What is the GI Bill®?

military student sitting next to someone and looking at their phone
Category: Military Support

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

If you’re a current or former military service member who is considering higher education, it’s wise to learn about the GI Bill®. Current and former service members of the U.S. military are entitled to the benefits provided by the bill, which include funding for education and training.

As you start to explore various college programs, having extra funding to cover expenses will help broaden your options. Here’s an introduction to the GI Bill and how to use it.

What is the GI Bill?

The term “GI Bill” most commonly refers to the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, a piece of legislation that granted federal aid to nearly 16 million World War II veterans to help them buy homes, pursue education and earn civilian jobs. Although that legislation expired in 1956, it continued in several forms following major wars, helping veterans access quality education and find gainful employment.

In 2008, Congress passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which was designed to offer the same benefits as the original GI Bill, including funding for four years of college. This bill was expanded to include members of the National Guard. Finally, in 2017, Congress passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” which removed the 15 year limit placed on veterans to take advantage of funding and assistance.

What are the benefits of the GI Bill?

One key benefit of the GI Bill is funding for tuition costs. Service members with at least 1,095 days of active service – at least 36 months – are entitled to have 100% of their tuition covered for any in-state public university, with the percentage of coverage decreasing by 10% for every five months less of service down to 50% at its lowest. For private universities, foreign schools or vocational training, the GI Bill offers up to $27,120.05, including online universities and classes. It’s worth noting that you’re not required to complete your education in one go while using GI Bill benefits; if you take a year off from school or otherwise break up your education, you’re still eligible to receive financial support.

In addition to tuition funding, the GI Bill also offers assistance for additional education expenses like books, housing and moving fees. Former service members who are studying away from home can receive a monthly housing allowance – or MHA – to help pay for student or off-campus housing. This allowance is linked to the amount of credits you take in a given year, and it’s calculated using the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing.

Finally, if you need additional financial assistance, you can enroll in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers additional funding to service members on a first-come, first-serve basis at participating schools. The GI Bill also offers financial assistance for money for tutors and additional opportunities through the Department of Veterans Affairs work study program.

How does the GI Bill work?

Current or former military service members can apply for GI Bill benefits online or via mail. You’ll need your basic personal information, including Social Security number, financial information, access to your service records, and information about the school or training program you’re planning to attend.

Once you apply, your application will be transmitted to and reviewed by the VA. After approximately 30 days, you’ll receive a decision about your tuition support and other allowances and can move forward.

Start your education journey with CSU

Here at Columbia Southern University, we provide support and resources specifically designed for military students. Additionally, military service members and their spouses and children are eligible for tuition discounts and scholarships.

Whether you pursue a military studies degree – offered by our recently-launched College of Military Studies and Leadership – or another of our popular degrees, our Veterans Center is available to work with you to help you get the most out of your education.

For more information about our online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

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