If you’re a military veteran planning on going back to school after returning home, you’re not alone. That’s why the GI Bill® exists. Here we will take a deep dive into what it is and how you can use it to aid your return to civilian life.

What is the Post-9/11 GI Bill®?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® is a program designed to help military veterans pay for furthering their education or job training. You can get financial aid for tuition and fees, housing, books and other school supplies, and even additional support if you’re moving from a rural area to attend school.


If you served in the military after September 10, 2001, you may be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The GI Bill® offers different coverage depending on how long you have served. The general rule of thumb is that you should have at least 90 days of active duty for some level of coverage, and 36 months or more for full coverage. Those discharged due to service-related disability must have served at least 30 consecutive days. This only applies for veterans who were honorably discharged.

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Steps to Acquire GI Bill® Benefits

So you’ve checked that you’re eligible. Congrats! Here are the next steps you need to take to get the most out of your benefits.

Step One. Obtain Your Certificate of Eligibility

The first step is to apply for GI Bill® benefits. You can do this either online or in-person. Make sure you have everything you need for the application, including your military and education background, social security number, and bank account numbers.

Once you apply, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will send you a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which tells you exactly what you’re eligible for. You are required to present this document to the school you plan on attending to receive your GI Bill® benefits. It can also serve as proof of the coming payment for tuition, if needed.

Step Two. Find Out What Benefits You Can Receive Based on Your School

It is important to note that your awarded GI Bill® benefits will be impacted by the kind of college you attend. For example, if you are planning to attend a public college or university the GI Bill® covers all of your tuition costs at the in-state rate. On the other hand, if you’re considering a private university, the GI Bill® may not cover all of your costs. A good tip for these schools is to check whether they participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and what additional benefits they offer for veterans.

For a better sense of what to expect, utilize the GI Bill® Comparison Tool to find out what benefits you are eligible to receive based on your school. It is also useful in clarifying other important details like what your awarded housing stipend will be.

Step Three. Submit Certificate of Eligibility to Your School

Remember the COE you received from the Department of Veterans Affairs? Submit this to the school you’ve decided to attend in order to receive all of the allotted benefits. Whether you are receiving full or partial coverage, it is important to know where your GI Bill® benefits are going—directly to the school or into your own bank account—so that you can manage your finances effectively!

Transferring Your Benefits

One of the greatest things about the GI Bill® is that you may be eligible to transfer some, or all, of your benefits to your dependents. If you’ve completed at least six years of service, agreed to four more years once the transfer is complete, and the person receiving the transfer is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), the Department of Defense may approve the transfer of benefits to either your spouse or children.

While all of your dependents can receive up to 36 months of benefits for tuition, housing, and supplies while attending school, when and how they can use these benefits differ based on how they are related to you.


Spouses of eligible military veterans can use their benefits right away, whether during or after you’re on active duty. While they can use the benefits for up to 15 years after you’ve completed your service, they do not qualify for the housing stipend while you’re on active duty.


Children of military veterans who wish to use their GI Bill® benefits from their parents have a few more conditions to meet. Although they can use these benefits during or after you’re on active duty, they must be at least 18 years of age or have a high school diploma. Another requirement is that you must have served for at least ten years. And unlike spouse transferable benefits, your child is no longer eligible after they have reached 26 years of age. Keep these restrictions in mind as you plan benefit transfers to your children.

What Now?

The GI Bill®, if planned carefully, can be used to further not only your career and livelihood, but also your family’s. Also consider using it for benefits outside of traditional education: vocational or technical training, entrepreneurship training, or flight training.

If you’re at a loss of where to start your college search in order to take advantage of your GI Bill benefits, start right here with Regis. Check out the information on the Yellow Ribbon Program and other education benefits, such as scholarships, we have for veterans.

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 GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website.

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