Federal and State Benefits
Federal Benefit Programs
The MGIB-AD program provides education benefits to Veterans and Service members who
have at least two years of active duty.
Eligible Service members may receive up to 36 months of education benefits. The monthly benefit paid to you is based on the type of training you take, length of your Service, your category, any college fund eligibility, and if you contributed to the $600 buy-up program. You usually have 10 years to use your MGIB benefits, but the time limit can be fewer or more years depending on the situation. View the current payment rates.
$600 Buy-Up Program. Some Service members may contribute up to an additional $600
to the GI Bill to receive increased monthly benefits. For an additional $600 contribution,
you may receive up to $5,400 in additional GI Bill benefits. The additional contribution
must be made while on active duty. View the increased monthly rates and contact your personnel or payroll office.
You may be eligible if you have an honorable discharge; AND you have a high school diploma or GED or in some cases 12 hours of college credit; AND you meet the requirements of one of the categories below:
- Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985
- Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months
- Continuously served for three years or two years, if that is what you first enlisted for or if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served four years (the 2 by 4 program)
- Entered active duty before January 1, 1977
- Served at least one day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85, and stayed on active duty through 6/30/88, (or through 6/30/87 if you entered the Selected Reserve within one year of leaving active duty and served four years)
- On 12/31/89, you had entitlement left from Vietnam-era GI Bill
- Not eligible for MGIB under Category I or II
- On active duty on 9/30/90 AND separated involuntarily after 2/2/91
- OR involuntarily separated on or after 11/30/93
- OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program
- Before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1,200
- On active duty on 10/9/96 AND you had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date AND you elected MGIB by 10/9/97
- OR you entered full-time National Guard duty under title 32, USC, between 7/1/85, and 11/28/89, AND you elected MGIB during the period 10/9/96-7/08/97
- Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution
Apply now by completing the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP).
The MGIB-SR program provides education and training benefits to eligible members of
the Selected Reserve, including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve,
Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Army National Guard and the
Air National Guard. Eligibility for this program is determined by the Selected Reserve
components and VA makes the payments.
To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985. If you are an officer, you must have agreed to serve six years in addition to your original obligation. For some types of training, it is necessary to have a six-year commitment that begins after Sept. 30, 1990.
- Complete your initial active duty for training (IADT).
- Meet the requirement to receive a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before completing IADT. You may not use 12 hours toward a college degree to meet this requirement.
- Remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit. You will also retain MGIB-SR eligibility if you were discharged from Selected Reserve service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct. Your eligibility period may be extended if you are ordered to active duty.
Follow these steps to become eligible and apply:
- Get the DD Form 2384-1, Notice of Basic Eligibility, when you become eligible for the program from your unit. Your unit will also code your eligibility into the DoD personnel system so VA may verify your eligibility.
- Then make sure your selected program is approved for VA training. If you are unsure, VA will inform you and the school or company about the requirements.
- Apply by completing the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP).
The Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education
and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently
and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while
on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
Type of Assistance
Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances. View the DEA pamphlet.
Available Benefits and Eligibility
You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs. View the current payment rates.
If you are eligible for both Fry Scholarship and DEA, you will be required to make an irrevocable election between the two programs when you apply. Dependents are not eligible to receive both DEA and Fry Scholarship based on the same event (like a Servicemember dying in the line of duty) unless he or she is a child whose parent died prior to August 1, 2011. A child whose parent died before August 1, 2011, may be eligible for both benefits but he/she may only use one program at a time and combined benefits are capped at a total of 81 months of full-time training. In this situation, the two benefit programs cannot be used concurrently.
You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:
- A Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the armed forces.
- A Veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
- A Servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- A Servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- A Servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. This change is effective Dec. 23, 2006.
Other Factors to Consider
If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. In certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26. Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the armed forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA can extend your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st birthday, there are some exceptions.
Please note that a child over 18 years old using DEA will not be eligible to receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments from VA. Receiving DEA payments bars a child from receiving DIC payments.
