Heralded as one of the most important pieces of legislation to ever emerge from Congress, the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, then known as the GI Bill of Rights (commonly known as the GI Bill today), was put in place much to the chagrin of many politicians, who questioned the wisdom of paying unemployed veterans $20 a week, fearing that they would not seek gainful employment. There were also those who questioned sending war-hardened veterans to colleges and universities – at the time higher education was an activity reserved for the wealthy. It was rare to see servicemen go from military to college back in 1944; however, forward thinking won out and the GI Bill became law. The Bill is credited with massive positive impact on the United States socially, politically and economically.
In 1984, Congressman Gillespie V. Montgomery reworked the GI Bill to significantly enhance the benefits; at the time the new improved GI Bill became known as the “Montgomery GI Bill.” College for Military personnel was a passion for Montgomery and is evident in this revised legislation.
The GI Bill underwent a face lift again in 2008, and further enhancements to the education part of the bill were added, including a living allowance, money for books and supplies and transferability of benefits to one’s family. We discuss the GI Bill and related GI Bill benefits below.
Montgomery GI Bill (“GI Bill”)
The newest version of the GI Bill provides significant benefits to active servicemen who have committed two or more years to the military. This bill pays a total of $51,000 (indexed for inflation) and pays for college tuition, business, technical or vocational training, distance learning, correspondence learning, flight training, licensing and certification exams, and for those that have retired from the military – apprenticeship or job training.
The GI Bill will pay for 36 academic months of tuition (if one goes to school full-time, 9 months a year – summers off, this covers the entire four-year bachelor’s degree) at a rate of $1,426 per month. It is available to both active and retired military personnel as long as they have completed 2 years of active military service.
The recipient of the GI Bill benefit must have a high school degree or high school equivalency diploma before pursuing their higher education.
Post 9/11 GI Bill (“911 GI Bill”)
This is an interesting variation of the GI Bill above, the 911 GI Bill provides a wider scope of payment based on amount of active duty. This means that those in the reserves who have been called up to serve get credit for their “full-time” status. The benefit pays a percentage of the highest “in state” tuition for any state college in the state of choice. The percentage is based on the serviceman’s time served in active duty. The schedule is as follows:
90 days to 5.99 months – 40% of maximum state tuition
6 months to 11.99 months – 50%
12 months to 17.99 months – 60%
18 months to 23.99 months – 70%
24 to 29.99 months – 80%
30 to 35.99 months – 90%
36 months + 100%
30 days + if service related disability occurs – 100%
This benefit applies to all branches of the military and Reserves as well as the National Guard. The 911 GI Bill applies to anyone who served after 9/10/2001. It also provides a modest amount of living allowance, books and supplies and a relocation stipend for those that meet certain criteria.
Select Reserve GI Bill (SR GIBill)
SR GIBill is for reservists only. It provides for $11,000 of education benefits over a 36 academic month period (similar measurement to the Montgomery GI Bill above – i.e. four years at 9 months a year).
The SR GIBill pays for college tuition, business, technical or vocational training, distance learning, correspondence learning, flight training, licensing and certification exams, and for those that are retired, apprenticeship or job training.
The requirement is that the Reservist commits to a 6-year obligation and complete a high school degree or equivalent.
Reserve Education Assistance Program (“REAP”)
This is a $40,000 benefit program for National Guardsman and Reservists who have been called to active duty due to war or emergency (as declared by the President or Congress). Because of the quantum of payout it cannot be used with other VA educational benefits. The payment varies based on time on active duty. The active duty schedule is as follows:
90 days to 11.99 months – 570.40/mo
12 months to 23.99 months – 855.60/mo
24 months – $1,140.80/mo
The payment follows the same 9 month per year for four college years / 36 academic month schedule as the other benefits.
This article is a very abbreviated summary of the available military benefits. For a more detailed discussion please visit our friends at the GI Bill Benefits Page at the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Good luck and thank you to the US Military for keeping us safe.