Questions To Ask Your College About Using The GI Bill

If you are planning to use your GI Bill benefits for the first time, or are returning to the GI Bill process after a long absence, there are some important questions to ask of a state-run or for-profit college before you commit. The answers may make a big difference in how you approach paying for your education.

Does Your School or Program Accept The GI Bill?

Believe it or not, this is a common issue, especially in the world of for-profit colleges and non-traditional institutions. It may seem like a silly question to ask an established university, but many veterans and currently

U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Alyssa M. Akers

serving military members aren’t necessarily interested in a traditional four-year college program. GI Bill funds are available for approved certificate, apprenticeship, and other specialized training programs not offered by four-year colleges.

Are you interested in becoming an Emergency Medical Technician? A firefighter? A commercial pilot? Many such on-the-job training programs or apprenticeships may be covered under the GI Bill. According to the VA official site, “Employers generally pay a reduced OJT/apprenticeship wage (must be at least 50% of journeyman wage). Unless the training establishment is operated by a Federal, State, or local government, periodic wage increases must be granted and by the last full month of training, the wage must be at least 85% of the wage for a fully trained employee.”

The official site adds that those training in an approved program can “use their GI Bill benefit and receive a tax-free stipend.” Be sure to ask the reps for any non-traditional or apprenticeship program if you can use the GI Bill.

What Happens If The GI Bill Payments Are Late?

Once you are accepted into an approved program, the school and the VA coordinate GI Bill payments. But sometimes there may be issues where the VA is late in delivering funds. Potential students using their GI Bill benefits should always ask directly about how late GI Bill payments might affect registration status, the ability to register for future classes, etc.

Some colleges will automatically flag a student’s account if there is a late payment of any kind, requiring some form of action from the student and/or the office of student affairs. You should discuss such potential issues with your advisor and/or the applicable student affairs representative to learn how to negotiate such student holds.

In many cases you may find the college is perfectly willing to work with you, understanding that payment is forthcoming, just as soon as the VA delivers funds. However, if VA payments are running late, it’s never safe to assume that you haven’t been automatically flagged with an “advising hold” or “financial hold” for next term’s registration or even graduation. Check your student account regularly to avoid delays or problems with your account.

What Other Veteran Education Benefits Are Available?

You may not know about programs your chosen college or institution has used in the past when qualifying veterans apply to attend. For example, the Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG) is a benefit available to qualifying veterans/currently serving members who lived in Illinois for a specified length of time prior to joining the service and list Illinois as the home of record.

The IVG can be used before the GI Bill, or when the GI Bill runs out and covers most of the student’s tuition. While there is no housing stipend, the IVG is a good example of a benefit that can be used as a way to save GI Bill benefits for later, or to supplement higher education once your GI Bill benefits are used up.

About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

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Scholarships for Military Spouses

Military spouse clubs near military bases frequently offer scholarships for military spouses. Scholarships for military dependents are a great way to save money on college expenses, and help support the local community through continued military spouse education. If selected to receive a scholarship, eligible military spouses and military dependents could receive money for college and continued education, ranging from $500 to $2500, or even more.


Often these scholarships are only offered to military dependents whose sponsor is assigned to a certain military base, however each scholarship will have their own application criteria, so be sure to check the specific requirements before applying. In most cases club membership is not even a requirement. Some scholarships are also open to spouses of retired military personnel, and spouses of department of defense civilians. There are also scholarships for children of veterans.

Military spouses and dependents are sometimes eligible to reapply for the scholarship year after year. Previous winners may receive emails in the future, encouraging them to reapply.

The money awarded through military dependent scholarships sponsored by these local clubs is intended to help eligible military dependents pay for college, and help military spouses strengthen their career skills.

In conjunction with the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program, military spouses can save a lot of money on tuition and other education related expenses. There are also plenty of military friendly colleges to choose from, when looking for a degree program to use any applicable scholarship money for.

Below you will find military spouse groups and clubs who offer scholarships for military dependents. This list is in alphabetical order, organized by state, and will be updated often:


Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club

Maxwell-Gunter Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Redstone Arsenal Community Women’s Club


Fort Wainwright Community Spouses’ Club

Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Spouses Club

Richardson Spouses’ Club

The Spouse’s Association of Kodiak


Davis-Monthan Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Fort Huachuca Community Spouses’ Club

Luke Spouses’ Club


Little Rock Spouses’ Club


Beale Officers’ Spouses’ Club

East Bay Coast Guard Spouses’ Club

Edwards Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Military and Civilian Spouses’ Club of Ft. Irwin

