The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a benefit for the latest generation of service members and veterans, as well as their eligible dependents. It includes payment of tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for textbooks and supplies.

The amount of time a veteran spends on active duty determines their benefit level. In general, the higher the level, the less individuals have to pay out of pocket for school. The benefit maxes out at full coverage of in-state tuition at public universities.

Here’s what veterans who received an honorable discharge after Sept. 10, 2001, are eligible for, based on the amount of time they’ve served:

  • 100%: 36 months or more of active duty service, or discharged after at least 30 continuous days due to a service-connected disability
  • 90%: 30–36 months
  • 80%: 24–30 months
  • 70%: 18–24 months
  • 60%: 6–18 months
  • 50%: 90 days–6 months
  • No benefit: Fewer than 90 days

Veterans who served before Sept. 10, 2001, are not eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Another deadline vets should be aware of: If someone’s service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will expire 15 years after they last separated from active duty. If their service ended in 2013 or later, the benefit does not expire.

What it covers

Veterans can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for courses at a college, university, trade school, flight school or apprenticeship program.

While the benefit covers all in-state tuition and fees at public institutions, it may not have the same reach at a private or foreign school. The maximum tuition coverage for private nonprofit, private for-profit and foreign schools for the 2023-2024 school year was $27,120.05. That figure is expected to increase again in August.

Housing stipend

The housing stipends GI Bill users receive depend on the level of benefits they’re eligible for, how many courses they take and where they go to class.

The rate is determined by the Defense Department’s Basic Allowance for Housing scale and is paid at the same rate an active duty E-5 with dependents would receive in a particular area. If veterans are pursuing a degree entirely online, they will get half of the national BAH average.

Congress passed changes to the program at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to allow students forced online by campus closures and virus mitigation efforts to receive full housing benefits. Those protections have now expired, but could be used again in similar cases of national emergency under legislation enacted in 2022.

In the past, the Department of Veterans Affairs based the housing allowance on the location of a school’s main campus, even if a student took classes at a different branch. However, in 2019, the “Forever GI Bill” directed the VA to instead link the housing stipend to the location where a student attends most of their classes.

Transfer rules

Service members may transfer their benefits to a dependent, provided they have already served in the military for at least six years and agree to serve for four more after DOD approves the transfer.

The transfer must happen while an individual is still in uniform. Veterans who have already separated from the military are not eligible to transfer their benefits. Children are only eligible to start using the transferred benefits after the service member who gave them the funds has completed at least 10 years of service. Spouses can use the transferred benefits right away.

What’s new?

A pending court case could allow veterans who are eligible for both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill to consecutively use both benefits, essentially giving some veterans another 12 months of education benefits. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case later this year.

The Montgomery GI Bill program preceded the Post-9/11 GI Bill and is being phased out. It offers far less money than the new program, but still can provide several thousands of dollars annually to veterans for tuition costs if they paid into the system at the start of their military service.

Active duty service members in August 2022 became eligible for the VA Yellow Ribbon program, which allows private schools to match VA benefits with their own tuition assistance.

More online

Tuition assistance

More education benefits are also available to service members.

While troops can begin to use their GI Bill benefits on active duty, their service branch can often help them pay for college by using tuition assistance first — saving the GI Bill for later.

TA is a federal benefit that covers the cost of tuition, up to certain limits, for active duty service members, as well as some members of the National Guard and Reserves. The military services directly pay those funds to schools. Generally, all service members must have enough time remaining in service to complete any courses in which they enroll.

Each service has its own requirements.

  • Air Force: All officers incur a service requirement if they use TA, but there is no service-length requirement to begin using the benefit.
  • Navy: Enlisted sailors and officers, including Navy Reservists, must have a minimum of three years of military service before becoming eligible to use TA.
  • Army: Active duty officers incur a two-year service obligation if they enroll in classes. Reserve component officers incur a four-year service obligation.
  • Marine Corps: After previously having to wait 18 to 24 months to use TA, Marines now have no minimum service-length requirements for the benefit. However, they must agree to at least two more years of active duty service to use the benefit.
  • Coast Guard: Active duty members must have been on long-term active orders for more than 180 days to access TA. The Coast Guard also has unit-specific requirements and requires commanding officer approval.
  • National Guard/Reserve: Soldiers who are activated or on drill status are eligible under the same conditions as active duty Army personnel. Air National Guardsmen and reservists of other branches are eligible for TA if they are activated, and the use of TA often comes with a service obligation once the last course is completed.


All of the services cap tuition assistance at $250 per credit hour and $4,500 per fiscal year.

Generally, TA funds can be used to pursue a higher degree than what troops have already earned, up to a master’s degree. For instance, if someone has a bachelor’s degree, they can then pursue a graduate degree — not an associate degree or a second bachelor’s degree, though there are some exceptions.

Some branches require troops to create a degree plan or take a branch-specific course before TA benefits are approved.

Read more from the 2024 Pay and Benefits Guide here.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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