Today, the U.S. military has a number of programs in place to help active duty servicemembers, veterans and their families complete postsecondary education and vocational training. One of the benefits of being a member of the U.S. military is the wide ranging educational benefits available to help you transition to civilian life.
Programs such as the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Veterans Assistance Program (VEAP) and the Yellow Ribbon Program are designed to help veterans and their families finish their education.
Montgomery GI Bill versus the Post-9/11 GI Bill
Two of the most common--and popular programs--are the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Montgomery GI Bill. Active duty servicemembers qualify for 36 months of education benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill program. Benefits are payable for up to 10 years following discharge from service. The program pays for the following:
- Degree and certificate programs
- Flight training
- Apprenticeship training
- Technical or vocational courses
- Correspondence courses
Post-9/11 GI Bill. The newest revision to the GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect on August 1, 2009. Designed to enhance the GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides additional benefits, including:
- A living allowance called the housing stipend
- Benefits transfers to eligible dependents
- Additional educational expense coverage in the form of book stipends and the Yellow Ribbon Program
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational benefits for both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Unlike its predecessors, the Post-9/11 GI Bill calculates benefits based upon the highest in-state tuition rates from a public institution located in the state where you plan to study.
Benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill are traditionally payable for up to 15 years following discharge from service.
Military Education Benefits: VEAP and the Yellow Ribbon Program
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Servicemembers who make monthly contributions from their military pay qualify for this education benefit. The Federal government matches contributions on a $2 to $1 basis. Benefits last from 1 to 36 months--depending on your number of monthly contributions.
VEAP can be used for:
- Vocational flight training programs
- Degree programs
- Certificate programs
- Correspondence programs
- Apprenticeship programs
Benefits can be used for up to 10 years after discharge from the military and any unused benefits are refunded after that time.
The Yellow Ribbon Program. Part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program helps servicemembers secure a cost-free education. Over 1,100 colleges and universities have entered into voluntary agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover a portion--or the entire difference--in tuition and fees that are not covered by Post-9/11 GI Bill rates for that state.
Servicemembers who qualify for maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are eligible for Yellow Ribbon funding.
Military Education Benefits: Other Programs
In addition to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill, other education benefits are available. Leading programs include:
- Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program
- Veterans Upward Bound Program (VUB)
- Student Loan Repayment (LRP)
Completing Your Military Education Online
Returning to the classroom is a logical step to remaining competitive in today's job market. Online education has expanded educational opportunities for students across the country--including active duty servicemembers, veterans and their families.
Many people choose online education because of its convenience and relative affordability. You can take courses online without having to leave your job or relocate, making online learning an affordable option for those who need to work.
Depending on your goals, various online certificate and degree programs exist to help you succeed in your chose career field. You can complete an online degree program at the following levels:
- Associate's degree
- Bachelor's degree
- Master's degree
You can also complete certificate programs or take a single course online.
According to the Sloan Consortium, the vast majority of students enrolled in online courses complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program. And, the number of students enrolled in online education courses continues to grow. The most recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics reveal that 12.2 million students annually enroll in some form of online education programs.
Finishing an Education Is Important
With the various military education benefits available, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal government place an emphasis on helping servicemembers and veterans to complete their education.
In today's world, completing an education is vital. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, completing an education pays off for your future:
- 4 out of 5 (84%) Americans have high school diplomas, but only 1 in 4 (27%) have a bachelor's degree
- On average, workers with bachelor's degrees earn $20,000 more annually than those with only a high school diploma
- Over the course of a 30-year career, bachelor's degree holders earn twice as much as workers with just a high school diploma
Some military jobs naturally transfer into the civilian world, have great growth potential and pay well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, five career fields showing good growth potential between 2008 and 2018 include:
- Network and computer management
- Human resources
- Health care
- Education and training
- Law enforcement
With programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and VEAP in place, a military education--online or on-campus--is not far from reach.