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If you’ve served actively and honorably in the United States military for 36 months, after September 11, 2001, you’re eligible to receive benefits from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and use it to get an education from a college, university or another institution of higher learning.

In addition to tuition (the bill offers as much as the maximum cost of in-state tuition to your home state) it can also pay for books and even housing, depending on your own unique situation (the VA offers an online comparison tool to help figure out specifics like school, location and other factors).

A veteran can check on their Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits by signing in or creating an account by clicking here.

Useful Tips for Using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

(via HirePurpose)

Don’t use your G.I Bill on active duty.

This can severely limit your options when it comes to pursuing your education. You have 15 years after leaving the service to utilize your G.I. Bill benefits, so take that opportunity to attend the school/training program that fits best. It can also decrease the value of your benefits, since you may not qualify for the same amount of allowances.

Avoid using the G.I. Bill to pay for a predatory, for-profit school.

Predatory, for-profit schools are ones that are aiming to turn a profit through charging tuition, which differs from public or private non-profit universities. Not all for-profit schools are predatory, but many do take advantage of students, including vets using the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. Tuition might be higher than the allowance given to you, and the degree might not get you as far as a degree from an established, accredited institution.

Avoid using your G.I. Bill for an online school.

Taking a couple online classes is one thing, but opting for a school that is fully online can severely devalue your G.I. Bill benefits. Your housing allowance will decrease significantly if you aren’t taking a single class on campus by up to one or two thousand dollars. If you need to take online classes, take at least one class on campus to protect the value of your benefits.

DON’T waste your money before you can go to your dream school.

With most or even all of your tuition covered, it’ll be worth it for you to take your time and attend the school that’s best for you. As much as possible, think about your major as well as your career goals down the line. It might help you spending time in programs you’re unsure about.

By using this G.I. Bill Comparison Tool, you can compare benefits by school to help you learn about what education programs are out there.