Trade School Funding under the GI Bill

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Military service members protect the freedom of Americans. One way our country shows its appreciation is offering funding to help attain their educational goals through the GI Bill.

What Is the GI Bill?

The GI Bill of Rights is a federal program that offers educational funding to veterans. It was originally created in 1944 to help WWII veterans (often called GIs) get their education when they returned home. Back then, post-secondary education was not an option for many Americans, and the bill was extremely successful in helping veterans go to school. In 1947, veterans made up 49% of college admissions. 1 Today, the GI Bill is still a significant source of funding for veterans’ education.

What Veterans’ Benefits Are Available for Trade School?

The GI Bill has been updated over the years, and there are currently three different programs:

  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • The Montgomery GI Bill − Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
  • The Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

The GI Bill is not considered financial aid because most of the time the funds are paid directly to veterans to cover the cost of schooling to attend university or trade school, but the eligibility requirements and specific benefits may vary with each one. 2

You can visit the official GI Bill page to learn more about your veterans’ benefits, which ones you qualify for, and begin the application process. Following is an overview.

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Post-9/11 GI Bill

Eligibility Requirements

If your answer is yes to the following questions, you might be eligible to receive funding for trade school under the Post-9/11 GI Bill:

  • Did you serve on active duty for a total of 90 days after September 10, 2001?
  • Are you currently on active duty?
  • Were you honorably discharged?
  • Were you discharged due to a service-related disability after serving 30 continuous days of active duty after September 10, 2001?

VA Education Benefits

After leaving active duty, you could be eligible for 36 months of education benefits for 15 years. These benefits include the following forms of financial assistance:

  • Tuition paid to the school.
  • A monthly stipend for housing paid directly to you.
  • Money for books and supplies paid to you at the start of the school term.

Visit the Post-9/11 GI Bill page of the VA’s website to learn more about this veterans’ benefit.

Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

Eligibility Requirements

There is a long list of criteria to qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD). If your answer to the following questions is yes, you may want to visit the MGIB-AD webpage to learn more about this educational benefit:

  • Did you serve on active duty for at least two continuous years?
  • Were you honorably discharged, and you have a high school diploma, a GED, or 12 hours of college credit?
  • Were you on active duty on or before* October 9, 1996? *Note: there are several date ranges for active duty over the decades before 1996 and other criteria that could determine your eligibility for the MGIB-AD. Please see CATERGORY I, II, AND III, AND IV for more information.
  • Money for school is paid directly to veterans who qualify for the MGIB-AD.

More information is available on the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty webpage.

Montgomery GI Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

Since the men and women in the Selected Reserve may be called to active duty any time, some are veterans as well as current Reserve members. The questions below can help you determine if you are eligible for the MGIB-SR:

Eligibility Requirements

  • Did you sign a six-year commitment to the Selected Reserve after June 30, 1985?
  • Did you complete your initial active duty for training (IADT)?
  • Did you earn a high school diploma or GED before you completed IADT?
  • Are you in good standing with the Selected Reserve in which you are currently serving?
  • Were you discharged due to a non-misconduct-related disability?
  • Were you called to active duty while serving in the Selected Reserve?

VA Education Benefits

You must collect your benefits while you are a member of the Selected Reserve. Exceptions apply for Reserve members who are called to active duty, whose units were deactivated between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2014 or who were involuntarily separated from the Reserve for non-misconduct reasons. Selected Reserve members who qualify for the MGIB-SR receive money directly for school.

Additional information and application instructions can be found on the MGIB-SR webpage.

Smooth Transition from Service to Career

If you’re interested in learning a trade after your service has ended (or while on Reserve), it’s worth it to take advantage of the benefits available to you under the GI Bill. It was created specifically to help veterans to go to school, and it only takes a short while to learn about the benefits and how to apply for them. 3

Additional Sources

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