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Highlight Updates The Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, signed by President Bush in June 2008, provides significant benefits for servicemembers on active duty and after their duty is over.148 Veterans and servicemembers with ninety days’ or more active duty service after September 10, 2001, and veterans who are discharged for a service-connected disability with at least thirty consecutive days of active duty service after September 10, 2001, are entitled to thirty-six months of educational assistance.149 The duration of service is generally based on aggregate service, not a single continuous period of service.150

Service must have occurred on or after September 11, 2001. Servicemembers are eligible whether they are still serving on active duty or have been discharged or released.151 However, only certain types of discharges and releases qualify, including honorable discharges and discharges or releases for certain medical conditions or hardships.152 Those still on active duty may be better served using existing benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs has information to help servicemembers choose the best options.153

In order to qualify, the student must be pursuing an approved program of education.154 The categories of approved programs include undergraduate and graduate degree programs, non-degree vocational programs, on-the-job training, online programs, and apprenticeships.155 For college degree programs, the amount that can be received for a public institution is the actual net cost for in-state tuition and fees assessed by that institution.156 The amount that can be received for a private institution is capped unless the institution participates in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, described below.157 For non-college-degree programs (including vocational certificate programs), the amount that can be received is the lesser of the actual net cost for in-state tuition and fees or the national maximum statutory cap for private institutions.158

Students receive money not only for tuition but, in many cases, are also eligible for housing allowances, a stipend for books and supplies, and in some cases even relocation payments.159 Some assistance is also available for students pursuing education on a half-time, or less than half-time, basis.160 In some situations, the benefit may be transferred to the servicemember’s spouse or children.161 The benefits are tiered based on the aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, with full benefits for thirty-six months of service and partial benefits for service between ninety days and thirty-six months.162 In addition, veterans who are discharged due to a service-connected disability with at least thirty continuous days of active duty service are eligible for full benefits.163

The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program—or Yellow Ribbon Program, as it is more commonly called—allows students to receive additional benefits when attending participating private institutions or when attending a public institution as an out of-state student.164 Institutions that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program voluntarily choose an amount to contribute to the qualifying student’s costs for tuition and fees. In addition to the standard benefit provided under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs matches the amount contributed by the participating institution, up to the full cost of tuition and fees.165 Only veterans eligible for 100% of benefits can take advantage of the Yellow Ribbon Program.166

The time period to use these benefits expires at the end of the fifteen-year period beginning on the date of the individual’s last discharge or release from active duty.167


  • 148 {148} Pub. L. No. 110-252, ch. 33, 122 Stat. 2357 (June 30, 2008), codified at 38 U.S.C. §§ 101, 3301, 3311–19, 3321–25, amended by Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-146, § 701, 128 Stat. 1754 (Aug. 7, 2014). See generally U.S. Senate Health, Educ., Labor & Pensions Comm., Is the New G.I. Bill Working?: For-Profit Colleges Increasing Veteran Enrollment and Federal Funds (July 30, 2014).

    The regulations implementing the Post-9/11 G. Bill are located at 38 C.F.R. §§ 21.9500-21.9770.

  • 149 {149} 38 U.S.C. §§ 3311(b), 3312(a).

  • 150 {150} 38 U.S.C. § 3311(b).

    However, veterans qualifying due to discharge for a service-connected disability must have thirty days’ continuous service. 38 U.S.C. § 3311(b)(2).

  • 151 {151} 38 U.S.C. § 3311(b).

  • 152 {152} 38 U.S.C. § 3311(c).

  • 153 {153} The Department of Veterans Affairs has information about the program on its website at See Katherine Kiemle Buckley & Bridgid Cleary, The Restoration and Modernization of Education Benefits Under the Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act of 2008, 2 Veterans L. Rev. 185 (2010) (providing background information about veterans’ education benefits).

  • 154 {154} 38 U.S.C. § 3313(a).

    Programs are approved for the purposes of the Post-9/11 GI Bill if they are approved under 38 U.S.C. §§ 3001–3035. 38 U.S.C. § 3313(b).

  • 155 {155} 38 U.S.C. § 3313.

  • 156 {156} Id.

  • 157 {157} The cap for private institutions was $17,500 for the term beginning August 1, 2011. Every subsequent August 1, the cap is adjusted by the percentage increase equal to the most recent percentage increase determined under 38 U.S.C. § 3015(h). 38 U.S.C. § 3313(c)(1)(A)(ii)(II)(bb) (for veterans), (e)(2)(A)(ii)(II)(bb) (for active duty students).

    The cap as of August 1, 2018, is $23,671.94. See U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) Payment Rates for 2018 Academic Year (Aug. 1, 2018–July 31, 2019), available at

  • 158 {158} 38 U.S.C. § 3313(g)(3)(A).

  • 159 {159} 38 U.S.C. §§ 3313, 3318.

  • 160 {160} 38 U.S.C. § 3313(f).

  • 161 {161} 38 U.S.C. § 3319.

  • 162 {162} 38 U.S.C. § 3313.

  • 163 {163} 38 U.S.C. §§ 3313(c)(1), 3311(b)(2).

  • 164 {164} See 38 U.S.C. § 3317; U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, Yellow Ribbon Program Information 2017–2018 (lists of the institutions participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, by school year), available at

  • 165 {165} 38 U.S.C. § 3317(d).

  • 166 {166} 38 U.S.C. § 3317(a).

  • 167 {167} 38 U.S.C. § 3321.