The GI Bill and related VA benefits

Texarkana College is approved by the Texas Veterans Commission under the provisions of Title 38, U.S. Code for VA educational benefits to train veterans and other eligible persons for approved programs and courses required for those programs. Students may use the GI Bill or related benefits to pursue certificate or degree programs taken on a for-credit basis. They may not be used to pay for Continuing Education courses because they are non-credit.

New or returning veterans are often surprised to find that not one, but *many* variants of the GI Bill currently exist, and knowing which one to apply for can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the details. Please use the following guide to narrow down your search and learn which GI Bill is right for you. Click here if…

 

If you were discharged recently…

Recent veterans of active-duty military service may choose from two versions of GI Bill: the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill. To be eligible, you must have an honorable discharge. Both versions of the GI Bill provide excellent educational opportunities, but they operate differently, and one or the other might be more beneficial to you depending on the manner in which you wish to pursue your degree.  Please contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs using their self-service “Ask A Question” web site or visit our Veterans Services Office to receive counseling on which version might work best for you.

Please also note that some veterans who served continuously since the 1970s or 1980s and were only recently discharged may also be eligible for an older version of the GI Bill called VEAP; see below for details.

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) – For veterans with at least 90 days of non-training active-duty service after September 11, 2001. To receive the full benefit, 36 months (3 years) of active-duty service are required. This GI Bills pays the school directly for your tuition and fees, and it provides you with a book stipend and a monthly housing allowance as long as you are attending school over the half-time rate. (“More than half time” in regular-length semesters means at least 7 credit hours.) The Post-9/11 GI Bill is usually preferable if you plan on going to school full-time.
  • Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30) – For veterans with 36 months (3 years) of active-duty service. This GI Bill pays you directly, and you are then responsible for paying the school. Although it does not pay up-front, the Montgomery GI Bill sometimes results in the veteran receiving a bit more money over the long term than he or she would with Post-9/11 at Texarkana College because Montgomery pays a set rate based on a national average, and our tuition is comparably very affordable.There are no penalties for attending at the half-time rate or less (meaning 6 credit hours or fewer) with this benefit, so if you plan on only taking one or two classes per semester, the Montgomery GI Bill might be your best choice.
  • Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program / “VEAP” (Chapter 32) – Only available to veterans who enlisted between 1977 and 1985, who paid into the program, who did not switch over to the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bills as those became available, and who retired within the last 10 years.

If you were discharged over 10 years ago…

Although your original GI Bill benefits have likely expired if you were discharged over 10 years ago and have not yet applied for them, you may still qualify for assistance.

  • Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)(NOTE: The VRAP program stopped accepting new applicants on October 1, 2013. Students who have already been approved for this educational benefit may use it until April 1, 2014, when the program will completely expire.) VRAP was a short-term job training program signed into law in 2012 to help unemployed veterans aged 35-60 get training in a high-demand field. To qualify, you must be currently unemployed, between the ages of 35 and 60, have an honorable or “general under honorable conditions” discharge, and no longer be eligible for other versions of the GI Bill. VRAP provides up to one year of educational benefits and works exactly like the Montgomery GI Bill (it pays you, you pay the school). You must enroll in college “full time” (at least 12 credits) for a degree or certificate program in a high-demand field to qualify.
  • VA Vocational Rehabilitation (Chapter 31) – For veterans and service-members with a service-related disability percentage of 10-20% or more who have a serious employment handicap. This program pairs you with a vocational counselor and pays for tuition, fees, books, and supplies. VA Vocational Rehab is designed to help you get the training you need to get a good entry-level job in the field of your choice. In cases where veterans have service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, this program offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible. Please note that the application process for Chapter 31 is different from any other veterans’ educational benefit! You must contact the VA directly to initiate the application process, and they will set up an interview to determine if you are a good candidate for the program. For more information, call 501-370-3780.

If you are a reservist or guardsman…

The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up the following educational benefits for reservists or guardsmen who have served long enough to earn a “Notice of Basic Eligibility” (NOBE). To determine if you are eligible to receive this document, please speak with the commanding officer of your unit.

  • Selected Reserve Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 1606) – For service-members or veterans with a six-year obligation to serve in the Selective Reserve who are in good standing with their unit. This GI Bill pays you, and you are then responsible for paying the school. You may use it in conjunction with military Tuition Assistance.
  • Reserve Educational Assistance Program / “REAP” (Chapter 1607) – For reservists who were mobilized or called up to active duty for at least 90 days to respond to war or national emergency (ex. a natural disaster) as declared by the President or Congress. “REAP” works exactly like the Chapter 1606 educational benefit, but it pays better as a reward for your active-duty service.

If you are the spouse, child, or legal dependent of a veteran…

Spouses and/or children of combat-deceased or disabled veterans may qualify for educational benefits under the Survivor’s and Dependents’ Assistance program (Chapter 35). In certain cases, veterans eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill may also apply for a “Transfer of Eligibility” to donate some or all of their educational benefits to a spouse or child. Finally, children whose parents died in military action after September 10, 2001, may be eligible to receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill under the John David Fry Scholarship.

  • Survivor’s and Dependents’ Assistance / “DEA” (Chapter 35) – For spouses and/or children of veterans who have died as a result of military service or who have received a 100% service-related disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Multiple children can use this benefit, but they are only eligible between the ages of 18-26. (Extensions are possible but very rare.)
  • Transfer of Eligibility – Veterans who have served at least six years of active-duty service and commit to an additional four *OR* have already served ten years of active duty *OR* are retirement-eligible and commit to an additional four years may transfer part or all of their Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility to a spouse or child. Transfers of Eligibility must be approved through the Department of Defense before they can be implemented by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Due to the complexity of this particular application, please consult the Department of Veterans Affairs directly rather than the TC Veterans Services Office for guidance on how to apply.
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill: Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship – Under Public Law 111-32, the children of service members who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001 may be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) under the title of “Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship”. It functions exactly like the regular Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100% rate. Those who wish to apply may do so by submitting VA Form 22-5490 (online or mailed), the same form used to apply for Chapter 35 DEA benefits.