Post 9/11 GI Bill Increase Announced For August

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced increases in the Post 9/11 GI Bill® for August 2017. According to the VA official site, for the Fall 2017 semester and throughout the 2018 academic year, “the maximum annual reimbursement for those attending a private or foreign school increased from $21,970.46 to $22,805.34”.

Photo by MSgt William Wiseman.

There is also an increase in the housing allowance specifically targeted at those who participate in online-only training with no classroom attendance. That monthly housing allowance will increase to $840.50 per month, effective August 1, 2017 through July 31, 2018.

The Department of Veterans Affairs official site reminds GI Bill users that while housing allowances may change in January of a given year, the GI Bill housing allowance payouts are not affected until September for college terms beginning on or after August 1.

The GI Bill covers all tuition and fees for in-state students attending public schools. For those attending private colleges or foreign colleges, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers “up to $22,805.34 per academic year National Maximum” according to the VA official site.

There is also a GI Bill payment option for those who elect to attend non-degree granting colleges or schools. Those who choose this will be covered for “Actual net costs for in-state tuition & fees not to exceed $22,805.34 during the academic year”.

If you are new to using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it is important to know that for classroom attendance, the housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of the school you’re attending rather than your physical address. Additionally, if you are taking online-only classes, your housing allowance is calculated at a fixed rate (see above) rather than a by-zipcode method.

For some using the GI Bill, the full amount is not available, but a percentage of it. This applies to those who joined the military on or after 9/10/2001 and served fewer than 36 total months of active duty. The amount of the percentage depends greatly on the number of months served.

For example, those who served 90 days or more, but fewer than six months would be entitled to 40% of the usual GI Bill benefits. On the opposite end of the scale, those who served 30 months but fewer than 36 months would be eligible for 90% of the GI Bill benefit.

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

How Do I Use The GI Bill?

Using your GI Bill benefits involves starting a process that begins with your school choices first. Not all colleges, Universities, training schools, or other institutions accept the GI Bill®, though a great many do.

Getting Started

The first step toward using your GI Bill benefits is to apply for them through the VA online (, in person at a regional VA office (find yours at, or with a VA certifying official at the school of your choice.

U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Daniel Snider.

But does your chosen school accept the GI Bill? Is it allowed to accept GI Bill funds based on accreditation or other requirements?

Contact the school’s admissions department and ask if the school accepts the GI Bill, and how to get in touch with the person who handles VA issues on the school’s behalf. For smaller colleges, this may be one person’s part-time responsibility, but larger campuses may have several staff members dedicated to helping veterans and currently serving military members.

It’s best to assume you’re dealing with a busy, one-person office that handles your paperwork. This means being well-prepared for your dealings with your campus VA certifying official. This person does not work for the Department of Veterans Affairs, but will interact with the VA on your behalf.

Required Documentation For Your GI Bill Benefits Application

When you start working with your VA certifying official, you will need some documentation that includes your Social Security number, the bank account and routing numbers where you wish your GI Bill housing allowance and other payments sent, have any relevant transcripts send to the school, plus any paperwork that shows your current status as a veteran, retiree, etc.

Veterans will be required to provide a copy of DD Form 214 discharge paperwork. Those still in uniform will likely need to provide a copy of current orders, a letter from their orderly room, First Sergeant, or supervisor indicating that the member is in good standing and still serving.

It’s best to have as much of the required documentation as possible for your first meeting with the certifying official. You may be able to submit scans or electronic versions of your required paperwork, depending on school standards, state law, current VA requirements, etc.

Processing Times

It can take a month or longer for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process GI Bill benefit applications, which is why it’s best to begin the process as soon as possible. GI Bill housing stipends and other payments are often received approximately 30 days after the first month the student’s GI Bill benefits begin.

Your school may receive tuition and fee payments sooner (or later) than this. It’s very important to check school policy on late payments and whether the student is required to take action to remove admin holds or account suspensions because of delayed GI Bill benefit payments. In general, the school will have experience with these issues, but you should never assume that corrections to your student account happen automatically.

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

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


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 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

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).