More Than Just College — Getting the Most Out of the GI Bill CPT (r) Tyler Merritt September 14, 2016 Blog, Relentlessly Patriotic, Veteran Inspired 1,541 At Nine Line News, we’re singularly focused on helping out fellow veterans and discussing veterans issues. A huge part of that is going over opportunities that too often other resources lack. Part of relentless patriotism is pushing yourself to your maximum potential and being a productive member of this great nation. There are many opportunities that you as a veteran have earned and should make sure and take advantage of. One of the greatest developments for veterans in the post-9/11 era is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. There hasn’t been a program of its size and scope that’s allowed for more veterans to enrich their professional development like this since the original GI Bill was passed for veterans of World War II. There is a lot that the program, also known as Chapter 33 of the GI Bill (as opposed to Chapter 30, the Montgomery GI Bill), offers beyond just college. But most veterans aren’t told about these incredible opportunities to really boost their earning potential after their service is complete. Many people are unaware of this, though. So let’s get into what else the GI Bill can be used for. Background The law authorizing the GI Bill was known as the “Servicemen’s Readjustment Act” of 1944, which included aspects like low-cost mortgages, business loans, tuition and living expenses for any university, as well as a full year of unemployment compensation. This allowed veterans to not have to worry about how they would pay for school while finding their footing in the new economy that World War II had jump started back home. A True Win-Win for All It came with a huge boost for the government as well that’s still the case today — that individuals with more education tended to make more money and thus pay more in taxes. This is still the case today. In 2015 dollars, a degree will earn the average worker an additional million dollars in their lifetime than they otherwise would have earned. Assuming a tax rate of 25 percent, each graduate would pay an extra $250,0000 in taxes in a lifetime. When you subtract the roughly $80,000 paid in tuition and housing allowances, that means that in exchange for paying veterans’ college fees, they will make an additional $120,000 per veteran. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. This is also true for the vocational training programs that can also be very lucrative in the long run. Remember that there are college graduates who never make more than $40,000 per year and there are Master Plumbers with zero college who clear six figures. After the transition to the all-volunteer force, a new GI Bill — what many know as the Montgomery GI Bill — came into effect. This offered assistance, but wasn’t nearly the all-inclusive option it is today. There was also a version passed for the National Guard and Reserve forces to be able to utilize as an enlistment incentive. The Global War on Terror A new war produced a new need for some sort of similar program, and the Montgomery GI Bill was insufficient. Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, founded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and began to lobby Congress for a new version of the GI Bill that allowed veterans to enjoy financial security while in school. It passed and, as result, over 773,000 veterans have used it to finance their education since. Not Just for College One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about the Post-9/11 GI Bill is that it’s only for going to a two or four-year college. In fact, there are a number of programs available to veterans in addition to college. College really isn’t for everybody — and the Post-9/11 GI Bill helps to ensure that those veterans who prefer to work with their hands, fly planes and a host of other jobs, can pursue their dreams to the fullest. So let’s go into a few of these options. 1. Vocational Training This is one of the most under-utilized parts of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. There is an extensive list of the trades that the program can pay for — all while receiving a book stipend and a housing allowance. This can be anything from HVAC repair to obtaining a commercial pilot’s license. Additionally, they offer assistance with getting licensed and certified in many common fields and industries. This can be a great additional help when pairing these skills with what you’ve already done in the military. Find more specifics here. 2. On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training Veterans tend to be very “hands-on” people. This means that, for some, jumping right into work is the right way to go. For this, there are many companies who have agreements with the federal government to allow on-the-job training and apprenticeship. The allowance varies in amount based on the amount of time spent in the position. But this is a great resource for veterans to look into if your desire is to jump into a lucrative career right after separation. Find out more here. 3. Pass It on to Family One of the best elements of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is that you’re able to pass it on to your kids. In an era where many veterans are worried about how they can pay for college for their own children, this is a wonderful way to take the benefits you’ve earned and help the next generation prosper. There have been a few changes to this in recent years, so make sure and brush up on the basics if this is what you’re looking for. No matter what course you decide to set for yourself, make sure and attack it with the strength and vigor of your time in the military. Although it can be a tough adjustment, going from a military full of professionals to kids just out of high school, college itself is often a breeze by comparison to most people’s time in the military. Veterans are strong-willed people and are capable of more than your average bear. Look into the options available to you and look around for fellow veterans in your community. Together, we’re much stronger than we are apart.