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As military personnel transition out of active duty, they are presented with an array of opportunities. Whether they want to dive into a Career Pathway or pursue further education, Northeast Florida provides variety and support to veterans shifting to civilian life. If you are a Northeast Florida veteran who is interested in growing your training and knowledge base, you should be aware of the immense benefits the GI Bill offers you.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Basics

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a military benefit that helps you pay for college, graduate school and training programs. Although qualification standards vary, those who qualify for the maximum benefit receive full-paid tuition and fees for public, in-state institutions. The GI Bill also pays for tuition and fees for private and foreign schools up to a set cap rate.

Beyond paying for the cost of education, the GI Bill will give you a monthly housing allowance based on the average cost of living in your school’s zip code, a stipend for books and supplies each school year and in some instances, a one-time payment to help you move to school from a rural area.

To be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you must have served at least 90 days on active duty, served 30 consecutive days on active duty and honorably discharged with a service-connected disability or received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001.

If your last day on active duty was on or after January 1, 2013, your benefits will never expire. If your service ended before this date, your GI Bill benefits will expire 15 years after your last day of active duty.

How to Use the GI Bill

Your first step is to apply for schools, training programs and apprenticeships that you are interested in. There are more than 100 institutions and businesses in Northeast Florida that accept GI Bill benefits and provide educational and training opportunities. Once you’ve decided where to continue your education, you must fill out the educational benefits form to receive GI Bill funding. You may need to file additional forms and documents with your school or training program as well once you have been approved.

After these steps have been completed, the Veterans Association will send tuition and fees payments to your school and will send the books and supplies stipends and your monthly housing allowances directly to you.

Veterans have lots of flexibility with how and when they use their GI Bill benefits. One great advantage is that you don’t have to take classes full time or complete a degree program within four years to use these benefits. Since your benefits package determines how many months of education benefits you get, you could be a part-time student taking half the amount of credit hours as a full-time student, and one month of school would only count as half a month of benefits. Similarly, you could take classes from the 1st through 15th of the month, and it only uses half a month of benefits. You also may stop and start usage of your GI Bill benefits if you plan to take a break from school or revisit your education after pursuing other ventures.

Spouse & Dependents

If you choose to opt out of further education or do not use all of your eligible months of benefits, you may be qualified to transfer the unused portion of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse or dependent children. Your spouse can use the transferred benefits right away, and the same expiration date factors apply. Your child can only use these benefits once you have finished 10 years of service and they have either earned a high school diploma or turned 18. However, they must use these benefits before they turn 26 years old.

With the third-largest military presence in the country and as an ever-growing veteran hub, Jacksonville is primed to help military personnel transition into civilian life. When veterans choose Northeast Florida, both our key industries and our places of learning benefit from the skills, knowledge and dedication they invest in the community.