The GI Bill is designed to help active duty service members and veterans pay tuition and fees to obtain higher education. Many different programs are included under the bill, each with different rules and regulations. These typically depend on a participant’s eligibility and service status. Students using the GI Bill are able to enroll in a variety of academic programs, including those at a doctorate level.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The GI Hill can help pay for a doctoral program, but due to limits for benefits, you might need further funding to complete your degree.
Basic GI Bill Facts
After you have completed your military service, you have 10 years to use Montgomery GI Bill benefits and, in some cases, 15 years to use those from the Post-9/11 Bill. If you were discharged after January 1, 2013, you are not subject to the 15-year limit.
Payments are made directly to you, so you might still need to take out a student loan to pay tuition upfront. You can then pay the loan with your GI Bill payments.
During the designated time period, you can stop and start school as needed. You don’t have to remain continuously enrolled in courses to keep your GI Bill benefits. Active duty military personnel are eligible to begin using their benefits prior to completing service.
Housing Stipend for Students
Students attending school full-time under the Post-9/11 GI Bill receive a monthly housing stipend. The stipend is pro-rated by the number of days the student is enrolled during a 30-day period. The amount is calculated according to the ZIP code of the school and is the equivalent of the Basic Allowance for Housing of an E-5 with dependents.
Veterans, their spouses and their eligible dependents are eligible for the housing stipend. Active duty members and their spouses are not able to receive this benefit.
Schools Eligible for GI Bill
The GI Bill can only be used at a school with VA-approved training or education programs. However, most regionally and nationally accredited higher education institutions qualify. It’s advisable to check with an admissions counselor at the school prior to submitting an application, to be sure the program is covered.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Veterans or dependents under the Transfer of Entitlement at the 100 percent benefit level may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program is a provision of the law that created the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It allows approved schools and the VA to partially or fully pay tuition and fees exceeding the guidelines set by the bill.
Every qualified individual may not receive benefits, as many educational institutions limit participants to a set number. Each institution is free to distribute benefits based on student status and college or professional school. Benefits may vary from year-to-year
Expected Educational Expenses
The GI Bill covers 36 months of educational expenses. The benefits do not have to be used contiguously, but the average length of a doctoral program is a minimum of four to five years. Many universities offer financial support to doctoral students, but if you are unable to secure this type of funding you will likely have to pay for the remaining years of tuition out-of-pocket once you've used up your GI Bill benefits.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon FAQs
- Military.com: GI Bill: Top 5 Things to Know
- University of Texas at San Antonio: Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowances
- Military.com: Veteran GI Bill User's Guide
- Stanford: Doctoral Programs
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: Forever GI Bill - Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.