Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowances Q&A

The following message is from Curtis L. Coy the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Veterans Benefits of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

GI Bill payments, particularly monthly housing payments, can sometimes be a mystery. You may hear about people receiving a smaller than expected monthly housing payment or not getting one at all when they think they should. Please allow me to explain how they work. Please get this out to all of our Veteran students and schools. I apologize for the longer than usual note, to summarize the key take always….

  • GI Bill housing allowance is paid after the fact. So if you start school on September 1 – the earliest you could be paid under the best of circumstances is October 1. We often hear … my housing allowance is late, how am I supposed to pay my rent, food, etc.
  • We do issue partial housing allowance. So if you were not in school the entire month (i.e.; December or January) you will get partial payment. We often hear … someone messed up my check, its less than I got last month….

“What is the monthly housing allowance?”
It’s a monthly benefit paid via direct deposit to students while attending school under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and is equal to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) of an E-5 with dependents. It is based on the zip code of the school (a chart of BAH rates by ZIP code is at<> ). Active duty members and spouses of active duty members using transferred entitlement cannot receive the benefit, but Veterans, their spouses and dependents can receive the benefit.

“When does VA send payments?”
Payments are issued at the beginning of each month for training that occurred during the previous month. For example, assuming timely certification of enrollment by the school and timely processing by VA, payments for training taken in January will be issued by VA in February. The school must submit a student’s enrollment information to VA in order to start the payments.

“Why is my payment less than expected?”
The most common reason for a smaller than expected BAH payment is due to the payment being pro-rated based on the number of days in the month that a student is enrolled. Payments are made in arrears and only for the days actually attended, so if the term starts in the middle of January, the payment received in the beginning of February will be pro-rated accordingly. The first full payment will be issued in March for the month of February.

For example, suppose you are attending school full-time and your housing rate is $800 per month. The term starts on January 19th and goes until May 14th. All months are based on 30 day periods, so months that have more or less days do not impact the benefit amount. Therefore, the payment in this case for the month of January will be for 12 out of 30 days (19th to 30th), in the amount of $320, and it will be received in February. The payments for February, March, and April will be $800 each month, and the payment for May will be $373.33 (pro-rated from the 1st through the 14th).

Also, a student must attend more than half-time to receive the housing allowance payment. Benefits for attendance at less than full-time are pro-rated to the nearest multiple of ten. For example, if 12 credits are required for full-time attendance and the student is taking 8 credits, the student will receive 70 percent of the housing allowance (8 divided by 12 equals .66, which is rounded up to 70 percent).

Lastly, lower than expected payments may also be caused by over-payments. Over-payments are usually caused by students reducing the number of credit hours for which they are enrolled during the middle of a term, which can cause payments to be made based on the incorrect number of credit hours. When this occurs, the amount of the over-payment is deducted out of future benefit payments until the account is corrected.

Other housing payment issues
The monthly housing allowance payment rate for those enrolled solely in distance learning is half the national average of the BAH rates payable for an E-5 with dependents in the continental U.S. ($684 per month for the current academic year). A student can receive the full housing rate by attending one “brick and mortar’’ class where he or she physically attends.

The housing allowance for attending a foreign school is based on the average of the BAH rates payable for an E-5 with dependents in the continental U.S. (currently $1,368 per month).

Please share this information with the students you know. Understanding when housing payments are received and planning for lower payments due to breaks between terms can be critical to ensuring student’s success.

Answers to your questions regarding GI Bill Housing Payments can be found at <>. If you have a question about your individual GI Bill payments, please submit your questions through the following link <>

Motivate 2 Educate: Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of the Motivate 2 Educate series from an interview with motivational speaker, author and television personality, Les Brown. His words of wisdom are focused on providing motivation and inspiration to Service Members pursuing or preparing to pursue their education.

Les Brown:  "You have to begin to look for ways in which you can continuously increase your value.  Studies are indicating that unless you’ve developed a new skill every 12-18 months, you are literally locking yourself out of the marketplace.  This is a time where we’re going through ‘creative destruction,’ technology is creating things that are destroying jobs as well as cheap labor abroad.  So you have to stay ahead of technology and cheap labor abroad in a global economy.  That is a given that was discussed in the book, “Future Shock” by Allan Toffler”."

