The GI Bill is a great way to earn money for college, as long as you don’t mind pulling a little military duty first.
Officially called the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, one provision of the GI Bill provides money for education for all military personnel after their obligations to the military have been satisfied. And, in spite of its name, the bill applies to servicewomen, too.
Over the years, the original details have been changed a bit but the fundamental benefits offered by way of the GI Bill remain intact. The education money can be used for either college or vocational school tuition and expenses.
The GI Bill was enacted after World War II as a means of rewarding service members for their involvement in the war effort and to make establishing a new post-war life a bit easier.
The only branch of the military service not recognized in the GI Bill is the merchant marines, who are considered military personnel only in times of war. Efforts to extend benefits even to merchant marines have been underway since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the act in 1944.
College enrollment soared after the signing of the GI Bill even though many GIs did not take advantage of the education benefits. Many colleges and universities saw enrollment increase several times over.
When it was first enacted as law, the GI Bill provided enough money to each veteran to fully cover the cost of education. Today’s skyrocketing education costs, however, mean the benefit amount covers only about 70% of a typical four-year college education.
A veteran can take advantage of the education assistance offered through the GI Bill for as long as ten years after separation from his or her military service. In certain situations, the eligibility period can be extended even longer.