The Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect on August 1, 2009, and is the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original bill was enacted in 1944.
Former President Bush signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, commonly called the new GI Bill or Chapter 33, into law on June 30, 2008, following a year-and-a-half of advocacy, endorsement, and support by US Senators, dozens of US governors, and organizations from the VFW to the American Council on Education.
Adjustments were made to the Post-9/11 GI Bill on January 4, 2011, when former President Obama signed a package of changes into law. Most of the changes took effect August 1, 2011.
All veterans who have served at least 90 consecutive days following September 10, 2001 with an honorable discharge, qualify for the minimum benefit: 50% of tuition, books, and living expenses. The benefits increase proportionately based on time in service, up to 100% of tuition, books, and living expenses for those who have served 36 total months following September 10, 2001.
National Guardsmen and Reservists on full-time active duty will have their time count towards their benefits. 100% benefits are available to those with 36 total months of post-9/11 service, as well as veterans with 30 days' post-9/11 active duty service and are discharged due to service-connected disability.
If you graduated from a Service Academy or received an ROTC scholarship, you also qualify for the new GI Bill benefits to attend graduate school. However, your ROTC/Service Academy obligated active-duty service time does not count toward the three years necessary to qualify for the full benefits. If you served even an additional 90 days after your active duty commitment you are eligible for the 50% benefit threshold, with 100% benefits awarded to those with an additional 3 years active duty service.
There is a single, nationwide cap of $17,500 a year for tuition and fee reimbursement. These benefits also apply to graduate school, out-of-state students, and those attending private institutions.
Only full-time students will receive a full living stipend. Living eligibility stipends will be prorated based on the number of credits being taken, although anyone with less than a 50% course load will not receive this stipend. Benefits will be cut off between school terms.
The $1,000-per-year book allowance is available to active-duty service members' spouses using transferred benefits. Distance learning students are eligible for the living stipend at a reduced rate, which is one-half the national average living stipend. Vocational training is also a covered program.
If you choose to attend a college or graduate school with tuition greater than the tuition cap, check out the Yellow Ribbon Program, established through the VA. A school must enter into an agreement with the VA, set up a veterans' scholarship, and the federal government will match whatever funds the school provides to the scholarship.
In 2017, a law was passed called the 'Forever GI Bill', officially named the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which removed any and all time limits on the time span in which veterans are required to use benefits, enabling them to be used at any time - and to be able to be transferred to a dependent - forever, as long as the service member had served at least six years before using the GI Bill benefits.
Starting August 1, 2018, veterans must still serve at least six years before the transfer of GI Bill benefits, and only veterans with less than 16 years of active duty service or selected reserve service are able to transfer their benefits, or risk losing the option to transfer the benefits. Veterans with 20 years of service or more are no longer eligible to transfer Bill benefits, but may still use the Bill for their own education.
In addition, veterans must have signed up for an additional four years of service to meet the requirements of the benefit exchange.
To learn more about the GI Bill, please visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.