Are you consistently developing and increasing your value?  Don’t know where to begin?  Identify your interests and visit your nearest education professional to develop a plan.  The reality is, as so aptly stated by Mr. Brown, that without new skills you may find a job, but you may be underemployed (i.e. not paid at the wage commensurate with your knowledge, skills and abilities).  Avoid that trap by investing the time now to get a degree or credential, thus paving the way for future potential job searches resulting in the right job at the right salary in the right place at the right time!

Motivate 2 Educate: Part 1 of 3

Motivate 2 Educate: Part 3 of 3

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LTC Eurydice S. Stanley serves as the DANTES Reserve Component Advisor. With over 23 years of military service, she serves as the voluntary education program spokesperson and assists DoD Reserve personnel and family members achieve their personal and professional education.

Back to School: Map Your Route to Success (Part 3)

This is part three of the Back to School series designed to be a step-by-step guide to make military members aware of the resources and education benefits that are available to assist in pursuing advanced education while on active duty. In part one Get Started with Self Assessments, you had a chance to take assessments that helped identify possible career fields that would best fit your unique skills, abilities, and work values. With this list of careers, part two provided tools that helped Explore and Narrow Your Options and begin to understand the qualifications that civilian employers prefer. Armed with this information, you are ready to begin mapping your route to success.

Although a professional military education counselor can help guide you through steps one and two, this stage is where you may benefit the most. Education counselors are poised to help you narrow your top two or three career choices and assist you in developing a path to achieve the education and career certification requirements necessary to become competitive in your military and future civilian career. Bring your Kuder Journey assessment results with you or email them to your virtual education counselor. If you have not already taken these assessments, education center personnel can help you gain access to them. Your counselor will also access your Joint Service Transcript (JST) (and CCAF transcript for Air Force personnel) to review the recommended college credits you have obtained through your military training and occupational experiences. For those with previous college credits from college coursework or high school AP or IB exams, the counselor will assist in reviewing these credits on your JST. (If you need to update your JST with missing training, college courses, or degree completions see JST Corrections).

Next, the counselor will discuss setting career goals and then begin discussing education paths to support reaching those career goals. Short-term goals may include things that you need to do to get prepared for college, completing an Associate degree for military promotions, or pursuing a certification. Long term goals may include obtaining a Bachelor or graduate degree and advanced licensure. Your current military occupation, family support system, and command operational tempo are important factors that will be considered as you begin to establish your education path. The counselor will show you degree options from local and online colleges that best match your needs. They are also able to show you how your credits may transfer to each college option. If you are considering online learning, your counselor may recommend that you take the Distance Learning Readiness Self-Assessment (DLSRA) to determine your level of readiness for online learning and provide insight on how you can increase your level of preparedness. Based on other factors, they may also suggest that you take the assessments in the Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) to assess your basic math and English skills. Many schools require placement tests to determine whether or not you are able to successfully complete college level coursework in math or English. If you are unsuccessful on a placement test, you may be required to take developmental coursework. OASC has features that are designed to improve your basic math and English prior to taking college placement tests.

So at the end of your session with your counselor, you will have a good idea of what school you plan to attend and potential courses that may be required to take. Stay tuned for the next part in this series that will walk you through getting started at your school, ways to get college credit outside of the classroom, and funding sources to pay for classes.

Why You Need to Utilize SOC for YOUR Education

At no other point in history have military spouses received such high levels of national recognition and appreciation for their contributions and sacrifices than during the recent Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Military spouses and family members were explicitly mentioned in the April 2012 President’s Executive Order establishing principles of excellence for educational institutions serving military populations. In that Executive Order, President Obama challenged institutions of higher learning “to provide meaningful information to service members, veterans,spouses, and other family members about the financial cost and quality of educational institutions to assist those prospective students in making choices about how to use their Federal educational benefits; ... and ensure that educational institutions provide high-quality academic and student support services to active-duty service members, reservists, members of the National Guard, veterans, and military families”[1] [emphasis added]. Spouses and college-age military dependents comprise an important subset of this military student population.

