Does the GI Bill Cover Flight Training Expenses?

The GI Bill does cover flight training expenses, but there are certain restrictions. Below explains about the details of what is and what is not covered. 

The Basics

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers aviation training benefits to service members who want to achieve advanced pilot qualifications. First, the candidate must already have a private pilot’s license and must have completed the mandatory medical exam. The aviation school must submit verification of enrollment and proof of graduation to the VA in order for the tuition to be reimbursed. Only certain types of flight training are covered, such as B747-400, rotary wing, dual engine and flight engineer programs.

Older Benefit Bills

While service members must adhere to the basic benefit participation requirements, the actual payment amount depends on the specific bill and aviation school. For example, any 2015 payments which fall under the older Montgomery Bill (MGIB) will cover service members enlisted for over three years at $1,789 every month and those enlisted less than three years at $1,454 every month. In 2015, the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) reimburses pilot training at three levels: 40 percent, which covers 24 percent of the course, 60 percent, which covers 36 percent of the course and 80 percent, which covers 48 percent of the course.

Newer Benefit Bills

Aviation training reimbursements under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill vary based on the type of aviation training and school of enrollment. Service members who are enrolled in an aviation training degree program at a public university will be reimbursed at the in-state cost of the training. In addition to this, they will also receive monthly housing and book and supplies allowances. In 2015, the annual national maximum amount was around $20,000, but in 2016 the amount is approximately $21,000. Service members who attend a public university that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program may be eligible for extra payments. Vocational aviation schools are reimbursed at approximately $12,000 every academic year.

VA Approved Flight Schools

Service members must be aware that reimbursements are only available for VA approved and FAA Part 141 approved flight schools. This means that the flight institution of higher learning must be endorsed by an approving State agency. Private flight courses offered by individual instructors are not eligible. Aero clubs may be considered flight schools if they meet certain requirements, such as having an FAA pilot school certificate, training center certificate or exemption letter that permits the institution to offer pilot training by flight simulators.

GI Bill Tips

It is an unfortunate fact that some veterans waste or fail to take full advantage of their G.I. Bill benefits. First, be sure to postpone using G.I. Bill benefits while on active duty. Trying to use the Bill while on active duty is a mistake because education options will be limited to the areas around the base. Even more important, there are many additional financial incentives awarded to veterans, such as housing relocation allowances. Second, analyze your financial resources and military career commitment because the length of active duty service will directly affect the benefit amount. 

The GI Bill offers a variety of educational reimbursements, such as annual flight training and housing allowances.