Though heralded as one of the most significant pieces of legislation in history, the GI Bill almost didn’t come to pass. Known as The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (more commonly the GI Bill of Rights) it was almost stopped at the Congressional level as members of the House and Senate debated the finer details of the law.
Designed to assist veterans assimilating into civilian life, many people had concerns about exactly how that was to take place. This included concerns about sending battle-hardened veterans into colleges and universities, a privilege once reserved for only the rich.
The main goal was to prevent further misfortune such as when World War I veterans were discharged with a mere $60 allowance for their services and a train ticket home.
Education was clearly seen as the key to success for our veterans. During the Great Depression, some veterans had a difficult time making a living for themselves and their families. Congress was trying to intervene and change this situation.
Millions took advantage of the GI Bill’s home loan guaranty (different than today’s VA Loan program). The veteran’s administration backed almost $2.4 million in home loans for World War II veteran’s and their families.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill is the”revamped” version of the original GI Bill of Rights, and the program that most veterans are familiar with. To be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill , military members were required to “buy in” at a cost of $1,200 during their first few days of military service. Once they paid the initial buy-in fee, they were eligible to receive a monthly stipend while attending a qualified educational or trade program. The GI Bill is available to Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve.
Selected Reserve programs are available members of the Selected Reserve including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are also included.
An educational assistance program is available for those seeking a degree, certificate, or correspondence course. These also include cooperative training, independent study programs, apprenticeships and on the job training. If you’re eligible for this program, you may be entitled to benefits of up to 36 months of education. In most cases, the GI Bill is a use or lose proposition – any benefits not used within 10 years of discharge will be forfeited without receiving a refund on the $1,200 buy-in fee. Here is more detailed information about GI Bill eligibility.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) was a program brought about to replace the GI Bill. It was a cost saving measure that was widely unpopular and was eventually replaced by the revamped Montgomery GI bill. There are still military members in service and veterans who are eligible for VEAP. If you first entered the service between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985, and opened a contribution before April 1, 1987, contributing at least $25 to $2,700, then were discharged or released from active military service, you qualify for VEAP.
If you elected to make contributions from your military pay to participate in VEAP, your contributions were matched on a $2 to $1 basis by the government. These benefits are yours to use for your degree, certificate, correspondence school, apprenticeship or on the job training program, as well as vocational flight training programs.
You have 10 years from your release date to use your VEAP benefits. If you don’t use funds you pain in and were entitled to, your portion remaining in the fund will be automatically refunded. Additional information about the VEAP program.
Post 9-11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to those individuals who have served at least 90 days of aggregate service. Service must have begun on or after September 11, 2001, or servicemen must have been discharged with a service connected disability within 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to qualify for this bill.
Approved training includes graduate, undergraduate degrees, vocational and technical training. All programs must be offered by an institution of higher learning that has been approved for GI Bill benefits.
The GI Bill offers servicemen an opportunity to further his or her education and obtain home ownership through the various programs available. Be sure to take advantage of these GI Bill programs as soon as possible after discharge.