Like the active-duty servicemembers, military family members frequently relocate and have their educational progress disrupted or delayed by the change of duty station. Growing numbers of military spouses and family members have aspirations for career enhancement and for successful completion of a credential, certificate, or postsecondary education degree. Until recently, military family members relied heavily on grants and scholarships to fund their educational endeavors. Now, thanks to funding sources like My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), the Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Eligibility Benefits, tuition discounts and spouse scholarships from various organizations and academic institutions, military family members have numerous funding options and educational choices.

Military spouses who want to earn a college degree, but are not sure where to start, may ask, “How do I choose a school and program that are the right fit for me?” or “Is the institution appropriately accredited?” Additionally you may want to know whether the school will accept credit for prior learning, and/or award credit for national tests. How does the institution support its military students and their dependents? Should I take an online or classroom course? How will I pay for it? What are my education and career goals?

The vast education resources of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) provide military spouses with a variety of educational options for pursuing post-secondary education. SOC’s consortium is comprised of approximately 1,900 institutional members that enroll hundreds of thousands of servicemembers, their family members, and veterans annually in associate, bachelor’s, and graduate-level degree programs on school campuses, armories, and military installations within the United States and overseas, and through a variety of distance learning methods. Consortium institutions are military-serving with flexible policies that allow mobile servicemembers and their families to complete degrees rather than just accumulate course credit.

[1]Executive Order -- Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members, Sec. 2. Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members,

Recognizing the continuing higher education needs of servicemembers, SOC colleges and universities pledge to reduce or remove many of the geographic and institutional barriers to servicemembers and veterans who are pursuing a college degree. SOC serves as a vehicle to help coordinate voluntary postsecondary educational opportunities for servicemembers in the following ways: 1) Stimulate and help the higher education community understand and respond to special needs of servicemembers; 2) Advocate the flexibility needed to improve access to and availability of educational programs for servicemembers; 3) Help the military Services understand the resources, limits, and requirements of higher education; 4) Help the higher education community understand the resources, limits, and requirements of the military Services; and 5) Strengthen liaison and working relationships among military and higher education representatives.

The SOC Degree Network System (DNS) is a subset of the SOC Consortium. Made up of SOCAD (SOC Army Degrees), SOCNAV (SOC Navy Degrees), SOCMAR (SOC Marine Corps Degrees), and SOCCOAST (SOC Coast Guard Degrees), these colleges and universities are committed to helping servicemembers and their adult family members complete associate and bachelor’s degrees by adopting policies that in some aspects exceed those of the larger SOC Consortium.

SOC DNS Core member institutions guarantee transfer of courses in SOC DNS Course Categories, so that courses may be transferred back to the home college without prior approval, making it easier for servicemembers and their family members to complete associate and bachelor’s degrees no matter where, or how many times they move during their military career. As long as students enrolled in DNS degrees complete the academic residency requirements of the home college—25% or less of degree requirements (30% for completely online programs)—they may take approved courses from other colleges to complete the degree plan as they relocate during their military careers. The Student Agreement—a contract for degree issued by participating DNS colleges—follows the students through their academic career and provides a complete evaluation of prior learning, including courses from other colleges and universities, military training courses, military occupational experience, and nationally-recognized tests, as well as clearly identifying requirements for completing the degree.

One source of information on the SOC Web site is a series of videos developed to help military students understand the key factors central to selecting a home college that meets their educational goals and instructional needs. Envisioned as a counseling resource for Education Services personnel, these videos can be viewed by servicemembers and their family members to increase their knowledge and understanding of the decision process in the early stages of choosing a college degree program and an academic institution.

The videos were produced and directed by the Instructional Technology Department of Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri. Designed from a student perspective, these short vignettes present basic college choice information and factors to consider, steps in the decision-making process, and tools students can use as they consider their long-term academic and career goals, and prepare for their postsecondary education. The videos were created specifically for military student populations. Unique factors in the college decision process are highlighted for various sub-groups—the active and reserve components, veterans, spouses, and dependents. To view the videos and other resources on this site, visit and look for “Video Series: Selecting a College That's the Right Fit for You.”

