To help veterans understand their eligibility for the GI Bill®, the VA created the GI Bill Comparison Tool. Before you start to use it, find out what all of the options mean here.
The GI Bill® – also known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – is a law that provides various benefits to returning veterans.
The original GI Bill expired decades ago (the mid-1950s). The term is now an umbrella term of sorts that includes multiple benefit programs for vets. The goal is to assist you in your transition back into civilian life and give you the tools you need to lay a solid foundation going forward.
Some of the benefits included in the GI Bill are educational. It helps veterans further their education and learn skills that will help them land a good job. The comparison tool helps veterans understand their eligibility for educational benefits.
What We Cover In This Guide to the GI Bill Comparison Tool
- What You Can Learn from the GI Comparison Tool
- GI Bill-Approved Certifications: Advancing a Veteran’s Skills and Education
- On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeship Programs
- GI Bill Housing Allowance for Vets
- GI Bill Requirements – Is Everyone Eligible for Benefits?
- What If Veterans Cannot Find the Right Program for Their Needs?
- Woods and Woods – Helping Veterans Get the Benefits They are Entitled to Receive
What You Can Learn from the GI Comparison Tool
The VA wants to make it easier for veterans to find VA-approved schools, apprenticeship programs, and employers. The GI Comparison Tool helps vets learn about these programs, as well as providing an estimate of GI benefits.
Is the School Approved Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Veterans can use the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (or the Post-9/11 GI Bill) at:
- Community colleges
- Trade schools
- Trade schools
- Flight schools
- On-the-job training
A veteran’s GI Bill benefits can also cover the cost of:
- Licensing and certification tests
- National exams
- Tutorial assistance
The GI Comparison Tool helps veterans find VA-approved schools that will give them the best job and higher-educational job opportunities.
Is the Program or Institution Accredited?
Additionally, the GI Comparison Tool will identify whether a school is accredited or not. Accreditation is important for veterans who begin their education at one institution and who eventually want to transfer to another school, particularly a four-year university.
The US Department of Education has a database of accredited programs and institutions that can help veterans make informed decisions.
What Kinds of Guidelines are in Place for Institutions and Programs?
To receive federal funding, an institution must meet certain guidelines called Principles of Excellence. According to the VA, schools that abide by these standards must:
- Provide veteran students with a form proving the cost of a program is covered 100%
- Provide educational plans
- Not participating in aggressive or fraudulent recruiting techniques
- Accommodate Reservists and Service Members who are not able to attend class due to service requirements
- Provide access to financial and academic advisement
- Ensure that programs are accredited before enrollment
- Ensure their refund policies align with Title IV policies (if a vet discontinues their education, all refundable funds must be returned to financial aid entities within 45 days)
How are GI Bill Months Calculated?
To help veterans determine their benefits, the VA, as well as various educational institutions, offers a GI Bill usage calculator and a GI Bill credit hours chart.
- GI Bill Usage Calculator: The veteran enters which semester they will be attending school, whether they will be enrolling in VA education full-time or part-time, their credits, student level, and more. The calculator will show the veteran what (if anything) they need to pay out of pocket.
- GI Bill Credit Hours Chart: To determine VA benefits for a veteran, a veteran must obtain their student status. Their status is based on their course load. A GI Bill Credit Hours Chart shows what VA education credit hours constitute a part-time or full-time VA education.
What about a VA full-time student online? Distance learning is covered under the GI Bill, which is excellent news since the COVID-19 pandemic has many schools utilizing online resources.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Are Summer Classes Covered?
Yes! Taking courses at a community college or university during the summer months is an ideal way to achieve more units and potentially graduate with a degree sooner than expected. If the courses are offered by a VA-approved institution, they will be covered under the GI Bill and count toward VA education credit hours.
GI Bill-Approved Certifications: Advancing a Veteran’s Skills and Education
Many people – including those that have served this country – dream of achieving a college education. Having a degree can help with a future job search or with the ability to achieve even higher levels of education.
Here is an example of what you can learn from the GI Comparison Tool about educational institutions.
San Francisco State University GI Bill:
The GI Comparison Tool shows how many other veterans are attending the school (as of November 2020: 876). It also shows how much the school receives each year ($7,266/year), the housing allowance ($4,614/month), book stipend ($1,000/year), and the total you will receive each year ($42,526).
What if a veteran wants to attend school abroad? The VA will cover tuition costs if the school meets their requirements. Veterans can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to examine coverage in various countries like the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and more.
To get a clear idea of what benefits they can expect, the veteran needs to enter the following information into the Comparison Tool.
- Military status
- Which GI Bill they will be using (Post-9/11, Montgomery GI Bill, Select Reserve GI Bill, Dependence Education Assistance, Veteran Readiness and Employment)
- Cumulative active service
- Tuition costs
- Whether they are in-state or out-of-state students
- Whether they will be a part-time or full-time VA student online or in person
VA-Approved Trade Schools and Flight Schools
A veteran does not have to attend a four-year university to receive GI Bill benefits. They can also attend a trade school to learn a skill that will garner them a well-paying job.
