It’s been called the most significant piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. The “Greatest Generation” – champions of the free world, found release from combat, harnessing post-war anxiety into academic success. And when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act on June 22, 1944, he guaranteed a myriad of benefits ranging from educational support, job training, loan assistance for homes, farms or businesses and unemployment pay, to veterans of the Second World War. This treatise of veterans’ assistance came to be known as the GI Bill of Rights.
Reconstructed on several occasions in order to meet the needs and challenges of an ever-changing world, the GI Bill can seem like an uncharted battlefield to many service members returning home from far-flung climes. The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (also known as GI Bill 2.0) is no different – altruistic, yet extremely convoluted. In order to fully digest GI Bill 2.0, it’s imperative to compare it with its predecessor: the Montgomery GI Bill.
Comparing Post-9/11 GI Bill to the MGIB
In years past, service members enlisting in the military post-1985 were required to pay $1,200 towards their educational benefits. As of August 1, 2011 the Post 9/11 GI Bill came into being – allowing any service member serving 90 days of Active Duty since September 11, 2001, access to assistance – sans payment. Only a few requirements exist for participating veterans: serving a total of 36 months of Active Duty or honorable discharge due to a service related disability.
In a move to tackle current university fees, GI Bill 2.0 no longer pays a flat rate directly to veterans – rather, the VA pays 100% of in-state public school tuition directly to the college. Private university tuition caps in at $17,500 – something unheard of under the Montgomery GI Bill. Also, eligible students can pull stipends for both books and living expenses. These so-called “living allowances,” can range from $667 to $2,751 per month.
Contingent upon agreement of re-enlistment, currently serving troops with six years of Active Duty have the ability to transfer their educational benefits. They must quality for academic assistance themselves and have a spouse or dependent enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS). Whereas the Montgomery GI Bill’s benefit period spanned ten years, GI Bill 2.0 pushes it to fifteen – another great update to aging system.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill also expanded which programs veterans are eligible to use. Some educational programs include traditional college courses, including 2 and 4 year degrees, Master’s programs, vocational/technical training, flight training, national testing, certifications, licensing, and more.
One of the more innovative attributes of GI Bill 2.0 is the “Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program.” Totally ignored in previous education bills, the “Yellow Ribbon Program,” seeks to support veterans at the graduate school level. Private and public universities, who choose to participate in the syllabus, must offer scholarships of tuition forgiveness to veterans. Thereupon entering into an agreement with the Veterans Administration, the college will be compensated, dollar-for-dollar, with what they provided – up to the full cost of tuition.
Here is a brief recap of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits compared to the MGIB:
- Buy-in Requirement: Post-9/11: None; MGIB: $1,200
- Who receives payment: Post-9/11: Educational institution receives tuition; MGIB: Veteran receives payment
- Book stipend and living expenses: Post-9/11: Yes; MGIB: None
- Expanded educational benefits: Post-9/11: Yes; MGIB: No
- Are benefits transferable? Post-9/11: Yes, under limited circumstances; MGIB: No
- Time limit: Post-9/11: 15 years; MGIB: 10 years
- Yellow Ribbon Program: Post-9/11: Yes; MGIB: No
If you are currently eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, but served at least 90 days of Active Duty after September 11, 2001, you may be able to transfer your benefits from the MGIB program to the GI Bill 2.0. In some cases, you may be able to add extra time to your GI Bill benefits if you have already used your MGIB benefits, and in limited cases, you can get a MGIB refund if you have exhausted your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 has certainly come a long way since its $500 allotments per school year to qualified veterans. Utilizing a broad spectrum of benefits, the Post-9/11 GI Bill tackles contemporary issues facing student veterans. It’s definitely worth exploring if you are eligible. Standby for further information on military education benefits, including private military scholarships, and more. And if you are ready to explore your benefits further, then check out these GI Bill education programs for more information about which degree program might be the best for your career goals.