians can help ease your transition into civilian life.
  4. Go online for a college education: Student veterans who do not have time to enroll in full-time, on-campus degree programs can earn an online-based degree. Online degree programs are gaining popularity among student veterans who want an accessible way to earn their degree while fulfilling other commitments associated with their transition into civilian life. You can complete coursework at your own pace, and online students can still take advantage of on-campus veteran resources.

Military-friendly institutions provide student veterans with a positive academic environment designed to ease the transition into civilian life and promote higher degree completion rates nationwide. Many military-friendly institutions offer reduced tuition rates to help extend GI Bill benefits and discounts for spouses, who must also cope with transition.

For the third consecutive year, GI Jobs (a publication for military personnel transitioning into civilian life) has recognized King College as a military-friendly institution. King College has an on-campus VA representative to assist you through your educational journey, helping to maximize your military benefits.

King College has a reputation for academic excellence that goes beyond the classroom. Our online degree programs position graduates for exceptional career or continued education opportunities. More than 80 percent of our graduates receive admission to their choice of graduate programs. Make an investment in your future with an online degree from King College.