Monterey Bay Officers’ Spouses Club

North Bay Coast Guard Spouses Club

Officers’ Spouse Club of Camp Pendleton

Officers’ Spouse’s Club of 29 Palms

The Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club of San Diego

Travis Spouses’ Club

Vandenberg Spouses’ Club


Air Force Academy Spouses’ Club

Mountain Post Spouses Club, Fort Carson

Peterson, Schriever and Cheyenne Mountain Spouses’ Club


Coast Guard Spouses’ Association of Southeastern Connecticut


Dover Officers’ Spouses’ Club

District of Columbia

Air Force Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Army Officers’ Spouses’ Club of the Greater Washington Area

Coast Guard Spouses’ Club

Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Eglin Spouses’ Club

Hurlburt Spouses’ Club

MacDill Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Tyndall Spouses Club


Fort Benning Community Spouses Club

Fort Gordon Spouses’ and Civilians’ Club

Marne Community & Spouses’ Club at Fort Stewart/Hunter A.A.F.

Robins Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Hickam Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Hui ‘O Na Wahine Spouses Club at Schofield Barracks

The Coast Guard Spouses Association of Oahu


Mountain Home Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Rock Island Arsenal Welcome Club

Scott Spouse Club


Fort Leavenworth Spouses’ Club

McConnell Officer Spouses Club

The Combined Scholarship Fund of Greater Fort Riley


Fort Campbell Spouses’ Club

Fort Knox Spouses and Community Club


Barksdale Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Fort Polk Spouses’ Club


Aberdeen Proving Ground Community Spouses Club

Fort Meade Enlisted Spouses’ Club


Hanscom Spouses Club


Keesler Spouses’ Club


Fort Wood Community Spouses’ Club

Whiteman Spouses’ Club


Offutt Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Nellis Air Force Base Area Spouses’ Club

New Jersey

Jersey Cape Military Spouses’ Club

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Spouses’ Club

New Mexico

Cannon Spouses’ Club

Kirtland Spouses’ Club

Whiteman Spouses Club

New York

North Country Spouses’ Club

North Carolina

Association of Bragg Spouses

Camp Lejeune Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Cherry Point Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Seymour Johnson AFB Officer & Civilian Spouses Club

North Dakota

Grand Forks Air Force Base Spouse Club

Minot Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Wright-Patterson Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Fort Sill Patriot Spouses’ Club

Tinker Spouses’ Club


Carlisle Barracks Spouses Club

Rhode Island

Military Spouses of Newport

South Carolina

Parris Island Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Team Charleston Spouses Club

Victory Spouses Club of Fort Jackson

South Dakota

Ellsworth Officers and Civilians Spouses Club


Fort Campbell Spouses’ Club


Dyess Spouses’ Club

Goodfellow Combined Spouses’ Club

Lackland Spouses’ Club

Laughlin Spouses’ Club

Randolph Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Spouses’ Club of the Fort Sam Houston Area

The Sheppard Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Hill Officers’ Spouses’ Club


Belvoir Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Fort Lee Area Spouses’ Club

Langley Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Quantico Officers’ Spouses’ Organization

Spouses Club of Fort Eustis


Fairchild Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Ft Lewis Family Member Scholarship

McChord Spouses Club


Warren Spouses’ Club

OCONUS clubs that offer scholarships to military spouses:

Andersen Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Aviano Officers & Civilians Spouses’ Club

Bavaria Community & Spouses Club

Kadena Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Kaiserslautern Military Community

Marine Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Okinawa

Mildenhall Spouses’ Club

Misawa Officers’ Spouses’ Club

RAF Lakenheath Officers’ & Civilians’ Spouses’ Club

Spangdahlem Officers’ and Civilians’ Spouses Club

Team Osan Spouses’ Club

Wiesbaden Community Spouses’ Club

Yokota Officers’ Spouses’ Club

Other clubs that offer scholarships to military spouses:

Air Force Association

Corvias Foundation

National Military Family Association

Navy Wives Clubs of America

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

The Tillman Scholars Program

How to Apply to a Military Service Academy

The service academies are federal institutions that provide an undergraduate education and train future commissioned officers for service in the United States Armed Forces. Applying to a Military Service Academy is a rigorous, highly-competitive, and lengthy process only for the most determined and qualified candidates. Service academies routinely rank amongst the top universities in the nation. Students pay no tuition while at a service academy, but they are required to serve in the military upon graduation. Cadets and midshipmen will receive a small stipend while attending an academy as well as free room and board.

US Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch

Listed below are the five federal United States service academies:
The United States Military Academy (USMA) located in West Point, NY
The United States Naval Academy (USNA) located in Annapolis, MD
The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) located in New London, CT
The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) located in Kings Point, NY
The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) located in Colorado Springs, CO

To be eligible to apply, you must meet the following initial requirements:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be unmarried with no dependents
  • Be at least the age of 17, but less than 23 years of age by July 1st of the year you would enter the academy.

