By C. Todd
Lopez, Army News Service
D.C. — A full ride
to college is on the way for qualified Soldiers and veterans.
"Post-9/11 Veteran’s Education Assistance Act Of 2008,"
sometimes called the "Post-9/11 G.I. Bill," paves the way
for thousands of qualified Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Marines and
military veterans to get a complete four-year degree at no cost to
and veterans can begin applying for benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I.
Bill, beginning Aug. 1. Benefits from the program can be paid out for
a total of 36 months. Under a typical degree program, where students
attend school for nine months at a time and are then off during the
summer months, the plan would allow veterans to get a four-year degree
while attending school in residence.
moved from a program that pays in essence a flat rate to individuals,
to a program that is based on what it is actually costing an
individual to go to college," said Keith Wilson, director of
education services for Veteran’s Affairs.
the Montgomery G.I. Bill program, the VA sent out individual checks to
recipients, and recipients used the money any way they saw fit: for
tuition, housing, food, etc., Wilson said. But the payment was not
based on how much their tuition cost.
was up to the individual to come up with whatever additional money
they needed to go to school, if any." Wilson said.
new program changes all that. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, Wilson said,
pays for tuition by sending payments directly to the school. It also
pays for student housing by sending a payment to the student. An
additional payment for books and supplies also goes directly to the
the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, a Soldier may be entitled to tuition payments
equal to the cost of the most expensive public, undergraduate,
in-state tuition and fees in his or her home state. For instance: a
student learns that the most-expensive public state school in the
state of their home of record costs $1,250 for a semester of courses.
If the student opts to attend a private school instead, that school
will receive up to $1,250 a semester for tuition.
a student can get up to the full cost of tuition for the school they
attend," Wilson said.
is not the only benefit extended to potential college-goers. For
students attending school more than half the time, the Post-9/11 G.I.
Bill also pays housing costs, up to a rate equivalent to the Basic
Allowance for Housing rate for an E-5 with dependents in the ZIP code
where the school is located.
a student attends school in Charlotte, N.C, for instance, the BAH rate
in the area for an E-5 with dependents is $1,179. The student would
then receive that much money for rent each month — even if he or she
has no dependents.
on active duty may tap in to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and apply
benefits toward tuition, books and supplies. However, active-duty
Soldiers are not entitled to receive the housing allowance from the
are also entitled to a yearly stipend of up to $1,000 to cover the
cost of books and supplies, and students from highly rural areas who
are transferring to a school may also be entitled to a one-time
payment of $500.
one of the best-known benefits of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is the
ability to transfer the benefits to one’s dependents.
a lot of folks, that’s a key issue," Wilson said of the change.
"That section of the bill was specifically designed as a
retention tool. And it is set up for those individuals who have served
six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve an additional period
of service after Aug. 1, 2009."
details of who may transfer benefits to their family members, however,
are being set by the military services, not the Veterans
Administration. That policy has not yet been determined.
the MGIB, which required Soldiers to pay up to $1,200 to participate,
the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill requires no such payment. All Soldiers who
served after Sept. 11, 2001 may qualify for some or all of the
benefits, depending on how long they served. Additionally, the program
also serves National Guard and Reserve servicemembers, depending on
how much time they were mobilized for active duty.
amount of active service a member has after 9/11 determines what
percentage of benefits they can receive under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
The lowest level is for those that have between 90 days and six months
of active service after 9/11 or 40 percent.
percentages go on up until you reach the point where you have 36
months of active duty — and those individuals qualify for 100
percent of everything," Wilson said.
who invested in the MGIB by paying the $1,200 buy-in for the program,
and who elect to participate in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, will be
refunded a proportional amount of their buy-in, after all entitlement
under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is used.
who do not use all their entitlement under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, do
not receive a refund of their MGIB buy-in. Additionally, those who
paid into the $600 MGIB "buy-up" program, which increased
the benefits under MGIB, will not receive a refund for that money.
said that the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is not the only game in town for
Soldiers. There are other programs the VA still administers that can
help Soldiers get their education, including the MGIB (active duty),
the MGIB (selective reserve), and the Reserve Educational Assistance
Program. About 400,000 individuals were taking advantage of those
programs in fiscal year 2008.
previous programs are still available," he said. "They are
still in existence, it is just that we have a fourth program we are
do need to clearly understand their educational goals as well as
understand all available programs to ensure they make the best use of
their educational opportunities. For many people, they are going to
receive a higher benefit under this program than they would have
received in the other programs that we still continue to administer.
Potentially, a lot more people will find college affordable."
said it is important to understand the new program may not be the
program best suited for an individual’s needs. Such factors as type
of training and availability of other educational assistance are
important factors to consider before deciding which program to use, he
new program does not cover all the kinds of training the older
programs do," Wilson said. "For instance, on-the-job
training, apprenticeship training, or flight training — those types
of things are only covered under the MGIB, not the new program."
under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill can be used for all levels of degree
programs, however. The program allows Soldiers to earn a second
degree, a master’s degree or even a doctorate. About 8 percent of
the MGIB beneficiaries use the program toward graduate training,
or veterans who bought into the MGIB and who have already tapped into
that program can still transfer the remainder of their benefits to the
Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program, Wilson said. Both programs offer 36
months of "eligibility," which means that a Soldier or
veteran can draw benefits for 36 months from one program or the other.
I use 30 months under program A (MGIB), I can transition to program B
(the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill) and get six months of coverage there,"
information about the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is available at the VA Web
site at http://www.va.gov. A pamphlet
of the program is available at the Web site http://www.gibill.va.gov/pamphlets/CH33/CH33_Pamphlet.pdf.
more information about the G.I. Bill or the State of Wisconsin
Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill, eligible personnel can call their Veterans
Service Office. The number for Monroe County is 608-269-8726 or