Military Education Benefits: Using GI Bill for Online Education

military education benefits

Interested in using the GI Bill for online education? If you are, you must know the basics of military education benefits. In doing so, you can maximize your education benefits, too. Knowledge, after all, is empowerment. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. Known as the GI Bill, it provided financial aid for WWII veterans in their transition. The financial aid was for education, vocational training, unemployment insurance, and housing expenses. 

Today, the term “GI Bill benefits” refers to the education benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The benefits aid military and veteran students in achieving their personal and professional goals. These benefits also allow them to save time and money on their academic pursuits. 

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What’s the significance of the GI Bill? First, it paves the way for military and veteran students to earn their degrees. Earning a college degree brings many personal benefits. Higher-income potential, better access to services, and improved quality of life are a few.  

Second, educated active-duty personnel and veterans contribute to socioeconomic growth. Their significant contributions to more productive workplaces, entrepreneurship and innovation, and civic engagement deserve recognition. 

Today, more than 2.7 million military and veteran students use Post-GI Bill benefits. Their 47% six-year completion rate is higher than the 23% civilian completion rate. This proves that military education benefits at GI Bill-approved online colleges work. 

Note that online colleges for veterans and military students meet stringent VA criteria. Regional accreditation and military-specific policies are a must. Online colleges must also provide military-specific policies, student support services, and cost transparency.    

What Is the GI Bill?

Known as the GI Bill programs, these provide tuition benefits for military students. The original GI Bill lasted between 1944 and 1956. More than half of eligible veterans availed of its education and other benefits. Such was its impact that it was instrumental in the creation of the American middle class. 

The following laws expanded the benefits that active-duty service members and veterans receive.

Montgomery GI Bill

This is an active program with an opt-in feature. The Montgomery GI Bill has two components: 

  • The Active Duty component provides benefits to active-duty personnel and veterans. Eligibility requirements include at least two years of active duty and honorable discharge.
  • The Selected Reserve component provides benefits to Military Reserve and National Guard service members. There’s a six-year obligation requirement. 

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill (PGIB) provides eligible active-duty personnel and veterans expanded education benefits. Applicants must have been on active duty after September 10, 2001, for consideration. Eligible individuals can also transfer their unused benefits to qualified spouses and dependents. The benefits can translate to a full-ride scholarship plus books, supplies, and housing. 

Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

The VEAP provides veterans with financial aid for their college costs. Eligible applicants must have contributed to the program. The federal government matches the costs of a college education.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA)

The DEA program welcomes applications from eligible dependents of qualified veterans. The main eligibility requirement is either permanent and total disability or death due to a service-related condition.

Yellow Ribbon Program

A partnership between the VA and public and private colleges, The Yellow Ribbon program is a financial aid that covers tuition and fees exceeding the PGIB limit for private colleges. For the 2024-2025 academic year, it’s $28,937.09 maximum. The Yellow Ribbon program can cover the excess.

Forever GI Bill

The Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act is known as the Forever GI Bill. It removed the 15-year limitation on PGIB benefits and offered priority enrolment counseling for veterans. Other expanded benefits include vocational rehabilitation and work-study programs.

Note that the types and scope of education benefits vary between these programs. In general, the GI Bill programs offer the following benefits. 

  • Tuition and fees coverage for degree and certificate programs, flight training, and apprenticeships
  • Monthly housing benefits, usually based on the area’s cost of living 
  • Yearly stipend for books and supplies, up to $1,000 depending on the program 
  • Tuition assistance top-ups, such as the Yellow Program and the Department of Defense Supplements Tuition Assistance
  • Coverage for costs of national testing programs, such as SAT/ACT, LSAT, and GMAT 
  • Relocation assistance 
  • Tutorial assistance 

Check out the Veterans Readiness and Employment program, too. Disabled veterans can access counseling, training, and job placement services. Education funding aid for tuition, fees, and books is also available. 