Along with these points, you will need to meet standards of academics, physical wellness, tattoo placement, and more. Check the specifics of the academy you want to apply for to find the most up to date list of standards.

The biggest questions one must ask himself or herself is: “Do I really want to attend a service academy? Am I ready and willing to serve my country?” Don’t go to an academy if you’re doing it under pressure from family and cohorts; go to an academy because it’s something you truly want and desire.These schools are not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to be challenged academically, physically, and mentally.

When applying for an academy, it is best to start applying early during your junior year in high school. If you are outside of the junior year timeframe, it is still possible to apply so long as you meet the designated age eligibility requirements. Enlisted service men and women in the military are also encouraged to apply. To do so, open a Candidate Profile through the respective school’s website (opening a profile is the only way to initiate the application process).

The next and most critical step is to obtain a congressional nomination from your local congressman or congresswoman, your two State Senators, or the Vice President of the United States. All candidates are eligible to apply for nominations from these four sources. To apply for a congressional nomination, contact your local congressional representative and both of your senators’ offices for information on their application process. The Vice President can nominate candidates without geographical restriction within the United States. To apply for a nomination from the Vice President, you can find information on the White House webpage.

The President of the United States is the source for service-connected nominations (i.e., Junior/Reserve Officers Training Corps for cadets enrolled within an eligible JROTC/ROTC program, children of career military personnel, soldiers in the armed forces, children of Deceased or 100% Disabled Veterans, or children of Medal of Honor awardees).

Ensure you apply through all applicable sources. You only need one nomination from any of these sources to be included in a pool of candidates before a service academy will even look at a potential candidate’s application file.

If applying to USMA, USNA, or USAFA, for example: There are 15,000 applicants interested in attending a particular service academy. Of the 15,000 applicants, about 4,000 of them will receive either a congressional or service-connected nomination. The service academy’s admissions office will then look at those 4,000 nominees and narrow down the list to identify nominees who meet the school’s qualifications. In the end, approximately 1,000 qualified nominees will receive appointments to that service academy. (These rounded numbers were based off a recent academy’s admissions statistics and are not exact numbers.)

Candidates are required to have letters of recommendations, strong transcripts, strong SAT or ACT scores, pass a Department of Defense Military Examination Review Board (DODMERB) physical examination, and pass a fitness test. Candidates are expected to be scholars, leaders, and athletes within their schools or communities. If you are in high school, ensure you are serving in a leadership position, whether it’s as a sports team captain, a class or club officer, or community leader.

For those who dream about attending a service academy, don’t give up if you don’t get accepted the first time. There have been numerous applicants who have applied more than once and eventually received an appointment into an academy. The academies look favorably upon individuals with grit, character, and determination.

If applying to a service academy is your goal, we wish you the best of luck!

About The Author Viv is a West Point graduate, an Army Officer, and an Army wife. She has served on Active Duty with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and is now in the Army Reserves. She is enjoying life in Texas with her Army Ranger husband (also a West Point graduate).


Tips for Military Spouses Going Back to School

Military spouses who have the desire to go back to school have more options than ever before to achieve their goal.  Going back to school is a daunting task for anyone, but a military spouse who has the added worry of PCS’ing at a moments notice, a full time family, and the exciting opportunity to choose a career that is portable but still in the range of their interests can be downright terrifying.  I have spent years navigating the college system and educational benefits provided by the military. I have some sure fire tips that will help make the process a little less painful.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns
Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Find out what you want to do before you enroll

In the beginning of my brand new college journey, I thought “I’ll just go for a bit and then I’ll make my decision about what I want to major in.”  I’ve wasted thousands of dollars going to school and changing my mind.  When you are put on time limits, as with most military scholarships, you can’t afford to waste time so it’s in your best interest to come up with a plan first.  Come up with a general idea of the field you want to begin studying.  You don’t have to nail down exactly what you’re going to do with your life, just find a general area of study and start there.

Beware of the deadly deadlines

As with everything in the military and college, there are numerous deadlines that must be strictly followed.  If you miss one you could be out for an entire semester if not year.  All scholarships are the exact same way.  I personally missed out on the GI Bill benefits due to being a week late on attempting to transfer my husband’s credits to me.  The importance of being on time, or better, early, cannot be stressed enough.  Be sure to leave enough time for corrections as well.  Even if you’ve double and triple checked all of your information, there is normally something that will need to be clarified or more documentation that will be required, be prepared for anything.

