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The GI Bill - Education Benefits for Our Veterans

Updated on September 17, 2010

The GI Bill

The GI Bill, which is officially known as Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, PL346, 58 Statutes at Large 284, afforded many US veterans the chance to further their education.

This page is about this excellent benefit to our veterans.

As a US Navy vet, I used the the GI Bill to the fullest extent for my education. For the version that I received, it paid for most of my college expenses. Fortunately, I didn't go to expensive schools (and I lived as cheaply as I could without starving). I still had to work throughout college, but usually just part time. For me, it was great!

Contrary to most peoples' understanding or opinion, the GI Bill usually would not be able to pay for all of the college expenses.

I know a number of vets that didn't take advantage of the short sign-up period in their first couple months of enlisting. They really regretted it later when they did want to go to college.

The GI Bill is a beautiful thing!

The Importance of the GI Bill

Because the US military is normally an all-volunteer force, it is very important that we give our prospective military candidates an a great incentive to join.

As the United States takes part in conflicts in other countries, and helps our citizens with floods, famine, or other internal problems, we must have a strong, intelligent group of soldiers to replenish those that have served their country ended their enlistment.

The GI Bill is the very best incentive to join the military. It attracts the best and the brightest, as they hope to further themselves after their time is up.

- Citizen soldier

Since 1944

more than 21 million veterans and dependents have participated in GI Bill education and training programs!

A Poll for Veterans - Please, if you're not a vet, don't do this poll

Did you use the GI Bill?

See results

About the GI Bill

The GI Bill was originally known as the GI Bill of Rights. GI being short for "Government Issue", which is a self-effacing old joke directed toward the veteran.

The GI Bill has changed over the years, since being passed into law in 1944. The 1944 version paid tuition assistance directly to the college in which the veteran attended. In 1952 Congress changed the payment structure to go toward the veteran directly.

The decision to end the direct tuition payments to schools came after a 1950 House select committee uncovered incidents of overcharging of tuition rates by some institutions under the original G.I. Bill in an attempt to defraud the government.

Over the next fifteen years, until 1967, huge battles were fought within Congress and the military to increase the benefits to help veterans afford college. Eventually, the veteran received as much as $311 per month toward college.

As the funding levels increased, the numbers of veterans entering higher education rose correspondingly. In fact, it was not until 1976, fully ten years after the first Vietnam veterans became eligible, that the highest number of Vietnam-era veterans were enrolled in colleges and universities.

Those that used the GI Bill

Vietnam veterans - 72%

World War II veterans - 51%

Korean War veterans - 43%

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, a veteran had to have served for more than 180 days and received an "other than dishonorable discharge." Normally, this means an Honorable or Medical Discharge.

In order to enlist, the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 (with parental consent) and the maximum age is 35 (Note: Congress changed this to age 42 in 2006). This is per federal law 10 U.S.C., 505.

In return, eligible veterans receive a generous tuition allowance and a monthly stipend for up to 36 months of eligible training or education, which is the rough equivalent of a bachelors degree.

When Dreams Came True: The GI Bill and the Making of Modern America
When Dreams Came True: The GI Bill and the Making of Modern America

Fascinating book about how the GI Bill changed America


Original poster for the GI Bill

Original poster for the GI Bill
Original poster for the GI Bill

The Post 9/11 GI Bill

There is fantastic news for the active duty members of the military. Their benefits have substantially increased. Even better, their educational benefits can be passed to their dependents!

"If you are a member of the Armed Forces on August 1, 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) may offer you the opportunity to transfer benefits to your spouse or dependent children. Please contact DoD or your military service branch for more information."

"Approved training under The Post-9/11 GI Bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, and vocational/technical training. All training programs must be offered by an institution of higher learning and approved for purposes of chapter 30. Additionally, tutorial assistance, and licensing and certification test reimbursement are approved under the Post- 9/11 GI Bill.

If you are also eligible for chapter 30, 1606 or 1607, you may be eligible to pursue training for on-the-job training, apprenticeship, correspondence, flight and preparatory courses under the Post-9/11 GI Bill."

The current normal amount for college: $47,566!

For more information, go to the Veterans Affairs site.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I was over at Susie's and happened upon this, what a wonderful find! I really didn't know any of this, so I am now an informed citizen. That's amazing and wonderful that education benefits can be passed on to dependents! Happy day to you!

    • CubScouter94 profile image

      Tasha Marie 7 years ago from Mahomet, Illinois

      Thanks for the information! My husband did not take advantage of the G.I. Bill and we have regretted that decision. He served six years in the Military.

      My current lens (I am new to this) has been set up to support the Military & Scouting, through Operation Popcorn!

      Can anyone tell me about the backlinks? I have no idea what that is, but I am certainly curious.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi Shea, good information! ~ I am featuring this lens on Veterans of War and Support Our Troops and Veterans. Gave it 14 backlinks too, hope that helps!

      Thank You,


    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I agree with the former Marine at California. I got out of the Navy and used the previous version...the Montgomery GI Bill to pay only for the tuition and books at a private university. (Thankfully, I received a scholarship that brought the cost of tuition to the same price as a state university here in Missouri.) I had to work full time to cover my living expenses. Through previously college taken at night schools while I served, I only needed about 2 years of full time student to get my Bachelor degree. Used that to get where I am today making enough in a full time job to pay for housing, etc. So I'm using the remainder of the GI Bill to pay for grad school. The GI BIll can still be a great benefit; however, it is nearly impossible to pay for school and room and board with it. The new version is great, for the most part. It doesn't work well for online schools. But at least they are taking a more serious approach to returing the GI Bill to being a more productive benefit

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Good article. However, there has been a serious change of attitude towards this bill. As years have progressed, this particular benefit has transformed from a veterans benefit into a recruiting tool. In other words, the GI Bill is now a bargaining chip for recruiters. I am a student here at the University of California and a former Marine. The GI Bill does not come close to paying all my expenses (rent, food, tuition, & phone). I do not have a sense of entitlement, but I as a university student working over 20 hours a week, I feel that I have been let down by this "benefit." Conversely, my experience with the VA Hospital has been exceptional and I praise the VA in this respect. But realistically speaking, students that are veterans will still need to work a part-time job and may have to get some subsidized loans to make ends meet while being a student. This is not a complain in the least; but do the math and you will see that my point is hard to refute.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 9 years ago

      Nice lens! My son took advantage of this and signed up. In his field he has a good start on his education from the Navy but this will surely enable him to finish his degree. 5* favored and lensrolled to my military lenses.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      The GI bill gets it so right, thanks for writing about this.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 9 years ago from Northern California

      Welcome to the We the People - Support the Troops. Great Lens!

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      CyndiC 9 years ago

      Great info! I was not aware of the changes in the post 9/11 GI Bill.

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      RinchenChodron 9 years ago

      Very nice site - I just visited my brother in the VA hospital - that healthcare is a huge benefit to vets. I wish I was eligible for it. My brother did use the tuition assistance of the GI Bill

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      WhippetTalk 9 years ago

      I wonder if my dad (Vietnam Vet) used the GI Bill to go to college and get his Nursing License? I'll have to ask him. Great lens!