What Does 100% GI Bill Cover? Comprehensive Guide for Veterans

by | Military Finance | 1 comment

If you’re a veteran or active-duty service member, the GI Bill can be a game-changer for your education and career. But what exactly does the 100% GI Bill cover? Understanding the full extent of its benefits can help you make the most of this valuable resource.

From tuition and fees to housing allowances and book stipends, the GI Bill offers comprehensive support designed to ease the financial burden of higher education. Knowing what’s covered can help you plan your educational journey more effectively and take full advantage of the opportunities available to you.

Overview of the 100% GI Bill Benefits

The 100% GI Bill benefits offer comprehensive support, helping veterans and active-duty service members pursue higher education without financial strain. Understanding these benefits ensures you maximize your entitlements, easing the transition to civilian life.

Tuition and Fees Coverage

The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers full tuition and fees for in-state public schools. If you attend a private or foreign institution, it caps the tuition at approximately $26,042 per year. The Yellow Ribbon Program assists further by covering out-of-state or additional private tuition costs. Schools must participate in the program for you to access these additional funds, so check with your institution.

Monthly Housing Allowance

The Housing Allowance, based on the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates, supports living costs. It varies by zip code and the number of credit hours taken but averages around $1,700 per month for full-time students. Online-only students receive a housing allowance of about $917 monthly. This benefit helps you focus on studies without the distraction of housing expenses.

Books and Supplies Stipend

Books and Supplies Stipend provides up to $1,000 per academic year for materials. The payment distributes proportionally based on credit hours: $41 for each credit hour, up to a max of 24 credit hours. Receiving this stipend eases the cost of necessary educational materials, enabling you to secure textbooks and other supplies essential for coursework.

These basic components form the backbone of the 100% GI Bill benefits, revealing educational opportunities and relieving financial burdens for service members.

Eligibility Criteria for 100% GI Bill Benefits

To take full advantage of your 100% GI Bill benefits, you must meet specific eligibility criteria related to your service and education. Let’s break these down.

Service Requirements

Active-duty service members and veterans have varying pathways to qualify for 100% GI Bill benefits. Generally, three years of active duty are necessary for full eligibility. Here are the key service-related criteria:

  • Active Duty Service: 36 months on active duty enables access to full benefits. If you served less, partial benefits might apply.
  • Purple Heart Recipients: Any service member wounded in action, regardless of total service duration, qualifies automatically.
  • Certain Service Periods: Post-9/11 service starting after September 10, 2001 qualifies. Breaks in service don’t affect eligibility if cumulative active duty meets thresholds.

Educational Requirements

Beyond service, meeting specific educational prerequisites ensures you can use your benefits. These include:

  • Enrollment in Approved Programs: Enroll only in VA-approved higher education programs. This includes undergraduate, graduate degrees, and vocational training.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress: Maintain academic progress to continue receiving benefits. Falling below required standards might affect your stipend.
  • Application Process: Submit a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. Complete and submit the VA Form 22-1990 application online or by mail.

Ensure you stick to these requirements to fully benefit from the GI Bill’s educational support.

Additional Benefits Under the 100% GI Bill

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program can help if attending a private or out-of-state school where tuition exceeds the GI Bill’s annual cap. Schools and the VA share the extra cost, easing the financial burden. For example, if tuition is $40,000 but the GI Bill covers $25,162 annually, the difference of $14,838 could be split between the school and the VA.

Transfer of Entitlements

Service members can transfer unused GI Bill benefits to immediate family members, which helps make education more accessible. Spouses and children may receive tuition coverage, book stipends, and housing allowances. Ensure the service member has at least six years of active duty and agrees to serve an additional four years if considering this option.

Comparing GI Bill with Other Veteran Educational Benefits

Post-9/11 GI Bill vs. Montgomery GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill offer distinct benefits for veterans aiming for higher education. The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers full tuition and fees for in-state public institutions, housing allowance, and up to $1,000 annually for books and supplies. Eligibility hinges on at least 90 days of aggregate service post-9/11 or 30 continuous days if discharged due to service-connected disability. Benefits can be transferred to dependents.

The Montgomery GI Bill, on the other hand, provides up to 36 months of education benefits, but funding is structured differently. Veterans receive a monthly education stipend, currently up to $2,150, depending on their academic load. Enrollment in this program involves a $1,200 deduction from the service member’s pay during their first year of active duty. Unlike the Post-9/11 GI Bill, benefits aren’t transferable to dependents.

Additional Federal and State Benefits

Other federal and state educational benefits complement the GI Bill, providing added financial support for veterans.

Federal Benefits: The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities in achieving independent living. VR&E funds various educational expenses, including tuition, books, and supplies. Also, the Federal Pell Grant awards funds based on financial need, which can be used alongside GI Bill benefits.

State Benefits: States like Texas offer the Hazlewood Act, waiving tuition and fees for up to 150 credit hours at public institutions for eligible Texas veterans. California provides the College Tuition Fee Waiver for dependents of disabled or deceased veterans, eliminating tuition costs at California community colleges, California State Universities, and University of California systems.

Knowing these benefits enhances your educational planning, ensuring you maximize available resources.


Understanding the 100% GI Bill is essential for making the most of your educational benefits. By familiarizing yourself with the coverage, eligibility, and additional state and federal programs, you can optimize your resources. Whether you’re comparing the Post-9/11 GI Bill to the Montgomery GI Bill or exploring the Transfer of Entitlements option, knowing your benefits helps you plan effectively. Take full advantage of what the GI Bill offers to support your academic and career goals.


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