For veterans, there are currently two programs available: 38 U.S. Code, Chapter 30 (also called the All Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program or the Montgomery GI Bill), and 38 U.S. Code, Chapter 32 (also called Post-Vietnam Era Veterans’ Education Assistance Program or VEAP). For eligibility under Chapter 32, the veteran must have entered service on or after January 1, 1977, but before July 1, 1985.
There is a minimum length of service requirement: originally the veteran was required to serve 181 continuous days, but the veterans whose original enlistment was after September 7, 1980 or who entered into active duty after October 16, 1981 (either as an officer or an enlisted member) are required to have served either 24 continuous months or the full period for which the member was called or ordered to active duty, whichever was the shorter. The minimum length of service requirement does not apply if the veteran was discharged because of hardship; was discharged under an early-out program; was discharged because of a service-connected disability; or is determined to have a service-connected disability of compensable severity. The discharge must be honorable or general under honorable conditions.
The veteran has 10 years from the date of final discharge from the period of qualifying service to use the benefits; this period may be extended if the veteran re-enters active service for at least 90 days, or is prevented from training because of a disability (including the disabling effects of chronic alcoholism). For eligibility under Chapter 30, the veteran must have entered service on or after July 1, 1985. The minimum length of service is 36 months of continuous service unless the term of service was less than three years, in which case the minimum is 24 months of continuous service.
The minimum length of service requirements do not apply if the veteran is discharge because of hardship; is discharged for the convenience of the Government; is discharged for disability; is discharged because of a non-disabling medical condition which interferes with performance of duty; or is discharged because of a reduction in force. While on active duty, the veteran must have either completed the requirements for a high-school diploma or equivalency certificate or completed 12 hours towards a college degree. The discharge must be honorable; a general discharge under honorable conditions does not establish eligibility.
The veteran has 10 years from the date of final discharge from the period of qualifying service to use the benefits; this period may be extended if the veteran re-enters active service for at least 90 days or is prevented from training because of a disability (including the disabling effects of chronic alcoholism) or because of being held by a foreign government or power. Both Chapter 30 and Chapter 32 require that while on active duty the veterans contribute specified amounts of his or her salary to an education fund account. If the veteran did not contribute or withdraws his or her contributions (Chapter 32 only), there is no eligibility for education assistance. Amounts withheld for Chapter 30 are not refundable. Both programs entitle the veteran to 36 months of benefits, except that under Chapter 30 if the veteran is discharged prior to completing the full enlistment period for any reason other than convenience of the Government, entitlement accrues at the rate of one month for each month served.
The Montgomery GI Bill also established an Educational Assistance program for members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserves (includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard). Eligibility for this program requires that beginning on or after July 1, 1985 the Reservist agree to serve a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve (an officer must agree to serve six years in addition to any other obligation). The Reservist must have completed initial active duty for training and must already meet the requirements for a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.
The Reservist must drill in a drilling Selected Reserve unit and remain a member in good standing of the unit. The Reservist is not required to contribute any part of his or her salary. The Reservist has 10 years from the date eligibility under this program first arises to use the benefits, provided he or she remains in the Selected Reserve. The 10-year period may be extended if the Reservist is unable to train because of a disability caused by service in the Selected Reserve.
If the Reservist is called to active duty, the period of eligibility will be extended by the length of the period of active duty service plus four months. Even if the Reservist leaves the Selected Reserve, he or she may still have the full 10-year period of eligibility, provided that he or she has a disability not due to misconduct; or he or she was involuntarily separated under provisions of 10 U.S. Code, Section 286(b), during the period October 1, 1991 through September 30, 1999; or the unit was inactivated during the period October 1, 1991 through September 30, 1999.
The Reservist is entitled to 36 months of education assistance benefits. VA also provides educational benefits for Civil Service employees of the United States and certain other civilians who were rendering personal services to the United States similar to a Civil Service employee, who were taken into captivity by a hostile power because of that relationship with the United States and subsequently released. Benefits are also available to family members of persons held in captivity under such circumstances or to family members of persons who die while in captivity under such circumstances. Determinations as to eligibility under those provisions are made by the Director General of the Foreign Service, Department of State. If eligibility is established, the former captive has 10 years from the date of release from captivity to use the benefits.
A spouse will become eligible for benefits from the 91st day of captivity and continuing until 10 years from the date of release of the captive or 10 years from the date of death of the captive. Children will become eligible for benefits on the 91st day of captivity, but eligibility ends the day the captive is freed or released from captivity. Further, children are not eligible for benefits beyond age 21. An eligible person under this program has 45 months of entitlement to benefits. No contributions are required.
If a person has eligibility to benefits under more than one education or training program, including also Vocational Rehabilitation or Dependents’ Education Assistance, the maximum amount of entitlement allowed under all programs combined is 48 months. The veteran or eligible person must elect which program benefits are to be paid for any given course or entitlement period. All programs charge entitlement to benefits at the rate of one day of entitlement per one day of full-time training; the entitlement charges are pro-rated for training at less than full-time. Under certain circumstances, some of the programs will not make a charge against entitlement for certain types of training. The monthly rates payable vary according to the particular program, the type of training (institutional, apprenticeship, ect.), and the rate of training.
Under certain circumstances, veterans training under Chapter 30 may be entitled to additional amounts for dependents, if training at the half-time rate or greater, except for veterans training under Vocational Rehabilitation, no other veterans or eligible persons are entitled to payment for dependents under any of the programs. All of the programs allow essentially similar types of training:
Degree programs at a college or university, independent courses of study; certificate programs from a trade, business or vocational school; apprenticeship or on-job training programs; farm cooperative training programs; high school level programs (Chapter 32 veterans, former captives and spouses); remedial, refresher or deficiency courses; correspondence courses; vocational flight training (except former captives and family members). None of the programs will pay benefits for self-improvement courses, courses given by radio or entirely on television, bartending courses, an educational, professional or vocational objective.