Does the GI Bill Cover Education Expenses for Community College?

veteran studentThe GI Bill is an act of government legislature that pays for men and women who served their country to attend an institution of higher learning, which includes both traditional four year and community colleges. The popularity of the program grew after World War II, as soldiers returned from battling overseas, but students may also receive funds from the program to go back to school after serving their time. The amount that students receive is referred to as their entitlement.

How Much Money Can You Get?

Though you might think that every soldier receives the same entitlement, this isn’t necessarily true. The amount that you receive usually depends on how long you spent in the military and the agreement that you signed when you enlisted. During times of war, the military will generally give soldiers more in the way of benefits. The Post 9/11 Bill went into effect after September 11, 2001 and gave all soldiers who served at least 90 days of duty the right to receive an entitlement to go back to school.

What Expenses Does It Cover?

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, the GI Bill covers the total cost of attending a college, including tuition and any miscellaneous fees. Students may also request compensation for textbooks and a housing allowance to live on campus or in the area. The program also lets you apply for compensation while going through an apprentice program or on the job training. You may receive funds that pay for your housing and some of your other expenses until you complete your training. The Department of Veteran Affairs places a cap of $21,084.89 per year on each entitlement.

Two Year vs. Four Year Programs

The main difference between a traditional four year college program and a community college is the degree that you get at the end of your studies. Community colleges, vocational schools and similar programs award students associates degrees and certificates that you can use to start out your career. When you complete a four year program, you graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The government bill allows you to decide the type of program you want to attend. If the program requires some extensive on the job training, an internship or any other type of fieldwork, the bill should pay some of your expenses.

How It Works

If you think that the government will simply cut you a check and let you do whatever you want, you should think again. The government requires that you submit documentation and proof that you will attend college and that the school you attend has accreditation. You may need to show a bill from the school as well. The government will send checks to the school to cover your tuition each semester based on the number of credit hours that you take. You will also receive checks in your name for both your textbooks and for your housing allowance.

The government implemented this bill as a way to help military soldiers go back to school after serving in the military. Your GI Bill entitlement shows you how much money you will receive, and you can use the funds to pay for housing, tuition, fees and other expenses associated with attending community college or an accredited university.