While I have previously done posts on Post-9/11 vs Montgomery GI Bill, MGIB-SR and REAP, Vocational Rehabilitation, Dependents’ Education Benefits, and one on other benefits available (called Beyond VA Education Benefits), there are still a few frequently asked questions that pop up, so I decided to do a post just about those. If you have more specific questions that haven’t been answered either here or in the other posts, let me know and I’ll see what I can do about finding you the answer.
1) Can I use the GI Bill and another VA education benefit at the same time?
Unfortunately, no. While many veterans qualify for more than one VA education benefit, you can only collect one at a time. However, you can combine VA education benefits with DoD education benefits, such as Tuition Assistance, in some cases, and/or with more traditional education benefits, such as PELL grant. The one semi-exception to this is if you qualify for both Post-9/11 GI Bill and Vocational Rehabilitation, then you may participate in Voc Rehab but elect to receive the Post-9/11 housing stipend instead of the Voc Rehab one. You can find out more about that here.
2) When can I expect my first housing payment after I start my GI Bill?
Ideally, your first housing payment will come on the first day of the first month after your classes start. That will usually be a partial payment. For example, classes started August 20th and you were paid on Sept 1st for the 11 days in August you attended class. One exception to this is if your program requires you to verify your attendance each month, as Montgomery GI Bill does. Then you are generally paid 5-7 days after you verify your attendance. Pay is often delayed, however, and it can be several months after classes start before you see your first payment. Check back tomorrow to see five common reasons pay can be delayed.
3) How do I know if the GI Bill covers the program I want to study?
All VA approved programs must be in a system called WEAMS. Colleges and universities are supposed to provide periodic (at least yearly) updates to VA about any changes to their programs so the VA can review them and enter approved programs into WEAMS. Just because one program is approved at a college doesn’t mean all programs offered by that college are approved. You can determine which programs are approved by searching WEAMS. You can do that here.
4) Can I use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for licenses or industry certifications?
Post-9/11 GI Bill can be used to pay for some testing required to obtain licenses and industry certifications. A few things to remember:
– You must already be approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill and you must not have hit your “delimiting date,” basically your GI Bill expiration date. If you haven’t applied for your benefits yet, you need to do that first. (You can find details on that here.)
– You pay for the test and the VA then reimburses you up to $2,000 per test. You can find the form you need to fill out here. You’ll need to submit receipts (be sure to make a copy for yourself in case something gets lost), so be sure to have those handy. Also, you should generally apply for reimbursement within one year of taking the test.
– VA then reduces your remaining entitlement by the equivalent month amount. Note I said month.
For example, for Post-9/11, any test up to $1,601.69 will cost you one month of entitlement. So, if you have 36 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill and you take a test that costs $250 and you want VA to reimburse you for that, they will and then you will only have 35 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill remaining. That means one less month you have available to pay for tuition, fees, books, and housing, so you want to be sure the test reimbursement is worth it.
For other VA education programs, such as Montgomery GI Bill, the amount deducted from your remaining entitlement is proportionate to the monthly housing rate.
Also, keep in mind that these amounts change July 31st each year, so you will want to check here to see what the current rates are.
– Not all tests are approved and not all approved tests are available in every state. You can search for the specific license or certification here. You can click on a state to see which ones are covered and where you can take them or you can search for the certification/license name and then click on “Institutional Profile” to see which state offers it.
There have already been several legislative changes that have impacted the GI Bill, so you should check the VA’s GI Bill website for the most up-to-date information. If you have more questions and you can’t find them here or on the GI Bill website, let me know and I’ll see if I can find the answer.
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