You only get 36 months of GI Bill® benefits in most cases. The average bachelor’s degree can take up to 5 years (60 months). There is a large disconnect between the idea of completing a Bachelor’s degree and the use of the GI Bill® to do that. At the average school you won’t be able to leave with a credential using your GI Bill®.
This is a multi-part fix. You can use one or many of these and they may or may not work at your school so be sure to ask. The examples below are all taken from Abraham Lincoln University (ALU) and veteran experiences. Whether you are looking for short term industry certs or a degree these programs can help you. ALU focuses on providing you a road map to completion so you know ahead of time what to expect and what resources you will be using to earn your credentials.
1) The Rule of 48
a) This was covered earlier in this document, depending on your enlistment, you may be able to get another 12 months out of the GI Bill® for chapter 33 if you are still active or have re-enlisted. You may already qualify for this without knowing it or if you are still active, consider this before discharge.
2) Transfer credits opportunities from prior training;
a) Not just college credits, but specific MOS training can be considered along with challenge tests. If you know an area and just need to brush up on content, a challenge test is a great way to save a lot of time and money. In addition to the challenge tests, our records show that the average veteran transfers in roughly 12 credits from past military training. You can complete your Associate’s Degree in less than 14 months. You then have the remainder of your GI Bill® to decide if you need a higher degree or perhaps transfer the remainder to members of your family.
Note: Some schools have not been trained on how to properly read a military transcript. Please be sure to point out the ACE recommendations located on your transcripts from the military.
b) Your GI Bill® and Basic Allowance for Housing is not counted as income, as a result you may qualify for need based federal grants that will allow you to save some of your GI Bill® for higher education levels. Regardless if you are active or not, these grants are federal and can make your degree and training achievable with zero out of pocket to you. You can work with a University representative to establish eligibility using the FAFSA located at Fafsa.ed.gov to determine if you qualify. It is important to note that not all schools participate in the FAFSA program.
3) Zero out of pocket policy (outside of existing grants and scholarships)
a) Some schools have their own policies that help keep veterans enrolled regardless of funding. In the case of ALU, internal institutional funds and grants are used for that very purpose. If you have reduced eligibility or have run out of GI Bill® before you graduate, there are options available for you, be sure to ask.
4) Virtual work studies (online)
a) As a veteran focused institution, we often need veterans to assist in mentoring and orientating new students into our system. Additionally there are opportunities to tutor or manage support chat for other students. These online work studies are designed to gain you additional experience, while helping others achieve their goals in exchange for tuition. Give us a call to learn more about our work studies. This is all done 100% online from the convenience of your home. Virtual work studies are need based and designed for those that have no access to educational support funds or have limited access.
Note: Request a no obligation review of your prior training and education to see if you qualify for any of these time and money saving hacks.
“GI Bill®” is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.