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How to Use Your Parent’s GI Bill to Pay for College

college students talk to ROTC members

If you are a dependent of someone who has served or is serving in the military, the government may help you pay for your college education using your parent’s GI Bill. This program offers education assistance to dependents of current service members, retired military, reserve members, and those who have died serving their country.

In this article, we’ll talk about the different versions of the GI Bill and how you can tap into this fantastic benefit if you are a military-dependent child. 

What is the Montgomery GI Bill?

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is a benefit awarded to military members and veterans designed to assist with the financial needs associated with education and training costs. It's named after Representative Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery, who played a pivotal role in its creation. The MGIB is divided into two primary programs: one for active duty and one for reservist service members.

The benefits associated with both programs provide up to 36 months of educational benefits, which you can use for college degree and certificate programs, technical or vocational courses, flight training, apprenticeships or on-the-job training, high-tech training, licensing and certification tests, entrepreneurship training, certain entrance examinations, and correspondence courses.

Tuition assistance rates may vary based on factors like enrollment status (full-time, part-time), service length, and training type. It's important to note that MGIB benefits differ from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which offers different amounts of aid and covers different types of training.

What is Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance?

If you are the child of a Veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has disabilities, you may be able to get help paying for school or job training through the DEA program—also called Chapter 35. 

If you fall into this category, you can view all the eligibility requirements and benefit information at the website.

What is the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), sometimes referred to as Chapter 33, is one of the most comprehensive education benefits packages available to military dependents.

With them, you will get the equivalent of all resident tuition and fees for an in-state public institution. Alternatively, the benefits cover non-college degree programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, flight training, and correspondence courses, among other types of education and training.

Service Member Eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill

The service member may be eligible for education benefits if they meet at least one of these requirements:

  • Served at least 90 days on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service) on or after September 11, 2001, or
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any amount of service, or
  • Served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break in service) on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability

If you are a dependent child of one of these qualifying service members, you may be able to use these benefits to pay for your education. To do this, the qualified service member must transfer their benefits to you.

How do Parents Transfer Their Benefits?

This is one of the most common questions we hear, and it’s important. Your parent may be able to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a dependent family member if they are on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and meet all of these requirements.

  • Completed at least 6 years of service on the date your request is approved, and
  • Agree to add 4 more years of service, and
  • The person getting benefits is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

While your parent is still on active duty, they must request a Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) from the DOD through milConnect. They can request a TEB from VA by using this link:

Request a transfer of benefits through milConnect

Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits for Dependent Children

Dependents may be able to get money to pay for these expenses:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies
  • Fees for national standardized tests 
  • Fees for licensing and certifications

Your parent can request to transfer up to 36 months of their remaining education benefits to you. You can use these benefits while on active duty or after they have separated from service. 

To use these benefits, you must meet these requirements:

  • You can’t use the benefit until you have gotten a high school diploma (or an equivalent certificate) or turned 18 years old, and
  • You must use these benefits before you turn 26 years old

You may also qualify for the monthly housing allowance even when your parent is on active duty.

Additional Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) Benefits

Here are a few other benefits that come along with the Post-9/11 GI Bill. 

The Yellow Ribbon Program

If you need more money to cover higher private school or out-of-state tuition, you can apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

A Yellow Ribbon School is an institution that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This program allows approved institutions of higher learning and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the national maximum cap for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Here's a basic rundown of how the program works:

Tuition Costs Beyond the Cap: The Post-9/11 GI Bill can cover all resident tuition and fees for a public school or the national maximum amount for a private or foreign school. However, some programs or schools have costs that exceed this cap.

Institution's Contribution: To help students avoid out-of-pocket costs that the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn't cover, the institution can contribute a specified amount of those funds.

VA's Matching Contribution: The VA will match whatever amount the school agrees to contribute, up to 50% of the difference between the student's GI Bill tuition benefit and the total cost of tuition and fees.

For these reasons, it’s wise for students to look for Yellow Ribbon Schools. You can save a significant amount on tuition by going that route.

You can find a Yellow Ribbon School by following this link: Find a Yellow Ribbon school.

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

If you’re the child of a service member who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship).

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship, commonly known as the Fry Scholarship, comes with the following benefits:

  • Up to 36 months of benefits, which can be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.
  • Tuition and fee payment (for in-state tuition at public schools or up to a national maximum rate for private or foreign schools).
  • A monthly housing allowance.
  • An annual stipend for books and supplies.


Additional Scholarships for Military Children

If you don’t qualify for any of the GI Bill benefits but still seek financial help with your college education, there are scholarships specifically reserved for you. 

Here are some helpful links to get you to these scholarships:

Fisher House Scholarships for Military Dependents

List of Military Scholarships List of Scholarships for Military Dependents

The Ultimate Guide for Military Dependent Scholarships

Military Affiliation Scholarships

Additional Help for Military Dependents

Of course, you may still have questions or want additional resources. So here are a few more helpful tools and benefits for you to check out. 

Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship

The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship allows eligible Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill or dependents using the Fry Scholarship to get added benefits. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply by clicking the link above. 

GI Bill Comparison Tool

You can use this tool to compare GI Bill benefits by school. Then, check the schools in the Appily college database to find out other essential data points, like acceptance rates and application deadlines.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Current Payment Rates

Get the current Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) rates for August 1, 2023, to July 31, 2024. And learn about how they determine how much of the total benefit rate you can get.

Find Out if You Can Get In-State Tuition Rates 

If you’re covered under a GI Bill program, you may be able to get in-state tuition rates at a public school even if you haven’t lived in the state where the school is located.  Find out if you qualify for in-state tuition rates under Section 702 of the Veterans Choice Act.

Transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferred Benefits

Get the current rates for transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits for August 1, 2023, to July 31, 2024. And learn about how they determine your rate.

How Military Dependants Can Make Confident College Decisions 

Now that you’re up to date on all the benefits you can access as a military child, it’s time to find and connect with perfect-fit colleges. One of the easiest ways to do that is by letting colleges apply to you. You can get real, guaranteed admissions offers to colleges that are the perfect fit for you. All it takes is completing a short profile. 

Or you could take our college match quiz to find colleges that are a perfect fit for you. 

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