College Guide for Veterans and Service Members
Receive Credit for What You Already Know
Paying for College after Serving your Country
The Montgomery GI Bill
- Honorable Discharge
- Highschool diploma or equivalent certificate
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Yellow Ribbon Program
Forever GI Bill
- Priority enrollment: VA will improve outreach and transparency to veterans and service members by providing information on whether institutions of higher learning administer a priority enrollment system that allows certain student veterans to enroll in courses earlier than other students.
- Independent study at technical schools and non-institutions of higher learning (non-IHL): Beneficiaries will now be able to use their educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study (e.g., online learning) at non-IHLs. The non-IHLs must be area career and technical education schools that provide postsecondary level education or postsecondary vocational institutions. Note: This change does not apply to the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program beneficiaries.
- Elimination of the 15-year time limit to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill: The law removes the 15-year time limit for the use of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for those whose last discharge or release from active duty is on or after Jan. 1, 2013, children of deceased service members who became entitled to a Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit on or after Jan. 1, 2013, and all spouses using the Fry Scholarship.
- Assistance for students affected by school closure and certain program disapprovals: Students may be able to receive back entitlement charged against them if their school closed while they were attending.
- REAP eligibility credited toward Post-9/11 GI Bill program: Reservists who established eligibility to educational assistance under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) before Nov. 25, 2015, and lost it due to the program’s sunset may elect to have that service credited toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Work study expansion: The law removes the expiration date for qualifying work-study activities.
- GI Bill monthly housing allowance: Those who use the Post-9/11 GI Bill on or after Jan. 1, 2018, will receive a monthly housing allowance based on the Department of Defense basic housing allowance (BAH) for monthly housing rates.
- Yellow Ribbon Extension to Fry and Purple Heart recipients: Recipients of the Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart may use the Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Reserve duty that counts toward Post-9/11 eligibility: The time that a reservist was ordered to active duty to receive authorized medical care, to be medically evaluated for disability, or to complete a Department of Defense healthcare study on or after Sept. 11, 2001, now counts as active duty toward eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Reserve component benefits: The law authorizes service by Guard and Reserve members under 10 U.S.C 12304a and 12304b to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
- Purple Heart recipients: Service members and honorably discharged veterans who were awarded a Purple Heart on or after Sept. 11, 2001, will be entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% benefit level for up to 36 months.
- Pilot programs for technology courses: VA will develop a pilot program to provide eligible veterans with the opportunity to enroll in high technology education programs. Each program, as determined by the VA, must provide training and skills sought by employers in a relevant field or industry.
- Monthly housing based on campus where students attend most classes: The law requires the monthly housing allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program to be calculated based on the ZIP code of the campus where the student physically attends the majority of classes rather than the location of the school where the student is enrolled.
- Monthly housing allowance during active service: VA will prorate the monthly housing allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Informing schools about beneficiary entitlement: VA must make available to educational institutions information about the amount of educational assistance to which a beneficiary is entitled. A beneficiary may elect not to provide the information to an educational institution.
- Changes to transfer of benefit: Veterans who transferred entitlement to a dependent can now designate a new dependent pending the death of the original dependent. If the veteran dies, a dependent who received transferred entitlement can now designate a new eligible dependent of the veteran to transfer any of the dependent’s remaining entitlement.
- Changes to survivors’ and dependents’ education assistance: The new law decreases the amount of entitlement that new eligible individuals will receive under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program from 45 months to 36 months.
- Changes to licensing and certification charges: Entitlement charges for licensing and certification exams and national tests under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will be prorated based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test. This lowers the entitlement charge to benefits.
- More benefits for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs: VA will provide up to nine months of additional Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to eligible individuals who are enrolled in a STEM field program of education.
