Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
Eligibility: VA educational benefits may be used while the service member is on active duty or after the service member’s separation from active duty with a fully honorable military discharge. Discharges “under honorable conditions” and “general” discharges do not establish eligibility.
Eligibility generally expires 10 years after the service member’s discharge. However, there are exceptions for disability, re-entering active duty, and upgraded discharges.
All participants must have a high school diploma, equivalency certificate, or completed 12 hours toward a college degree before applying for benefits.
Previously, service members had to meet the high school requirement before they completed their initial active duty obligation. Those who did not may now meet the requirement and reapply for benefits. If eligible, they must use their benefits either within 10 years from the date of last discharge from active duty or by Nov. 2, 2010, whichever is later.
Additionally, every veteran must establish eligibility under one of four categories:
Category 1 – Service after June 30, 1985
For veterans who entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, did not decline MGIB in writing, and had their military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months.
Service members can apply after completing two continuous years of service. Veterans must have completed three continuous years of active duty, or two continuous years of active duty if they first signed up for less than three years or have an obligation to serve four years in the Selected Reserve (the 2×4 program) and enter the Selected Reserve within one year of discharge.
Service members or veterans who received a commission as a result of graduation from a service academy or completion of an ROTC scholarship are not eligible under Category 1 unless they received their commission:
- After becoming eligible for MGIB benefits (including completing the minimum service requirements for the initial period of active duty).
- Or after Sept. 30, 1996, and received less than $3,400 during any one year under ROTC scholarship
Service members or veterans who declined MGIB because they received repayment from the military for education loans are also ineligible under Category 1. If they did not decline MGIB and received loan repayments, the months served to repay the loans will be deducted from their entitlement.
Early Separation from Military Service: Service members who did not complete the required period of military service may be eligible under Category 1 if discharged for one of the following:
- Convenience of the government—with 30 continuous months of service for an obligation of three or more years, or 20 continuous months of service for an obligation of less than three years.
- Service-connected disability.
- A medical condition diagnosed prior to joining the military.
- A condition that interfered with performance of duty and did not result from misconduct.
- A reduction in force (in most cases)
Category 2 – Vietnam Era GI Bill Conversion
For veterans who had remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill on Dec. 31, 1989, and served on active duty for any number of days during the period Oct. 19, 1984, to June 30, 1985, for at least three continuous years beginning on July 1, 1985; or at least two continuous years of active duty beginning on July 1, 1985, followed by four years in the Selected Reserve beginning within one year of release from active duty.
Veterans not on active duty on Oct. 19, 1984, may be eligible under Category 2 if they served three continuous years on active duty beginning on or after July 1, 1985, or two continuous years of active duty at any time followed by four continuous years in the Selected Reserve beginning within one year of release from active duty.
Veterans are barred from eligibility under Category 2 if they received a commission after Dec. 31, 1976, as a result of graduation from a service academy or completion of an ROTC scholarship.
However, such a commission is not a bar if they received the commission after becoming eligible for MGIB benefits, or received the commission after Sept. 30, 1996, and received less than $3,400 during any one year under ROTC scholarship.
Category 3 – Involuntary Separation/Special Separation
For veterans who meet one of the following requirements:
- Elected MGIB before being involuntarily separated.
- Or were voluntarily separated under the Voluntary Separation Incentive or the Special Separation Benefit program, elected MGIB benefits before being separated, and had military pay reduced by $1,200 before discharge.
Category 4 – Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
For veterans who participated in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) and:
- Served on active duty on Oct. 9, 1996.
- Participated in VEAP and contributed money to an account.
- Elected MGIB by Oct. 9, 1997, and paid $1,200.
Veterans who participated in VEAP on or before Oct. 9, 1996, may also be eligible even if they did not deposit money in a VEAP account if they served on active duty from Oct. 9, 1996, through April 1, 2000, elected MGIB by Oct. 31, 2001, and contributed $2,700 to MGIB.
Certain National Guard service members may also qualify under Category 4 if they
- Served for the first time on full-time active duty in the National Guard between June 30, 1985, and Nov. 29, 1989, and had no previous active duty service.
- Elected MGIB during the nine-month window ending on July 9, 1997.
- And paid $1,200.
Effective Oct. 1, 2006, the rate for full-time training in college, technical or vocational school is $1,075 a month for those who served three years or more or two years plus four years in the Selected Reserve. For those who served less than three years, the monthly rate is $873. Benefits are reduced for part-time training. Payments for other types of training follow different rules. VA will pay an additional amount, called a “kicker” or “college fund,” if directed by DOD.
The maximum number of months veterans can receive payments is 36 months at the full-time rate or the part-time equivalent.
The following groups qualify for the maximum: veterans who served the required length of active duty, veterans with an obligation of three years or more who were separated early for the convenience of the government and served 30 continuous months, and veterans with an obligation of less than three years who were separated early for the convenience of the government and served 20 continuous months.
Eligibility for Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
Active duty personnel could participate in the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) if they entered active duty for the first time after Dec. 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985, and made a contribution prior to April 1, 1987. The maximum contribution is $2,700. Active duty participants may make a lump-sum contribution to their VEAP account. For more information, visit the website at www.gibill.va.gov.
Service members who participated in VEAP are eligible to receive benefits while on active duty if:
- At least three months of contributions are available, except for high school or elementary, in which only one month is needed.
- And they enlisted for the first time after Sept. 7, 1980, and completed 24 months of their first period of active duty.
Service members must receive a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable for the qualifying period of service. Service members who enlisted for the first time after Sept. 7, 1980, or entered active duty as an officer or enlistee after Oct. 16, 1981, must have completed 24 continuous months of active duty, unless they meet a qualifying exception.
Eligibility generally expires 10 years from release from active duty, but can be extended under special circumstances.
Payments: DOD will match contributions at the rate of $2 for every $1 put into the fund and may make additional contributions, or “kickers,” as necessary. For training in college, vocational or technical schools, the payment amount depends on the type and hours of training pursued. The maximum amount is $300 a month for full-time training.
Training, Work-Study, Counseling: VEAP participants may receive the same training, work-study benefits and counseling as provided under the Montgomery GI Bill.
To determine that your eligibility and to receive additional information call 1-888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). You may apply online at: vabenefits.vba.va.gov. Lu Ross Academy cannot determine your eligibility. Your eligibility can only be determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although Lu Ross Academy believes that the information supplied is generally correct, we do not assume any responsibility whatsoever for its accuracy.