For more information about SOC programs and resources, visit the SOC Web site at You may also e-mail or call 1-800-368-5622 toll free for answers to any questions you might have.

This article was originally posted on by Marcy Shapiro, Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges | AASCU

Military Student Loan Benefits from Dept. of ED

The Department of Education (ED) has released a brochure, entitled “For Members of the U.S. Armed Services: "What You Need to Know About Your Federal Student Loan Benefits.”
The free brochure includes special benefits and repayment options, helpful tips for active duty or deployed members, and useful student loan resources.

Service members can access the brochure at

The following is a sample of the list of military student loan repayment benefits mentioned in the brochure.

MilStudent loan bigger

Military Friendly State: Texas’ College Credit for Heroes

In response to the White House initiatives that support better education and career service programs for the military community, Texas introduced the College Credit for Heroes program. This program is a partnership between the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to ensure that active duty, former and retired military personnel in Texas receive the credit they earned for their service to our country. The College Credit for Heroes program seeks to maximize college credit awarded to veterans and service members for their military experience, helping them obtain their degrees and certifications more quickly and expedite their entry into the workforce.

Administered by the Texas Workforce Commission, seven community colleges were selected in 2011 to help create standards for assessing military training that can be used by any college in Texas with emphasis on allied health programs. In May 2013 Phase II of the College Credit for Heroes program began. Phase II expands the initiative to other professions and regions in Texas, including six new partner schools.

To qualify for the program, participants must be active duty military members, reservists, or veterans who currently reside in the state of Texas, intend to relocate to Texas within the next 120 days, or are Texas residents. The College Credit for Heroes (CCH)  system allows users to identify college credits that may be earned for experience and training while serving in the U.S. military. Earned credits may be applied to a program of study at a college or university in Texas or for credentialing purposes.

Program participants can use the system to:

  • Search the CCH databases for recommended college credits that may be awarded for military occupations, military courses, Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) courses, and designated nationally recognized examinations (CLEP, DSST, and Excelsior).
  • Request an official evaluation of your military experience and training through CCH. (As an option, if you have a copy of your military transcripts (get a copy of your Joint Service Transcript (JST) here), request an unofficial evaluation before initiating the formal process.)
  • Request a transcript of awarded credits sent to a participating Texas college of your choice. The receiving college will review the transcript and determine which credits can be applied towards the degree or certificate you wish to pursue. If you attended other colleges, you may be asked to provide official transcripts.
  • Use your CCH account to communicate with CCH staff; check the status of your evaluation and/or your transcript request; and to upload, view and download military evaluation results and related documents.

To get started or to learn more, visit

Back to School: Explore and Narrow Your Options

This is part two of the Back to School series designed to be a step-by-step guide to make military members aware of the resources and education benefits that are available to assist in pursuing advanced education while on active duty. If you have not done so, take the time to check out Back to School: Get Started with Self Assessments to learn about no cost self assessment tools to explore your career interests, skills, and work values.

After you know a little bit more about what areas you are interested in, you can began to further explore a list of occupations that may bring you job satisfaction when you transition to the civilian workforce. Kuder Journey has features to help you explore the career fields that best match your interests.

Another place of interest you might search is My Next Move for Veterans. On this site, you can search occupations related to your military specialty  by key word, or by industry. Once you locate a specific occupation, you will be able to learn about applicable knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality traits that are the best fit for the field. It also includes information on required education, job outlook, average salary, and similar occupations. The site also indicates Bright Outlook Occupations that are projected to offer more job opportunities than other fields. (For examples of some Bright Outlook Occupations that are related to military career fields, see Physical Therapy, Teachers, or Cargo and Freight Agents.) As you go through these websites, make a list of the occupations that interest you the most. Once you have done this, you will be able to group similar occupations and narrow your list to the top 5-10 career choices. The Occupation Outlook Handbook provided by the Department of Labor will give you detailed information on your top occupational choices.

