Montgomery GI Bill checklist

Teddy T. and Cecilia M.

As you prepare to transition from active military service to Veteran status, there are many educational benefits and exciting career opportunities available to you! Benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill can dramatically cut your out-of-pocket education costs. Here’s a handy step-by-step Montgomery GI Bill checklist to help you apply for your education benefits.

What is the Montgomery GI Bill?

Veterans and service members eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) receive monthly payments that go toward educational costs. Benefits cover a variety of educational paths, from undergraduate and graduate degrees to training programs and accredited independent learning programs, to name a few. Your MGIB benefit is based on the educational program you are pursuing, the length of your military service, and whether you’ve served on active duty or in the Selected Reserves.

Two types of Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill breaks down into two options: MGIB Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and MGIB Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). MGIB-AD is available for service members who served at least two years on active duty, while MGIB-SR is for active members of the Selected Reserve, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard. Participation in the program requires a $100 monthly pay reduction for active-duty personnel during the first 12 months of active duty. Reservists receive reduced benefits for no pay reduction.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

Who qualifies for Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty benefits? You need to have served at least two years on active duty; have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit; along with other criteria. The amount of money you’ll receive depends on factors such as your length of service, the type of education or training program you choose, how many courses you’re taking, whether you qualify for a college fund or “kicker,” and how much you’ve paid into the $600 Buy-Up program. Individual service branches fund kickers to enhance recruitment in hard-to-fill or critical skill areas. To learn more about your MGIB-AD rate, visit the website.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

Who qualifies for Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve benefits? Among the requirements, you need to have agreed to serve six years in the Selected Reserve, or you’re an officer in the Selected Reserve who agreed to serve six years in addition to your initial service obligation. You also must have completed your initial active duty for training (IADT) and earned a high school diploma or GED before finishing the IADT. You must have remained in good standing while serving an active Selected Reserve unit. (You’ll still be eligible if you were discharged from Selected Reserve service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct.)

Your monthly payment amount is based on the type of education or training you’re getting and how many courses you’re taking — or how far along you are in your on-the-job training or apprenticeship program. Visit the website to find out more about current MGIB-SR rates and how they are determined.

Steps to using your Montgomery GI Bill

Ready to apply for the Montgomery GI Bill? Here’s your handy step-by-step guide:

Step one. Get your Notice of Basic Eligibility (DD Form 2384-1) from your unit. Your unit will also code your eligibility into the Department of Defense (DoD) personnel system so the VA can verify it.

Step two. Before you enroll, contact the school or use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to find out if the VA has approved your program for education benefits. If you want to enroll in a program that hasn’t been approved, you’ll need to ask the school to request approval. If you have questions, you can contact the VA.

Step three. Gather the documents and information you need to apply, including your Social Security number and bank account direct deposit information. Request your official transcripts from previous colleges and your military service transcripts while gathering basic information about the school or training facility you want to attend or are attending now.

Step four. Choose how you would like to apply for your education benefits, whether online, by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional.

  • You can apply online by answering a few questions, and the VA will you help you get started with the education benefits form that’s right for you.
  • To apply by mail, contact the VA at 888-442-4551 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET) to request an application be sent to you. Fill out the application and mail it to the VA regional claims processing office nearest to your school.
  • To apply in person, go to a VA regional office for assistance and consult with your school’s certifying official, who usually works in the Registrar or Financial Aid office.
  • You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help applying for education benefits.

Step five. Even though you have applied for your GI Bill benefits, apply for financial aid at your school. Financial aid is based on need, using your income on your previous year’s taxes. Complete the free application for financial aid at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website.

Step six. You’ll receive an award letter called a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) if the VA has approved your application. Provide your school with this documentation.

Step seven. Submit VA forms to your college and get your school or training program to certify enrollment. The certifying official maybe someone in your school’s financial aid, Veterans Affairs, registrar, admissions, or counseling office. For on-the-job training or an apprenticeship, the official maybe someone in the training, finance, or human resources office. You’ll then need to verify enrollment at the end of each month to keep receiving payments.

Teddy T. - Class of 2021, Military Veteran

What benefits are offered through the Montgomery GI Bill?

There are many ways you can use your GI Bill benefits to advance your education and training, depending on your goals.

You can use the benefits to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree at an institution of higher learning, and if you require assistance with your coursework, the VA may help you pay for a tutor.

If you plan on training for a specific career, trade, or industry, you can use your benefits to pay for specific programs, like HVAC repair, truck driving, and barber or beautician school. To be trained in high-demand technical fields such as computer software, computer programming, data processing, or information science, the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program can match you with a leading training provider.

Do you want to start a business? You can use your GI Bill benefits or other VA educational assistance programs for training to become a business owner or entrepreneur. Do you want to become a pilot? Your VA education benefits can help pay for flight training to advance your pilot qualifications.

If you’re not ready for a traditional college course, the program may help pay for courses to prepare you for the academic challenges that lie ahead. You may need remedial courses to sharpen your math, reading, or English skills, or brief refresher courses to help you review and improve your knowledge in certain subject areas. Before you enroll in the college of your choice, you may need to take specific classes as an admissions requirement.

Under the Montgomery GI Bill, students aren’t eligible for housing allowances or book stipends and can’t receive additional benefits through the Yellow Ribbon Program. The benefits can’t be transferred to dependents.

Ready to advance your career with a college degree?

At National University, we are a Veteran-founded, military-friendly college that is fully committed to supporting our service members, our Veterans, and their families on their quest to fulfill their new career goals through higher education. We accept the Montgomery GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill®, offer tuition discounts and scholarships for Veterans, provide discounts for military family members, and help families navigate VA benefits. We are also a proud participant of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which aids eligible military Veterans and active service members in pursuit of higher education.

To find out more about military and Veteran benefits, scholarships, and eligibility, along with answers to frequently asked questions, visit our Military Resources webpage.