Understanding Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits – Eligibility, Payment Rates, Monthly Housing Allowance, and More

Post-9/11 GI Bill Eligibility - active duty after Sept. 11, 2001. Determine your eligibility, payment rates, monthly housing allowance, and much more.
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Table of Contents
  1. Post-9/11 GI Bill Basics
    1. Tiered Eligibility Percentage Payment Structure
  2. What Are the Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits?
    1. Tuition and Fee Payments
    2. GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)
  3. What if I Don’t Want to Earn a College Degree?
  4. Alternative Training Rates
    1. Correspondence School
    2. National Testing Programs or Licensing and Certification Tests
    3. Vocational Flight School Training
  5. What Does The Montgomery GI Bill Offer?
    1. Comparing the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
  6. Obtaining Montgomery GI Bill Refunds
  7. Transferring Your GI Bill Benefits to a Family Member
  8. How Do You Apply for GI Bill Benefits?
  9. What Are You Waiting For?

Are you a military veteran or active-duty service member of the U.S. armed forces who has served at least 30 days or more since Sept. 10, 2001? Then, under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you’re eligible to receive education and training benefits to help you avoid student loan debt.

Understanding Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits doesn’t have to be confusing. When these benefits are broken down, it’s easy to know when, where and how you’ll be able to start receiving your GI Bill education and training benefits.

Post-9/11 GI Bill Basics

Any veteran who has served at least 90 days of active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, starting after Sept. 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge qualifies for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. 

To qualify for the maximum amount of benefits payable, you have to have served for at least three years on active duty.

Tiered Eligibility Percentage Payment Structure

The Post-9/11 GI Bill program has many different payments which are structured around an eligibility tier. The length of your service determines your eligibility percentage.

Member ServesPercentage of maximum benefit payable
At least 36 months100%
At least 30 continuous days on active duty and
must be discharged due to service-connected disability or received a Purple Heart
At least 30 months, but less than 36 months90%
At least 24 months, but less than 30 months80%
At least 18 months, but less than 24 months70%
At least 6 months, but less than 18 months60%
At least 90 days, but less than 6 months50%

It’s important to note that any service members who qualify for the active duty GI Bill, the reserve GI Bill, or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) can choose which benefit best fits their education needs. However, the REAP program is being shut down soon because the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are generally much better than REAP.

What Are the Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans are eligible to receive:

Tuition and Fee Payments

Students using the Post-9/11 GI Bill are eligible to receive all tuition and fee payments for an in-state school at the level of the maximum cost of public-university education in that state. Students attending a private or foreign university can receive benefits up to $25,162.14 during the academic year. 

Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, if you are attending a public institution of higher learning (IHL) as a non-resident student or are at a private IHL that is more expensive than the annual cap, you may be eligible for extra payments. 

Also, you may qualify for in-state tuition rates if you live in the state where you’re going to school, regardless of your former state of residence.

GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)

The GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance is generally the same as the military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for “E-5 with dependents.” Your rate is based on your school’s zip code, not your personal address, and it is paid at a percentage based on your actual training time.

Essentially, this means that full-time students will receive a higher MHA than part-time students. You can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to research MHA for the school you’re looking to attend.

There are some rules regarding MHA availability:

  • MHA is not available to active-duty service members, spouses of active-duty members using transferred benefits and those taking courses at or below half-time.
  • MHA is available to veterans taking at least a half-time load, spouses of veterans using transferred benefits, and children using transferred benefits.
  • Housing rates are determined on a case-by-case basis if your training is exclusively online with no in-classroom hours or if you are a veteran attending a foreign school, your housing rates are listed as TBD.

Additional benefits:

  • A yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 is paid proportionately based on enrollment.
  • A one-time rural benefit payment of $500 may be payable to certain veterans who are relocating from highly rural areas.

What if I Don’t Want to Earn a College Degree?

The benefits available to veterans are the same for those who wish to attend a non-college-degree-granting institution as those in a traditional college setting. For example, all net costs for tuition and fees can’t exceed maximum in-state public-college tuition. And you may still be eligible to receive MHA, the books and supplies stipend and the one-time rural benefit.

The MHA rates differ for apprenticeship and on-the-job training, however. For example, apprenticeship and on-the-job training rates are as follows, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

  • For the first six months of training, you can receive 100% of your applicable MHA.
  • For the second six months of training, you can receive 80% of your applicable MHA.
  • For the third six months of training, you can receive 60% of your applicable MHA.
  • For the fourth six months of training, you can receive 40% of your applicable MHA.
  • For the remainder of your pursuit of training, you can receive 20% of your applicable MHA.

Alternative Training Rates

You can also use your GI Bill benefits to pursue alternative training such as the options below.

Correspondence School

The net costs of correspondence school cannot exceed $12,221.58 per academic year.

National Testing Programs or Licensing and Certification Tests

  • You can use your GI Bill to be reimbursed up to $2,000 per test. Your entitlement will be charged one month for every $2,099.24 paid to you, rounded down to the nearest non-zero month. This basically means that you can charge even low-cost tests to your GI Bill benefits, but you’ll be charged for an entire month of GI Bill benefits per test.