It may also be a good idea to use job search websites to search for job titles related to the occupations on your list. Take a look at the education, certifications, and experience employers are requiring. If you realize that your current education level will not meet the requirements for a particular occupation, discuss your options and education benefits with your local or virtual professional education counselor. Locate the education center near you by checking out Find Your Education Center.

Graduate Student Funding Opportunities

DANTES PulseWhere has all the money gone? As a high school senior or undergraduate student, there seems to be an overwhelming wave of college funding opportunities through financial aid, grants, scholarships, athletic associations, clubs, community service organizations, etc. However, many graduate students outside of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are finding it harder to locate viable funding options to assist with their education. The list below are some resources that may help as you search for ways to pay for your graduate education:





1. Your School. Check with your school to see if you qualify for general or academic discipline specific scholarships (i.e. financial aid office, graduate admissions, college/program department, etc).

2. Search engines. Narrow your focus by doing tailored web searches using some of the popular scholarship search engines. Check out the Military Community Scholarship and Financial Aid Explorer or see Find Scholarship Money for popular search engines.

3. Doctoral Fellowships. Click on the names of the following fellowships if you are pursuing doctorate to learn about these funding opportunities:

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program

SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program

Gates Millennium Scholars Program  (undergraduate to doctoral level)

 Employer-Sponsored Programs

Many graduate students are also employed full-time. Some employers offer tuition assistance programs for employee development that usually range from $1,000 up to $5,500 per year. Your supervisor or human resources department should be able to provide you with more information on what is available. Military members have access to tuition assistance through their local or virtual education center (see Find Your Military Education Center).

 Graduate Assistants

For military members who will be transitioning soon or veterans who are looking for part-time employment while they pursue their education, a position as a graduate assistant with your university may be an option. While earning valuable job experience and money, graduate assistants are usually offered reduced tuition or tuition waivers that can be applied toward your coursework. Check with human resources or your department chair for more information on what is available at your school.

Private Organizations
The following private organizations are examples of military friendly funding opportunities:

- National Military Family Association (usually opens in Jan.)

- Pat Tillman Foundation (usually opens in Feb)

- Thanks USA (usually opens Feb.-Apr.)

- Veterans United (offers a Fall and Spring scholarship program)

For more organizations like these, see Scholarships for Military Spouses .

Professional Associations
Most fields of study have an equivalent professional association that either offers scholarships or is current on funding available for your desired career field. If you are unfamiliar, talk to your professors or program department chair about applicable associations.

Federal education loans are available and can be accessed through the Department of Education by completing your FAFSA application. As of July 1, 2012, graduate school students are no longer eligible to take subsidized Stafford loans, a popular federal loan with interest paid by the government until after graduation. For more information on the student loans see New Student Loan Rate FAQ or visit

Do you have questions or would you like to share resources that you found? Please leave a comment below.

Low Cost Colleges: Comparison Tools

There are many factors to consider and compare when choosing a school, i.e. affordability, access and availability of coursework, education and career goals, etc. Being able to afford the cost of tuition is an issue that many students struggle with. In 2012, the average cost of tuition at a 4-year public college or university was $7,135 while tuition at a private, for-profit school was $15,112 (cost = tuition for full-time attendance plus fees). However, some schools offered tuition as low as $805 (public) and $4,688 (private, for-profit). For military students currently in school or searching for a school, cost is an important factor to consider. With current military tuition assistance (TA) limits at $4,500 per fiscal year, choosing lower cost colleges and universities will stretch TA dollars allowing students to take more classes per year using TA. (To learn about other ways to pay for college see TA Alternatives: Ways to Pay for College.)

In response to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the Department of Education has developed several tools to assist in understanding the true cost of attending an institution. The College Affordability and Transparency Center  is a tool that can help with cost comparison. The Center maintains lists that help students compare the colleges with the highest (top 5%) and lowest (10%) costs. Students can also view the schools where prices are rising the fastest. In the future, the site will have a report on why these institutions have drastically increased costs and how the institutions will address rising prices.

