Step 3: Choosing a School

(If you've decided to pay for college using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you'll need to get some information about each school you might attend.)

What is the maximum in-state tuition for the state where you are planning to go to school?

The maximum in-state tuition for a public school in the state where you plan to go to college and your benefit level sets the maximum payment that the VA can give you through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In order to figure out how much you could be paid, you will need to know the maximum in-state tuition and fees for each state where you might attend school and the benefit level you are eligible for.

NOTE: The maximum does not apply to active duty personnel. The Department of Defense pays the full cost of tuition and fees for service members in approved education programs.

What is your school's Zip code?

The monthly housing allowance paid under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is based on the Basic Allowance for Housing for the zip code where your school is located

NOTE: Active duty personnel (or spouses using transferred education benefits while the transferor is on active duty), those whose Rate of Pursuit is ½ time or less, or those entirely pursuing distance learning are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance.

How much does your school charge per credit hour?

What are your school's mandatory fees? You can figure out whether the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover all of your tuition & fees costs by comparing the maximum tuition covered in the state where you want to go to school to the cost that your school charges and the maximum fees to your school's fees. To do this, you will need the tuition per credit hour and mandatory fees charged by each school for the courses you want to take.

How much money can I get for books and supplies? You can get up to $1,000 per year – how much you get depends on your benefit level and the number of credit hours you are taking during the term.

NOTE: this does not apply to active duty personnel or spouses using transferred education benefits if the transferor is still on active duty.

Is the cost to me higher than what the VA will pay for my school? Do your tuition and fees exceed the maximum benefit VA will pay?

There are a few cases in which your school might charge you more than the maximum benefit you can get using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The most common cases would be if you go to a public school as an out-of-state student, go to graduate school, or choose a private or professional school. If you think that your tuition will be higher than the tuition payment you get from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you should find out whether your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. If your school is part of this program, you may be able to reduce the amount that you have to pay.

To find out more, you can:

Check the list of Yellow Ribbon participants, or ask the school directly.

If your school is part of the program, find out how much of the difference your school will cover. Each Yellow Ribbon Program school sets limits on the additional amount they will pay, and VA will match this amount. So, if your school is part of the program, and sets a $500 limit on what they will pay, then you will get your Post-9/11 payment based on the state maximum tuition, $500 from your school, and an additional $500 from VA.

Determine if you are eligible for other funding – scholarships, loans, grants – that will cover the additional cost of attending a program where costs exceed the state maximum.

Do you know how much your living expenses will be?

Comparing your living expenses to the housing allowance that the Post-9/11 bill can provide may help you decide which school you want to attend. To do this, you will need to figure out how much you expect to pay for your living expenses (housing, food, transportation, parking, etc.) in the community where each school is located.