- Consolidation of benefit levels: Eliminates the 40% benefit level and expands the 60% benefit level under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Yellow Ribbon extension to active-duty service members: Active-duty service members may use the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Applying for GI Bill Benefits
- Social Security Number
- Military history
- Information about the school or training facility you want to attend
Additional Tuition Assistance Programs Available for Service Members and Veterans
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Scholarships Available to Military Veterans
- Scholarships – U.S. Army
- Health Professions Scholarships Program – U.S. Army
- Navy ROTC Scholarships – U.S. Navy
- Scholarship Programs – Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
- Scholarships – Coast Guard Foundation
- Scholarships Overview – U.S. Air Force ROTC
- Scholarships – Air Force Association
- Military Officers Associate of America Education Assistance
- Women’s Memorial Foundation Scholarship Program
- Army Staff Sgt. Special Agent Richard S. Eaton Jr. Scholarship
Military Loan Repayment Programs
Army Student Loan Repayment
Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program
Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program
Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps Loan Repayment Program
Reserve Student Loan Repayment Program
Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Law enforcement
- Early childhood education
- Public safety
- Public health
- Public education
- Emergency management
- Military service
Succeeding in College as a Veteran or Service member
Transition from Soldier to Student
Time Management and Study Tips for Veterans
- Add structure to your days
- While enlisted, the military provided time management throughout the day. While college doesn’t have that same structure. Time management is an important key to the success of student veterans of all types. Creating a schedule can add much-needed structure to your days and give you a feeling of normalcy.
- Create a study plan
- In the military there is almost always a plan of action. It should be the same for those attending college. When you create a schedule, you should include a plan for studying. Determine goals for the week on Monday, focus on assignments due or areas of struggle and devote time to those tasks.
- Have more than one study place
- Having only one place that you feel comfortable studying can create a host of problems. If the study space becomes incompatible due to noise or distractions, it can be difficult to adjust to a new space. Take the time to find two or three places where you can study and rotate through them on a consistent basis
- If you’re on campus, this could mean working out of multiple libraries or study halls. If you’re completing online courses, find a local library or coffee shop where you feel comfortable.
- Take breaks when you get restless
- Schedule breaks frequently. It’s easy to become caught up in work and studies. There are apps and websites that can schedule in frequent breaks and keep your mind and body fresh
- Focus on the task at hand
- It can be difficult to focus on certain tasks, but it is important to find ways to stay engaged in what you are doing. If you’re struggling to focus, try splitting your time into smaller chunks with smaller goals so you can feel some accomplishment along the way.
- Utilize Apps and Programs
- There are many programs and applications available that can help you stay focused. They can block distracting websites as a whole or partially during specific times to encourage focusing on work.
- Compromise when things get difficult
- Struggling with a task isn’t easy for anyone to admit. Recognizing the struggle and knowing how to handle it can be the difference between succeeding or falling behind. If the struggle comes from a specific assignment or topic, reach out to a professor or teaching assistant and see if they can offer any advice or assistance.
- If the difficulty comes from a schedule or time management issue, reevaluate the current calendar and see if there are available scheduling changes to allow for more time.
- Ask for help if things aren’t working
- Reaching out to college advisors, fellow students, other veterans, or teachers can help you examine why something isn’t working the way you would like them to and find ways to get back on the right path
- Form a study group with fellow veterans and classmates
- There are student veteran groups or a veterans department available at most universities that can help you get in contact with people who have similar experiences in the armed forces. Having the camaraderie of other service members can add a level of comfort if you’re struggling
Mental Health Concerns for Veterans and Servicemembers
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Here are some signs to watch for if you think you or a loved one may have PTSD:
- Self-destructive behavior
- Heightened reactions
- Trouble concentrating
- Guilt or loneliness
- Emotional detachment
- Insomnia or nightmares
Symptoms of depression in veterans or service members can include, but are not limited to:
- Feeling restless
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty focusing
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Feeling unworthy or guilty
- Drinking more alcohol or caffeine than normal
- Change in eating habits
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling sad or helpless
- Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from daily activities
Traumatic Brain Injury
Symptoms of a TBI include:
- Concentration problems
- Gaps in memory
- Difficulty finding words
- Attention problems
- Sleep problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Mood swings
- Vision problems
Coping with a Traumatic Brain Injury
- Carry a small notebook and pen with you to keep track of important things.
- Avoid caffeine, which may contribute to symptoms
- Take part in a hobby or recreational activity
- Have a daily routine
- Get enough sleep