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2.3. Be an Informed Consumer: Spend Your GI Bill Benefits Wisely
Even though the school's VA Certifying Official should be able to answer your questions regarding your GI Bill Benefits it is important for you to have an understanding of what your benefits are and how you can use them. No two veterans have the same careers, experiences, or military incentives afforded to them. Whether you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, or another VA benefits program, gaining an understanding about your benefits is important.
In October 2011, significant changes were made to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which added some flexibility and new benefits. You may qualify for increased payment rates, housing stipends if an online student, book stipends, support for apprenticeship programs, and more. It will be important for you to compare schools to find the one that best meets your needs when using your benefits. Having more options for GI Bill benefits is great, but will require you to do additional research to be sure you are making the best decision for you.
- https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/ are more flexible than ever before and can apply to more than the typical academic education (e.g., community college or a traditional four-year university). Apprenticeship training (for jobs like machinist or baker); on-the-job training (for jobs like firefighter or hotel management), and non-college degree programs (for certifications necessary to be a truck driver or an emergency medical technician, for example) are now possible.
Take the time to ask questions. These are benefits you have earned and have more flexibility than ever before. But once they are gone . . . they are gone.
- Some resources to help you explore your GI Bill Benefits include: IAVA's GI Bill Benefits Calculator, and the Department of Veterans Affairs' GI Bill Comparison Tool.