GI Bills - decisions, decisions, decisions

  • Published
  • By Airman Ashley J. Thum
  • 28th Bomb Wing Publci Affairs
Airmen are eligible for a variety of benefits - ranging from medical care to paid vacation time - and all members take advantage of these opportunities.

One incentive for joining the Air Force that is often not used, however, is the ability to receive a college education at little or no cost.

Airmen are given an initial choice to enroll in either the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill during basic military training, but have the option to change from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 later in their career. Family members can also receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits if their sponsoring Airman completes a benefit transfer.

Dawn Hemming-Rich, 28th Force Support Squadron Education Office education and training section chief, said there are many things for Airmen to consider, both when choosing which GI Bill will work best for them, and whether or not to transfer all or some of their benefits to their spouse or child.

"My goal is for people to understand the differences between the programs," Hemming-Rich said.

The MGIB requires servicemembers to pay $100 per month for 12 months in order to receive up to 36 months of benefits with the amount dependent upon the type of educational program the member enrolls in. Airmen may also receive additional money for tuition by contributing an extra $600 while on active duty through the "Buy-Up Program," for a possible total of $5,400 in educational assistance.

Four categories cover the details for individual cases, but the majority of Airmen currently on active duty must complete three years of continuous service to begin using their MGIB. In most cases, Airmen may use their MGIB for up to 10 years after their date of separation.

"Under the MGIB, you can get as many licenses and certificates as you want," Hemming-Rich explained.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has become a popular choice for many Airmen because of its versatility. Servicemembers are not required to pay into this program, and may receive up to 36 months of educational benefits that can be used in most cases up to 15 years after their date of separation or retirement.

"Something to keep in mind is that unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the money from the Post 9/11 GI Bill is paid directly to the school rather than to the Airman," Hemming-Rich added.

Several areas of study - including graduate and undergraduate degrees, on-the-job training, correspondence training and national testing programs - can be covered under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Tuition must not be higher than the most expensive in-state public school undergraduate program, but many institutions participate in things like the Yellow Ribbon Program to help offset any remaining cost.

Unlike the MGIB, Airmen can only take one certification or licensing test and the amount paid for it cannot exceed $2,000.

Allison Leahy, former Airman and current college student, said she chose the Post 9/11 GI Bill because it offers 100 percent tuition payment. It also pays Airmen the equivalent of a staff sergeant's basic allowance for housing and a yearly stipend for textbooks.

"It lets you go to school full time without having to work a full-time job, too," Leahy said. "You can focus more on school work."

Formerly an aviation resource management technician, Leahy is now working toward a Bachelor of Science in Geology. She said the GI Bill program is very important for Airmen whose military vocation does not transfer to the civilian world.

"It is very important to have the GI Bill," Leahy said. "And if you choose not to go to school, you have the option of letting a family member use it which allows them to better their life, as well."

Servicemembers may transfer all or some of their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse or child. Although the initial transfer must take place while the member is on active duty, they can add or detract from the amount given to their family members after separation. An additional active duty service commitment will be incurred upon the initial transfer.

Hemming-Rich encouraged Airmen not to wait too long to make a decision about which GI Bill they want and how they wish to use it.

"Come in and let's talk," Hemming-Rich said. "Don't forget to take care of you."

For more information, or to apply for a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer, visit

For additional assistance, contact the 28th FSS Education Office by e-mail at  or via phone at (605) 385-2312.