By an Merriman, OCPA
On August 1, a special provision for active-duty Soldiers, including active-duty reserve-component Soldiers, takes place concerning the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For them, the program pays an unlimited amount for college tuition if benefits are used while on active duty. That includes Soldiers who don't have enough active-duty time to otherwise qualify for full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. This means that not only full undergraduate course fees will be covered, but active-duty Soldiers also can pursue graduate courses and have the higher tuition cost paid for.
This special provision also applies to spouses of active-duty Soldiers if the spouse uses transferred benefits while the Soldier is on active duty. This contrasts with the program's tuition benefits for Soldiers' children, veterans and veterans' spouses and children. Their Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition benefits are limited to the highest undergraduate in-state tuition rate for a public college/university in the state where enrolled.
How does this affect Soldiers'
Many active-duty Soldiers already use the Tuition Assistance Program to attend college part-time in the evening, on weekends, online, etc. as duty schedules permit. Because the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay ALL tuition for active-duty Soldiers, they can attend tuition free even the most expensive private universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc., that charge tens of thousands of dollars per year. And the Tuition Assistance Program also remains in effect.
What's the way ahead'
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides Soldiers - and their families - with education, the foundation for success. It maximizes Soldiers' educational opportunities and the money for them. But it isn't the only education benefit program. For example, many Soldiers participate in the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Investigate fully all the education benefit programs-including the Tuition Assistance Program and the MGIB- and decide carefully which program best suits your needs.