Figuring out which Veteran Benefit is right for you can be difficult and depends on many factors including when you were active duty (or if you are still active), the kind of educational goals you have and whether you’re looking to transfer some or all of your benefits to a dependent.
Below are some of the GI Bill Chapter options with brief descriptions. For more detailed information about each one, visit the Veterans Affairs website.
Montgomery G. I. Bill (Chapter 30)
This chapter is for two groups of individuals based on their active duty service.
- Individuals entering military service on or after July 1, 1985, who have had their basic military pay reduced by $100 a month for the first 12 months of their service and received a discharge specifically listed as “HONORABLE” are eligible.
- Individuals eligible for the Old GI Bill (Chapter 34) as of December 31, 1989, who meet certain eligibility requirements and persons separated from active duty due to a service-connected disability or hardship discharge may also be eligible.
Participants in Chapter 30 must have received their high school diploma or GED before or during the qualifying period. In most cases, eligibility expires 10 years after last discharge or release from active duty.
Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Chapter 31)
This chapter is available for veterans of World War II or thereafter who have a service-connected disability which entitles him/her to DVA disability compensation and who is in need of vocational rehabilitation because the disability creates an unemployable handicap.
Professional counselors from the Dept of Veterans Affairs will help you plan an individual program which includes the services and financial assistance needed to carry out the program.
Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
This popular chapter of the GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You MUST have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Approved training under the Post-9/11 GI Bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational/technical training, on-the-job training, correspondence training, licensing and national testing programs, entrepreneurship training, and tutorial assistance. The Post-9/11 GI Bill also offers some service members the opportunity to transfer their GI Bill to dependents.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies in addition to your tuition.
Montgomery G. I. Bill Selected Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 1606)
Individuals who have agreed to serve six years in the selected reserve, on or after July 1, 1985, reenlisted or extended an enlistment for a period of at least six years may be eligible. You must have completed the initial active duty for training (IADT) and meet the requirements to receive a high school diploma or equivalent certificate before you complete the IADT.
Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) (Chapter 1607)
REAP provides up to 36 months of education benefits to members of the Selected Reserves, Individual Ready reserve (IRR), and National Guard, who are called or ordered to active service in response to a war or national emergency, as declared by the President or Congress.
There are many different benefit programs available to active duty, veteran and reserve members and while this list may give you an idea of what will work best for you, you can also use the Veterans Affairs GI Bill Comparison Tool to be absolutely sure.
If you’re considering attending Tidewater Community College, each campus has a Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE) where Veterans Affairs counselors are available to help walk you through your benefits and assist you in using them for your educational or training goals.
Martin Herrera is the interim veterans service coordinator and a veterans affairs benefits advisor at Tidewater Community College’s Center for Military and Veterans Education at the Virginia Beach Campus. Prior to joining the CMVE, Hererra served in the United States Navy for 20 years before retiring as a chief quartermaster in 2011. He received his Associate of Applied Science degree in Information Technology from Tidewater Community College in 2013.