Everyone who enlists in the military is given the chance to sign up for the GI Bill during basic training. Those who choose to sign up agree to have one hundred dollars a month deducted from their basic pay for twelve months. In return, when it's time to attend college, the military offers over one thousand dollars a month at current rates for full-time enrollment in an approved, accredited college.
The only way to insure your eligibility for the GI Bill is to enroll when the offer is made-it's a 'one time only' deal. Most people who refuse the GI Bill do so either because they don't think they'll ever need it or mistakenly believe they can sign up for it later if they change their minds. This is NOT true. Do not refuse the GI Bill! Sign up and don't look back. Your college experience will be greatly improved thanks to that $1000 or more per month. The one hundred dollar a month deduction from your pay won't really be missed in the first year of military service, and the benefits of having the GI Bill option far outweigh any financial inconvenience.
The Clock is Ticking
Sometimes, those in the Armed Forces take their GI Bill education benefits for granted, and they can afford to--so long as they stay in the military. Once a service member goes back to civilian life with an honorable discharge, there is a ten-year time limit on to take advantage of this program, in most cases. Those who don't use the GI Bill within that ten-year period lose the GI Bill education benefit. Those who let ten years pass them by without taking advantage of the GI Bill often regret the decision, especially when it comes to certain kinds of on-the-job training or refresher programs.
Yes, the MGIB does cover these types of training if the programs meet certain requirements! There are some exceptions to the ten-year rule--those with service-connected disabilities are often eligible for exceptions or extended deadlines. Like everything else connected with life after the military, it's up to you to be evaluated, submit requests for extensions and paperwork to take advantage of your GI Bill education benefits. Don't assume the military will take care of these details, instead get some expert advice from your nearest VA representative for the proper forms and mailing addresses.
Register Early or Be Prepared to Wait
When the time comes for you to use your GI Bill benefits, it's important to register far in advance of the beginning of your first semester. In some cases, you may wait twelve weeks or more before your paperwork is viewed, processed and approved. That means three months or more waiting for your first GI Bill payment.
The good news is that you are paid for the months you attend, even if the first checks are a bit late. The bad news; the longer you wait to submit paperwork; the farther into the semester you go waiting for your GI Bill benefits. Best advice? Make an appointment with a military education counselor or your local VA representative to get a briefing on your GI Bill benefits, requirements and student responsibilities.
GI Bill Time Limit
Your GI Bill benefits have a ten-year limited "shelf life" once you leave the military, but you don't have to wait until separation or retirement to begin taking advantage of your GI Bill. You can use this important military benefit while still in uniform, collect your college money and further your career at the same time. If you do choose to wait until leaving the service to use your GI Bill benefits, remember that it can take up to six months to get initial processing of your benefits paperwork. Plan ahead and submit your forms well in advance of your first semester, otherwise you could wind up waiting months for a deferred payment!