Veterans can train to become:
- Computer network architects
- Cardiovascular technologist
- Database administrator
- Construction project manager
- Dental hygienist
- Radiation therapist
- Medical sonographer
- Occupational therapy assistant
- Computer programmer
Veterans who have always dreamed of becoming a pilot can see their dream to fruition by attending VA-approved, Part 141 flight schools. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires that Part 141 flight schools:
- Create a structured training program with a syllabus
- Have dedicated training facilities
- Have instructor oversight
- Use a variety of training aids
- Use FAA-approved course curricula
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeship Programs
In addition to educational and vocational programs, the GI Bill allows for on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs.
- On-the-job training (OJT): Nearly every job requires a period of OJT to learn the skill set necessary to do the job well. Employers provide hands-on experience to new employees in a structured environment and with oversight, either from a well-trained peer or supervisor. Sometimes included are formal lessons. The training ends once the employee has a handle on how to do their job well.
- Apprenticeship: An apprenticeship is common amongst skilled trades. For instance, if a veteran wanted to become an electrician, they would need to spend years learning directly from masters (journeymen) of the trade. Licensure is often required to do the work. Serving as an apprentice is one of the requirements in obtaining a license. Trade classes are often required during VA-approved apprenticeship programs as well.
The GI Bill covers the cost of books and materials each month, as well as housing.
In this video, one of our clients that was in the Navy didn’t realize the ringing in his ears was a VA disability until long after his service.
GI Bill Housing Allowance for Vets
The GI Bill housing allowance allows veterans to focus 100% on their education instead of having to get a job to cover rent.
The veterans’ housing allowance is calculated based on where the veteran is attending classes. Even if the vet is attending classes virtually, however, they will receive funds for housing if their training/education institution meets GI Bill requirements.
Do spouses get Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) with the GI Bill? A beneficiary of the GI Bill cannot receive a monthly housing allowance (MHA) if a servicemember is on active duty. The exception to this is dependent children. Dependents can receive BAH, the amount of which is dependent on the zip code of the school.
The veteran can choose to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their children or spouse. In this case, the payments will go to the school and the recipient of the transfer. It is important to note that when benefits are transferred, the veteran is not entitled to receive them.
At Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, we don’t help you with your GI Bill, but we do help you with your VA disability application. Most. of the paperwork and hoops that you jump through for VA disability set you up for easy application for your GI Bill. Especially in DIC cases or surviving dependent claims, you’ll want an experienced lawyer to help you with the paperwork.
GI Bill Requirements – Is Everyone Eligible for Benefits?
To receive GI Bill benefits, veterans must meet certain eligibility requirements.
- Active duty requirements (can be cumulative or all at once – the amount of time depends on which GI Bill a veteran chooses)
- Must be honorably discharged
Some educational institutions also have requirements for veterans to receive tuition assistance or fee waivers. For instance, the Florida College System waives fees for recipients of the Purple Heart or other combat decoration considered superior in precedence, such as:
- V-designation Bronze Star
- V-designation Legion of Merit
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Medal of Honor
- Silver Star
- Navy Cross
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Air Force Cross
What If Veterans Cannot Find the Right Program for Their Needs?
While there are multiple opportunities for veterans, that does not mean everyone is going to find the best program for their needs and circumstances.
Should you just give up? Absolutely not. The VA updates the GI Comparison Tool regularly. Veterans should check back often to evaluate new programs that could fit their unique needs. Typically, the VA updates the list of approved institutions and programs every quarter, though information about programs and coverage is updated daily.
You can also contact the school directly. Some training programs have unpublished benefits for veterans that are offered on an as-needed, as-asked-for basis.
Caution Flags: Pay Attention to the Warnings
Not all programs are created equal, which is why the GI Comparison Tool flags certain programs. A caution flag is an indicator that potential students should consider certain factors before proceeding with enrollment. Typically, a flag is issued to programs that are under legal or regulatory scrutiny by the Department of Defense and/or the Department of Education.
Some reasons why an institution might be flagged:
- Deceptive practice (misleading or erroneous statements used in sales and advertising, as well as during the enrollment process)
- Heightened cash monitoring (an institute may face additional oversight for federal or financial compliance issues)
- Accreditation issues (a school that has had their accreditation status revoked or is in the midst of appeal or is on probation)
- A late or missing audit
- Failed or questionable administrative capacity
- Being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General
- The program is under review for issues such as failure to return Title IV funds
- The program or institution does not accept the Post 9/11 GI Bill
- The institute is in the midst of or facing a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission
Woods and Woods – Helping Veterans Get the Benefits They are Entitled to Receive
Veterans sacrifice a lot for this country. It is only right that when they come home, the country takes care of them. It is a mark of honor and appreciation for all the servicemember has done — combat or not.
Unfortunately, getting these benefits is not always as easy or straightforward as it should be, which is why veterans need a legal team on their side.
The Woods and Woods legal team helps vets determine what disability benefits they are entitled to. With 35 years of experience and numerous satisfied veterans, we will fight for the rights of every disabled veteran so they can stress less and live a full, happy life.
A lot has changed with the GI Bill (and with college!) since the 80s. You’ll have to check the specific rules about the GI Bill you had and the one you may or may not be eligible for now.
Yes, the GI Bill has programs for trade school and apprenticeship programs that you may qualify for. Some even pay for your certifications.
Yes, they are separate administrations within the VA. If you already have TDIU, start working on your GI Bill and your education. If you don’t have TDIU, call us before you start applying to make sure you get all of the details right.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.