5 Important Educational Benefits for Transitioning Military
Article Sponsored by: Lipscomb University
You’re transitioning from the military, have spent time assessing your options and have decided to go back to school. Now what? Luckily, there are many educational benefits available to transitioning military personnel to help pay for your education so that you can spend more time focused on your transition and your studies and less time worrying about the financial burden. Depending on your education needs, one or more of the following options might be right for you.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is available for service members who have served at least 90 days of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, and offers financial assistance to attend any approved school, university or vocational school that offers a degree program. The amount of your benefit is determined by the length of time you spent on active duty, your location, which program or school you are planning to attend and the type of degree you are planning to pursue. A veteran who is eligible for the maximum benefits may receive funding for up to 100 percent of the tuition and fees charged by the most expensive in-state public school undergraduate program in the same state as the veteran resides, as well as a housing allowance and a book stipend. Typically, Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits must be used within 15 years of final discharge date.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill also has a provision called the Yellow Ribbon Program. Colleges and universities that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program will pay a portion above the maximum benefit allotted by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The school can pay up to 50 percent of the costs over the maximum benefit, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will match their contribution for the remainder of the cost.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill provides up to 36 months of military education benefits to eligible veterans that can be used for college tuition and fees, technical school, vocational school, correspondence courses, online education, apprenticeships, job training, flight training, high-tech training, licensing and certification tests, entrepreneurship training, and certain entrance examinations. General eligibility requirements are as follows:
-You are on active duty, and have served at least three years of active duty after June 30, 1985.
-You elected to enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill program and have had $100 deducted from your monthly pay for a year.
Veterans can also qualify for the bill, but you must meet the above eligibility requirements, have received an Honorable Discharge and have a high school diploma or GED.
The VA can help you determine if you meet the qualifications. The program currently pays a maximum of $1,321 per month for 36 months. Maximum benefits can be increased by as much as $5,400 total by participating in the “Buy Up” program while on active duty. Typically, Montgomery GI Bill benefits must be used within 10 years after leaving active duty.
What are the differences between the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill?
The main difference between the two bills is that the Post-9/11 GI Bill is designed to provide veterans with education benefits when pursuing a degree from an institution or vocational school. These benefits often pay for a greater percentage of the tuition costs than the Montgomery GI Bill and may also pay a housing allowance and book stipend.
The Montgomery GI Bill, on the other hand, offers more options in the types of programs it covers, but benefits are limited to $1,321 per month, and may only be used for tuition, fees and other specific school-related expenses.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is available for veterans if they elected to make contributions from their military pay to participate in the program. The government then matches your contribution by 200 percent (on a 2-for-1 basis). VEAP may be used for a college degree and certificate programs, technical or vocational courses, flight training, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, high-tech training, licensing and certification tests, entrepreneurship training, certain entrance examinations, and correspondence courses. The benefit is available from one to 36 months, depending on how long you contributed. Typically, VEAP benefits must be used within 10 years of your release from active duty. Whatever you don’t use in the 10-year time frame will be automatically refunded to you. General eligibility requirements are as follows:
-Entered service for the first time between Jan. 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985
-Opened a contribution account before April 1, 1987
-Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2,700
-Completed your first period of service and were discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable
Veterans Upward Bound (VUB)
Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is designed to help veterans in the development of academic and other requisite skills necessary for acceptance and success in a postsecondary education program. The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate in which veterans graduate from postsecondary institutions. Other services offered by the VUB program include:
-Education or counseling services to improve financial and economic literacy
-Instruction in reading, writing, study skills and other subjects necessary for success in education beyond high school
-Academic, financial or personal counseling
-Information on postsecondary education opportunities
-Assistance in completing college entrance and financial aid applications
-Assistance in preparing for college entrance exams
-Information on the full range of Federal Student financial aid programs and benefits
-Guidance and assistance in alternative education programs for secondary school dropouts that lead to receipt of a regular secondary school diploma, entry into general education development (GED) programs or postsecondary education
VUB is one of eight Federal TRIO Programs designed to provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities, so they can progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)
Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) is a benefit offered to unemployed veterans and provides up to 12 months of training assistance. This is a great option for those not eligible for any other VA education benefit programs. Other general eligibility requirements are as follows:
-You must be at least 35, but no more than 60 years old
-You must be unemployed on the date of application
-You cannot have received a dishonorable discharge
-You cannot be receiving VA compensation due to unemployability
-You cannot be enrolled in a federal or state job training program
While a move from the military to an educational setting can be quite a transition, there are numerous programs available to veterans to help provide direction and assistance and to manage costs. In many cases, a solid educational foundation will prepare you for a successful career in the civilian world.
Ashley Feinstein is a certified money coach and founder of Knowing Your Worth, where she empowers her clients to redefine success on their own terms by knowing their value and fearlessly going for it. Find out more, check out her blog at KnowingYourWorth.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at The Fiscal Femme.
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