Research all the financial aid available

There are numerous ways to pay for college if you just take the time to look.  Some of the completely online colleges offer larger military benefits than traditional colleges, but they may not offer the area of study you are interested in.  Before applying for financial aid, make sure the school you have selected cater to your major and area of interest.  Some financial aid may be available for your major specifically, and not tied to the military.  Those are also viable scholarships and an excellent way to get help paying for your education.

Be realistic with your schedule

I know that beginning a new adventure such as higher education can be incredibly exciting and we can be tempted to take on way more than we can handle.  When choosing your classes, take into consideration the time you have available for school.  You aren’t going to make any progress by taking on more than you can handle and struggle with every aspect of your life.  Your college journey should be an empowering and positive experience, not a stress filled struggle to survive.  Keep your workload in check and you will be doing yourself and your family a bigger favor in the long run.

Don’t give up

It will be hard, very hard at times.  There may be times when you are so frustrated with the applying and stressing over financial aid and time that you wonder why you ever started in the first place.  But when you push through, the sense of accomplishment and pride will be enough to make all the headache worth it.  If you give up during the process of bettering yourself you will always wonder, “what if?”  My personal journey has been interrupted by work, financial hardship, PCS’ing and a baby but the pride I feel every time I walk into a classroom assures me that I’m on the right path and I would like every one of you to feel that joy and elation.

Just get started

Get started now!  As soon as you get done reading this, pull up google, type in “insert interest and ways to make money doing it.”  This should give you a jumping off point in the search for your major.  If you already have an idea of what you want to do, even better.  Find a school that offers the major you want and start looking into their scholarships and what they offer to students with a military association. Just getting started is the hardest part for some and the easiest for others.  If you need more motivation, look around you right now.  Do you have what you want?  Are you happy with what you’re doing every day?  If not, there’s your motivation for change and here is the push you need, you’ll never know what you do until you try.  Cliché, yes.  But, clichés are clichés for a reason, because they are a common truth, just get started on your new future today.

About The AuthorJenny is a military spouse, currently attending college and her husband serves in the National Guard.

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Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits for an Online Degree

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has helped a tremendous amount of service men and women and their families achieve their educational goals. With educational costs being as high as they are, programs such as the The Post 9/11 GI Bill can enable the service member to breathe a sigh of relief without having the financial hardships follow them that many students often do. The Department of Veteran Affairs lists the eligibility requirement as being:Post 9-11 GI Bill Online

Individuals who served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after September 10, 2001 or were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability after serving 30 continuous days following September 10, 2001.

Although there are a lot of frequently asked questions concerning the bill and its uses, one common question that is becoming more and a more recurrent is, “Can I use it toward an online degree?” Fortunately, the answer is YES! This applies towards not only the books and tuition but the monthly housing allowance as well. This is quite beneficial considering that the number of students attending an online college is certainly on the rise. This is not surprising considering that online schools offer many advantages. They propose faster completion options, lower costs, self-paced learning and convenience. This educational option is particularly helpful for active duty members (and their families) who want to continue working towards their degree despite facing obstacles such as frequents moves and deployments.

If you are interested in pursuing an online degree and utilizing your GI Bill benefits, you can follow the same steps as if you were applying to a standard school or university:

  1. Choose a school that best accommodates your educational goals and meets the requirements provided by the Veterans Affairs. Most universities and schools are approved; however, the VA can provide you with the defining criteria.
  2. Complete and send in the Application for Education Benefits (VA Form 22-1990). After the VA receives your application it will take approximately 6-8 weeks for you to receive the Certificate of Enrollment.
  3. Once you receive the Certificate of Enrollment you must send it in to your institution’s certifying official or department. *Note: You should contact your school’s certifying official as soon as you decide on your institution and submit the VA Form 22-1990. You do not have to wait until you receive the official COE before you contact the official at your school. They will be able to verify your submission and get any remaining paperwork underway before the certificate is received. This will greatly expedite the process.

Once you have begun receiving benefits, a monthly verification of eligibility is required in order to maintain your benefits.

As with any new procedure or application, it may be a bit confusing or daunting to start the process. Please be assured that you can contact your base’s education office, Veterans Affairs or your college’s veterans official to assist you.

The most important aspect is that you are proactive in obtaining your degree. Regardless of whether you choose an online route or a standard university plan, your degree will nonetheless be invaluable. So if online education works for you, be rest assured that your GI Bill will be waiting to accommodate you.

About The AuthorDanielle is a licensed professional counselor, a proud Air Force spouse and a grateful mother of three. She has served alongside her husband through his countless deployments, relocations and two squadron command positions. She greatly enjoys being a member of the community and is honored to support her fellow military spouses.

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