Applying to use the GI Bill just got easier. The VA recently unveiled its newest method of applying for education benefits on the Vets.gov website. The other methods of applying are still available too, but being able to now use a mobile device to apply makes it much easier and faster.
The new method only applies to veterans or servicemembers applying for education benefits. Anyone else applying using one of these VA Forms:
- 22-1990e – Family Member Using Transferred Benefits
- 22-1990n – National Call to Service
- 22-1995 – Request for Change of Program or Place of Training
- 22-5490 – Survivors’ and Dependents Education
- 22-5495 – Dependents Request for Change of Program or Place of Training
… must still apply using the eBenefits website, go to a VA Regional Office, work with a school VA Certifying Official, or call the VA direct at 888-442-4551.
Preparing to apply
Before starting an application, there are three must-do things first:
- Check eligibility
- Compare education programs
- Gather required information
Because many individuals applying for VA education benefits could be eligible for more than one GI Bill, they are encouraged to check out each GI Bill option using the links provided on the website to validate eligibility.
Compare education programs
Because Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits can vary depending on the type of school (public or private), school location and whether classes will be taken online, on campus or a combination of both (determines in part the monthly housing allowance amount), the GI Bill Comparison Tool is a quick way to see the cost of tuition, housing and books at a glance for different schools. More in-depth benefits information can be accessed by clicking on the blue Learn More button.
Gather required information
When applying via a mobile device, be aware you can’t save what you inputted, stop and pick up where you left off later, so it is important to have all the information required at hand so you can finish it in one sitting. Information required includes:
- Social Security Number
- Direct Deposit bank account information (routing and account numbers)
- Military History (service periods, type of military service, if you attended ROTC and if so, dates, commissions, etc., and any contributions made like the Buy-Up Program or kickers authorized, if any)
- Post-secondary Education (name of college, university or other training facility, along with its city and state, dates when you attended the school, hours completed and type (semester quarter, clock), if you earned a degree, certificate of diploma, and course of study.
- Information on the school you want to attend (type of education, education goal, date training is to begin)
Once at the education benefits screen on the Vets.gov website, click on the green Start Form 22-1990. There are eight areas that need to be filled in:
- Veteran Information
- Benefits Eligibility
- Military History
- Education History
- Employment History
- School Selection
- Personal Information
Most sections, except Military History, Education History and School Selection, are self-explanatory. If you have the information required readily at hand, it should not take you more than about 15 minutes to fill out the application using your smartphone. Application processing takes about 30 days and if approved, you will receive your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the mail; you will need your COE when registering for school as a GI Bill student.
This new method of applying using a smartphone does make the application process faster and makes better use of time as it can be done now without having to be tied to a computer on a network, or by using pen and ink on a hardcopy form.