Veterans educational assistance programs offer service members who qualify a way to further their education. However, VA education programs are not exclusive to veterans, as roughly 25 percent of enrolled individuals are non-veterans. Various VA education and training programs are available for service members and veterans as well as their eligible family members. The VA offers many education programs for veterans in an attempt to ensure that veterans find a program that suits them best. Veterans and their family interested in obtaining a college degree or certificate programs should find out about the different VA education compensation programs available for eligible applicants. There are many veteran educational assistance programs, but the most popular ones are the GI Bill, REAP, VEAP, and DEA. For more information on veterans educational assistance programs, refer to the following topics:
- The GI Bill
- The Reserve Educational Assistance Program(REAP)
- The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
- The Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
Learn About the GI Bill
The first of the education programs for veterans, the GI Bill provides funding for service members and their family to further their education. Funding from veterans educational assistance programs under the GI Bill can assist enrollees with a number of educational expenses. The GI Bill consists of several VA education and training programs including the two most popular programs, the Post 9/11 and Montgomery GI Bills.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill disburses funding to education programs for veterans who have records of being on active duty for a minimum of 90 aggregate days since the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. This VA education program pays the full school tuition and associated educational fees as well as a maximum of $1,000 per month for school supplies and housing assistance. These funds make it possible for veterans to learn how to transition to civilian life by creating employment opportunities outside of the military. VA education and training programs under the Post 9/11 GI Bill for allows transference of all unused benefits to a family member. All Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits awards are dependent on the sum of credible active service a service member obtained since September 10, 2001. To be eligible to receive VA education and training programs funding, an applicant must meet the conditions for active duty.
The Montgomery GI Bill assists veterans as they attended VA education and training programs by providing monthly benefit cost payments. This program is available to service members who served at least two years of active duty. The Montgomery GI Bill groups eligible service members into four categories:
- Category 1: Entered active duty prior to June 30, 1985 and reduced pay of $1,200 for first year
- Category 2: Entered active duty prior to January 1, 1977 and have entitlement under Vietnam Era GI Bill
- Category 3: Involuntary separation for specific reasons and reduced pay of $1,200 for first year
- Category 4: VEAP transfers and National Guard members
Only veterans who hold either a high school or GED degree, served for a minimum of two years of active duty and have received an honorable discharge will be eligible for benefits for VA education and training program benefits.
Discover the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)
One of the veterans educational assistance programs targeted for reserve members who served active duty in response to a war or national emergency is The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). However, other VA education and training programs replaced many aspects of the REAP program following the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016. Despite this, VEAP education programs for veterans are still available for those who enrolled prior until November 25, 2019. For beneficiaries currently enrolled in REAP, meaning any veterans who attended a higher institute of learning on or prior to November 24, 2015, are still eligible to continue receiving REAP benefits. For REAP beneficiaries who were approved for veteran educational assistance programs but did not attend an institution by the deadline, they will not be able to utilize REAP benefits. Fortunately, REAP enrollees who did not utilize award benefits can find out how to transfer VA benefits to another program, as these individuals are typically eligible for other GI Bill benefits. Those eligible for REAP benefits who have yet to submit an application should apply to other VA education programs.
Learn About the Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)
The Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) provides matching contributions from the federal government at a 2-for-1 basis. Meaning, enrollees of the Veterans Education Assistance Program receive two dollars from the government for every dollar they provide. Like the other education programs for veterans, VEAP provides funding for the pursuit of education and training. A veteran must have elected to contribute towards VEAP from his or her military pay to participate in this type of program. Benefits for this VA education program will range from one to 36 months and is directly proportional to the number of monthly contributions made by the veteran. Veterans approved for the VEAP VA education and training program must use their benefits within 10 years of their release from active duty. If the veteran does not use the benefits within this time, the VA refunds the unused portion like a pension payment.
To be eligible for the Veterans Education Assistance Program, applicants must have entered service for the first time between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985. Contribution towards VEAP must also be between $25 and $2,700 and first occurred before April 1, 1987. If the veteran is currently on active duty, they must have a minimum of three months of contributions available for a deposit before requesting benefits. Enrollees should find out about when and where to use VA compensation benefits to take full advantage of the VA education program. Eligibility for the Veterans Education Assistance Program may be void if the military branch dishonorably discharges the service member.
Find Out About the Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEA)
A VA education and training program for the dependents of veterans who were disabled or died while on active duty or due to some service-related condition, is the Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEA). Eligible dependents for this VA education program include the spouse and children between 18 and 26 years of age of the service member. For dependents to be eligible to receive VA education and training program benefits, the service member must have:
- Died or become disabled due to some injury while on active duty.
- Been an MIA veteran or detained by a foreign power or government while in the line of duty.
- Been hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-related disability resulting in discharge.
All beneficiaries of the DEA veterans educational assistance program may be able to receive up to 45 months of benefits and select beneficiaries may qualify for up to 81 months of benefits. Benefits offered through the VA education and training program are available for degree and certificate programs as well as on-the-job-training or apprenticeships. In some cases, children older than 26 years of age may be able to petitioning for VA education program benefits. Dependents should know the age and other limitations for VA benefit programs so they can take full advantage of the available compensation from Veteran Affairs.