Expanded Education Benefits for Veterans

What benefits can you receive? The bill pays up to the full cost of in-state tuition and fees at the most expensive public college in the state where you're attending school. You can receive up to 36 months of benefits, which should be enough to cover a four-year undergraduate program at a college with a nine-month academic year. You can also use the benefits for a graduate degree.

You can receive a monthly housing stipend based on the Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 rank with dependents. The size of the benefit is based on the college's Zip code. You cannot receive the GI Bill housing allowance, however, if you're receiving an active-duty housing allowance.

You are also eligible for up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies.

Who qualifies for benefits? Eligibility is based on the time served in the military. To qualify for the maximum benefits, you must serve (or have served) at least 36 months after Sept. 10, 2001. You can also receive full benefits if you served on active duty for at least 30 continuous days but were discharged because of a service-connected disability. You can still get partial benefits if you served for a much shorter period.

Is there extra funding for more expensive colleges? Yes, there is. No matter where you go to school, you can receive benefits up to the cost of in-state tuition and fees at the most expensive public college in the state where you're studying.

If you're attending a private college or are paying out-of-state tuition at a public college, however, the benefits might not cover the entire bill. About 1,200 colleges have signed up for the Yellow Ribbon program, agreeing to contribute a fixed amount above the GI Bill limits for a certain number of students. The Veterans Affairs Department matches the school's contribution.

Can you transfer your benefits? To qualify to transfer the benefits, you generally need to have six years of service and agree to serve four additional years in the Armed Forces.

How long are you eligible? The service member, veteran or spouse must use the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits within 15 years of leaving service. If you transfer your eligibility to your children, they must use the benefits by age 26.

Where do you sign up? You can sign up at the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Web site.

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