Vocational Flight School Training

According to multiple flight school websites, the net costs for your flight school training cannot exceed $14,378.35 per academic year. This cap applies to all classes and enrollments that begin during that academic year, regardless of the year the class or enrollment is completed.

What Does The Montgomery GI Bill Offer?

Many service members sign up for Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits when they join the military or are automatically eligible for the MGIB-Selected Reserve when they join the Guard or Reserves. The MGIB is different from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In general, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a more valuable benefit than the MGIB.

Comparing the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)

The following table provides an overview of the benefits under both GI Bill programs.

Benefits and CostsPost-9/11MGIB
Buy-in requirementNone$1,200
Minimum length of service
to qualify
90 days of active aggregate service (after Sept. 10, 2001) or 30 days continuous service if discharged due to a disabilityTwo years continuous enlistment (minimum duty varies by service date, branch, etc.)
Who receives payment?Educational institution receives tuitionVeteran receives payment
Books and supplies stipend$1,000 per year is paid to the student at the beginning of the termNone
Housing stipendBasic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate at “E-5 with Dependents;” paid monthlyNone
Expanded educational benefitsYesNo
Are benefits transferable?Yes, under limited circumstancesNo
Time limit to useNo expiration for veterans discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013

15-year expiration for veterans discharged on or prior to Dec. 31, 2012
10 years
Yellow Ribbon ProgramYesNo

Obtaining Montgomery GI Bill Refunds

Many service members want to know if they are eligible for a refund for the $1,200 they paid into the MGIB. Montgomery GI Bill refunds are only available to service members who are eligible for both the MGIB and the Post-9/11 GI Bill and who use their entire Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. Once they deplete their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, they can request a refund for the amount of the MGIB they did not use. Refunds are prorated based on the amount of the MGIB they used.

Transferring Your GI Bill Benefits to a Family Member

Did you know that if you are an active-duty service member, you have the ability to transfer benefits to family members? The Department of Defense is “authorized to allow individuals who, on or after Aug. 1, 2009, have served at least six years in the armed forces and who agree to serve at least another four years in the armed forces to transfer unused entitlement to their spouse,” according to the VA.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and Public Health System personnel can also transfer their benefits to eligible dependents.

Members who are considering transferring their benefits to their spouse or children should do so ASAP. Congress is considering making changes to the transfer rules that may affect the Military Housing Allowance for spouses and dependents. Those who transfer benefits now will be grandfathered into the current plan, which offers dependents the same MHA benefits as veterans.

How Do You Apply for GI Bill Benefits?

If you meet the minimum service requirement for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you are automatically eligible to receive benefits. All you have to do is use the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) through the eBenefits portal to get the ball rolling toward using your benefits.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you meet the criteria for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, find a VA-approved program that you’re interested in and start using your benefits. You earned the opportunity to get free education and training, so take advantage of those benefits to improve your life without having to take on student loans.

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About Kristi Muse

Kristi Muse is a military reservist spouse and freelance writer. She loves writing about strategies to save military families money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life. Kristi shares her own experiences about debt and parenthood on her blog Moderate Muse.

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  1. Doug Strand says

    I served in the US Army from 1982 until 2004. I had the Post 9/11 GI Bill but it expired in August 2019. Is there a way to get an extension past the 15 year cutoff? If I want to attend something like gunsmithing classes at Sonora Desert Institute, can I tap vocational type college funds? Any advice will be appreciated.

  2. Jean Morrow says

    I recently separated from the Air Force and am receiving Post 9-11 benefits to go to school. I am a full-time student and am not working. I‘m trying to sign up for healthcare through Healthcare.gov and am wondering if any part of my Post 9-11 benefits should be counted as income when applying for healthcare. Specifically, is the housing portion of my benefit counted as income? Thank you for this post. It‘s so nice to finally find answers.

  3. Barb says

    By June of 2020 I will retiring after being in the service f be after 24 years of service. Because I passed my 16 year limit to transfer, sadly I dont qualify. This is something I learned so I should have the option to transfer and help my child finish college. She served just as much if not more when I had to leave her behind for deployment, missing her birthdays, school events, holidays…etc. I’m a single mom, with no support and i’m having to spend over $24,000 annually tuition, room and board, books. Now that I’m retiring, I will be needing to apply for student loan after retirement to put her to school. I dont regret serving my country for 24 years; I just hope the law makers will someday give the retirees what they worked hard for.

  4. brandon m zoeller says

    i served more than 90 days in a combat zone, was injured and now iam 100% disabled. iam almost positive that i rate both bills. how do i see if i qualify?

    • Angie says

      Go the the VA.gov benefits page and Apply for benefits… also go to your state employment office and ask for a disabled vet rep (DVOP) to see what they can help with. Also get a disability vet rep through the DAV or American Legion, one is usually at an VA medical clinic or hospital. They will help you get the benefits as well. Hope this helps!

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