Getting into grad school is difficult and expensive. Tuition can easily cost three time as much as it does for undergraduate courses. Savvy servicemembers who know they are going to grad school use the Tuition Assistance program while serving to get their bachelor degree, thus preserving their GI Bill entitlement for an advanced degree.

If you are considering getting out, it may be wise to consider using your GI Bill for graduate school now before seeking employment. Regardless of your career field, having a master’s degree increases not only opportunities for employment, but also starting salary.

Fortunately, your GI Bill will not only help pay for your MBA, but it can also be used to help pay for entrance examination test costs if your school requires Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores on your application.

GI Bill Reimbursement for Test Costs

If you must take an entrance test, the VA can reimburse you up to $2,000 per test with no limit on the number of tests reimbursed (providing you have GI Bill entitlement left to use). They will even reimburse you for tests that you did not pass. However for each test reimbursed, remaining GI Bill entitlement is reduced. The amount depends on which GI Bill is used.

Entitlement Use

Depending on the GI Bill, entitlement use for reimbursement will vary. For example, the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) entitlement use is charged based on the cost of the test verses the monthly rate for this GI Bill. Using a sample test cost of $500, and the current MGIB-AD monthly rate of $1,857, entitlement charged would be 3.71 of a month or about 8 days. However, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a full 30 days would be deducted from your remaining entitlement for the same $500 test.

When seeking reimbursement, you have to pay for the test costs up front and then submit VA Form 22-0810 – Application for Reimbursement of National Exam Fee. While a receipt of proof is usually not required, it is a good idea to submit a copy of the test cost anyway as a precaution; it can shorten up the time until you get your money back.

When claiming reimbursement, include the fees for:

  • Registration
  • Specialized tests
  • Administrative fees

… but do not include:

  • Pre-test fees
  • Quick score fees
  • Fees for optional items not required to take an approved test

The VA is not authorized to reimburse these last three costs.

The GMAT Waiver

As a veteran, your school might not require taking the GMAT or GRE test. For veterans having five years or more of military service, many schools offer a waiver, thus eliminating the need to take the test.

The reasoning? Most military members already have the leadership and decision-making skill that is tested by the GMAT. While some schools offer the GMAT waiver for veterans, others do not.

It is something worth considering when looking for a grad program at a school. Contact your school to see if they do offer a waiver and if so, the process to secure one.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.