  • Licensing and certification

Coverage for up to $2,000 in licensing and certification fees is also available. 

  • Work-study programs

The VA has its work-study programs for military and veteran students, too. These can be on-campus and off-campus jobs. 

When combined, these benefits enable military and veteran students to earn their degrees. These are cost-saving measures that lessen the risk of overwhelming student loan debt.

Benefits of Online Education for Military Students

Military friendly online colleges offer many benefits for military and veteran students. The military-specific accommodations recognize the unique challenges that they face.

Affordability

The extensive military education benefits make college more affordable for them. Plus, online education itself can be more affordable than on-campus programs. Military families appreciate affordability, considering their high relocation and living costs. 

The best online colleges for military and veteran students have GI Bill and Yellow Program certifications. 

Flexibility and convenience

Online programs enable 24/7 access to learning materials from anywhere in the world. Military students appreciate the absence of geographical barriers. Plus, it’s a great thing to adjust your study schedule based on your service obligations.

Little to no learning disruptions

Online colleges for military and veteran students make allowances for unpredictable deployments. Asynchronous courses and student support services contribute to continued learning.

Little to no learning disruptions 

Online colleges for military and veteran students make allowances for unpredictable deployments. Asynchronous courses and student support services contribute to continued learning.

Accommodations for military families

Even families of active-duty members and veterans enjoy these benefits. The transferability of unused benefits is a common benefit. 

Suffice it to say that online programs and military students are a match made in academic heaven. 

Finding GI Bill Approved Online Colleges

Many institutions market themselves as military friendly colleges to attract more students. Don’t be fooled. You must verify their claims by performing these steps.

Visit the official VA website.

Use the WEAMS Institution Search tool for a list of VA-approved colleges and universities. These institutions have official approval for benefits under the GI Bill programs.  

Check the official college websites.

Even if the online military college has VA approval, it still pays to verify its status. Review its regional and programmatic accreditations. Check the quality of its online programs, student support services, and overall reputation.

Contact the military and veteran student affairs office.

Ask for detailed information about PGIB benefits and other military-specific financial aid. Review the eligibility requirements and application process. Ask about your eligibility and the possible benefits you can receive. 

Ask questions until the answers seem satisfactory to you. You can make an informed choice in the best online college for military students in your case.

Use the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool

Don’t settle for the first online college with attractive military-specific programs, either. Instead, use the GI Bill Comparison Tool first. 

The tool provides extensive information about colleges that accept PGIB benefits. These include estimated tuition and fees, housing allowance, and books and supplies stipend. Be sure to use the benefits calculator and side-by-side comparison feature.

Maximizing GI Bill Benefits

Be sure to plan for maximizing your GI Bill benefits, too. You can talk to the financial aid advisors at the military friendly online schools you’re interested in. But it’s also a good idea to keep these strategies in mind. 

Use your benefits strategically.

The right timing is essential in maximizing your education benefits. Perhaps you can earn an associate degree at a community college first. You will apply for federal, state, and institutional student aid, not for military benefits. 

Then, you can earn your bachelor’s degree at one of the best online schools for military students. Your military education benefits will likely cover your entire studies.

Take at least one on-campus course per semester.

Many military friendly schools online offer hybrid programs or allow students to take on-campus courses. This way, you can receive a higher housing allowance.

Earn as many credit hours as you can per semester.

The GI Bill covers full-time enrollment for a specific time frame. You’re well-advised to take on as many courses as you can for this reason. Once your benefits run out, paying out-of-pocket becomes the norm.

Conclusion

If you’re eligible, you must use your GI Bill benefits for an online degree. You will receive financial aid that can result in significant money savings. Your time-to-degree can even be shortened through transfer credits from your military experience. 

Once accepted into an online program, you must take advantage of its student support services. As a military or veteran student, you face unique challenges that these services can address. Your academic success partly lies in your willingness to maximize these military-friendly services.