Below are a list of 4-year public schools with the lowest reported tuition and fees for 2012. Many of these schools have distance learning programs and offer military students and their family members in-state tuition rates (for those who are on official orders to that state).

Haskell Indian Nations University KS $182
Dine College AZ $805
Colorado Mountain College CO $1,770
Brazosport College TX $1,977
Navajo Technical College NM $2,120
West Virginia University at Parkersburg WV $2,268
Palm Beach State College FL $2,324
College of Central Florida FL $2,365
Colegio Universitario de San Juan PR $2,370
Oglala Lakota College SD $2,396
Broward College FL $2,446
University of Hawaii Maui College HI $2,454
Santa Fe College FL $2,457
Midland College TX $2,490
College of Southern Nevada NV $2,513
Great Basin College NV $2,513
Western Nevada College NV $2,513
Pensacola State College FL $2,540
Saint Johns River State College FL $2,556
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City OK $2,559
Indian River State College FL $2,634
Florida State College at Jacksonville FL $2,708
Edison State College FL $2,728
University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras PR $2,746
University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla PR $2,751
University of Puerto Rico-Humacao PR $2,751
University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez PR $2,751
University of Puerto Rico-Ponce PR $2,751
University of Puerto Rico-Utuado PR $2,751
Gulf Coast State College FL $2,765
Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music PR $2,770
Northern Marianas College MP $2,820
Northern New Mexico College NM $2,822
Northwest Florida State College FL $2,851
University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo PR $2,944
University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon PR $2,944
Valencia College FL $2,972
Gainesville State College GA $2,986
St Petersburg College FL $2,988
Gordon College GA $3,016
Potomac State College of West Virginia University WV $3,058
Middle Georgia College GA $3,067
State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota FL $3,074
Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture NM $3,080
Macon State College GA $3,088
Chipola College FL $3,100
Polk State College FL $3,114
Seminole State College of Florida FL $3,131
Daytona State College FL $3,134
Miami Dade College FL $3,164
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College GA $3,172
New Mexico Highlands University NM $3,284
Olympic College WA $3,297
Bismarck State College ND $3,334
Bellevue College WA $3,392
Seattle Community College-South Campus WA $3,427
Lake Washington Institute of Technology WA $3,461
Seattle Community College-Central Campus WA $3,493
Dalton State College GA $3,622
Madison Area Technical College WI $3,654
Peninsula College WA $3,678
Northwest Indian College WA $3,720
University of Puerto Rico-Carolina PR $3,726
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma OK $3,744
Sitting Bull College ND $3,810
Elizabeth City State University NC $3,814

Back to School: Get Started with Self Assessments

Back to school advertising is starting to fill the air as parents prepare to send their kids back to school. While you are planning your children's school year, don't forget to consider yours. There are many back to school checklists, but this one is designed to make sure that military members are equipped to pursue their education goals for career advancement and civilian transition. Education and career development involve a variety of activities such as self and occupational exploration, finding available resources, and much more. Stay tuned to this series of articles for a step-by-step guide for getting on the right track with your education.

The most important part of planning your education and future career goals is assessing yourself. Knowing your skills, abilities, interests, and personality can lead to a list of occupations that may be well-suited for you. The Kuder Journey has been specifically tailored for the diverse background of military members to assess interests, skills, and work values. These assessments can lead to possible career paths that may be viable options that can help you reach your goals. To get started with taking these assessments, at no cost (for Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard members):

1. Visit

2. Register as a new user

3. Start taking the assessments

Once you have taken these assessments, Kuder will provide you with results that can help you continue career exploration and planning. These results will allow you to research possible occupations and corresponding education requirements for entry or advancement in a particular field. While Kuder is designed to be an automated career counseling tool, professional education counselors are available to provide virtual or face-to-face assistance with interpreting your Kuder Journey assessment results and answer your questions. To discuss your results with an education counselor, read Find Your Military Education Center.

For more information, contact your partners in military education,  DANTES Counseling Support at or visit the DANTES Counseling Program Web page

Kuder Customer Support can be reached at or 877-999-6227.