Common Questions About the GI Bill


As a service member or veteran, you're likely to encounter unique challenges when you apply for G.I. Bill benefits. Here's a guide to help you more effectively navigate the application process and provide some useful resources in your pursuit of higher learning.

What is the G.I. Bill?

The G.I. Bill is an education benefit for members of active duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces who want to attend college. It has helped millions of veterans and their families pay for college since 1994. Comprised of several programs –most notably the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and Montgomery G.I. Bill –it is administered per a service member’s eligibility and duty status.

Am I Eligible for Benefits?

Different programs have different standards. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, you might be eligible for Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits if you had at least three months' active duty service after September 10, 2001. You must also have been honorably discharged or you were discharged with a service-related disability after a month of service. This eligibility lasts 15 years after your last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.

You might also qualify for Montgomery G.I. Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) or Montgomery G.I. Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) benefits if you have several years of active duty under your belt.

Family members can also qualify for VA-administered programs one in four beneficiaries from VA education programs are non-veterans.

How Are Payments Made and for How Long?

The Post-9/11 bill offers the greatest array of benefits for most service members, including tuition reimbursement to attend public or private institutions, a monthly housing stipend and money for books and supplies. Benefits generally last a maximum of 36 months, although members who are eligible for more than one program may receive a maximum of 48 months. A comparison chart of the various payment rates, eligibility requirements and the benefits of each G.I. program is provided by the VA.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Benefits?

It might take some time for your benefits to kick in. "It can take well into the first course before the bill gets paid from the government, so sometimes students get worried,” says Dr. Carissa Johnson, Director of Online Enrollment Management at the University of Miami. Dr. Johnson recommends working with an enrollment advisor directly throughout the funding process, something that UM and UOnline makes easy for its students.

I’m Eligible for Benefits. How Do I Get Started?

That’s great to hear! You’re following the footsteps of more than 20 million G.I. Bill beneficiaries. The easiest way you can apply for education benefits is online through the Veterans Online Application website. You can also apply in person at your nearest VA regional office, or visit the VA certifying official at your institution. Certifying officials are located in the Office of the Registrar at UM and are available to assist you with all your VA educational benefits inquiries.

How Do I Know if a Program Is Approved for G.I. Bill Benefits?

State approving agencies are responsible for the approval of education programs. The VA offers an institution search engine you can check, but in general, accredited institutions of higher learning offering standard college degree programs are usually a safe bet.

Can I Apply My Benefits to an Online Program?

Online programs, similar to on-campus programs, offer an assortment of benefits for service members leveraging the G.I. Bill. Also, they offer the convenience of completing a degree in your own home.

UOnline offers various military scholarships for students pursuing one of their online degree programs. It also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program that makes additional funds available for a program of your choice.

The application process might seem daunting at first, but it's quite simple when you have an understanding of what the bill does and doesn’t cover. Checking out UOnline’s veteran benefits for more information.