If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran. If VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of three years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. This change is effective Oct. 10, 2008, and no benefits may be paid for any training taken prior to that date. A spouse using DEA (of the Fry Scholarship) remains eligible to receive DIC payments from VA.
For surviving spouses of Service members who died on active duty, benefits end 20
years from the date of death.
To apply, take these steps depending on your situation:
- Make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. Take a look at our GI Bill Comparison Tool for more information. VA can inform you and the school or company about the requirements.
- If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the
application. If you are eligible for both DEA and Fry, you will be required to make
an irrevocable election unless you are a child of a Servicemember who died in the line-of-duty prior to August 1,
Those eligible for DEA benefits may also be eligible for this additional assistance:
- Special Restorative Training VA may prescribe special restorative training where needed to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability for the purpose of enabling an eligible person to pursue a program of education, special vocational program, or other appropriate goal. Medical care and treatment or psychiatric treatments are not included.
- Special Vocational Training VA may also approve these benefits for an eligible person who is not in need of special restorative training, but who requires such a program because of a mental or physical disability.
- Section 301 of Public Law 109-461 adds a new category to the definition of eligible person for DEA benefits. The new category covers the spouse or child of a person who VA determined has a service-connected permanent and total disability; and is at the time of VAs determination is a member of the armed forces who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment; and is likely to be discharged or released from service for this service-connected disability. Persons eligible under this new provision may be eligible for DEA benefits effective Dec. 23, 2006, the effective date of the law.
Services that may be provided by the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program include:
- Comprehensive evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
- On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
- Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
Active Duty Service members are eligible if they:
- Expect to receive an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge upon separation from active duty
- Obtain a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and
- Apply for VR&E services
Or (until December 31, 2015)
- Are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) or are certified by the military as having a severe injury or illness that may prevent them from performing their military duties
- Apply for VR&E services, and
- Report for an evaluation with a VR&E counselor before separating from active duty
Veterans are eligible if they:
- Have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable
- Have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from VA
- Apply for VR&E services
Basic period of Eligibility
The basic period of eligibility ends 12 years from the date of notification of one of the following:
- Date of separation from active military service, or
- Date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating.
If you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged Veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program. You can also review the program pamphlet.
If you have eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and any other GI Bill program you must make an irrevocable election of the Post-9/11 GI Bill before you can receive any benefits. For more information see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has a few specific components that are unavailable in other GI Bill programs:
View information on the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) for dependents of Service members who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001.
Types of Training
The following assistance is approved under the Post-9/11 GI Bill:
- Correspondence Training
- Cooperative Training
- Entrepreneurship Training
- Flight Training
- Independent and Distance Learning
- Institutions of Higher Learning Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees
- Licensing and Certification Reimbursement
- Vocational/Technical Training, Non-College Degree Programs
- National Testing Reimbursement
- On-The-Job Training
- Tuition Assistance Top Up
- Tutorial Assistance
- Vocational/Technical Training
Benefits and Eligibility
For approved programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits, generally payable for 15 years following your release from active duty. Institutions of higher learning participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program may make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. The following payments may also be available:
- Monthly housing allowance
- Annual books and supplies stipend
- One-time rural benefit payment
Basic Allowance Housing (BAH) rates are set at the E-5 plus dependents level of the Zip code of the school you are attending, and the funds are direct deposited into your account that paid on the first for the month prior. The 2015-2016 rate for Harper College is $2,065 per month. BAH for other areas are listed here.
Some Service members may also transfer unused GI Bill benefits to their dependents.
Military Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corp, Navy and National Guard. Congress has given each Service the ability to pay up to 100% for the in-district tuition expenses of its members.
Each Service has its own Tuition Assistance criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process and restrictions described on their portal. This money is typically paid directly to the institution by the individual Service. Students considering using Tuition Assistance are encouraged to first speak with his or her Education Service Officer, military counselor, or Service representative. Students are also encouraged to seek approval from installation commanders. Local assistance is also available to discuss your federal benefits with an Illinois Veteran Service Officer.
If an eligible Service member decides to use Tuition Assistance, educational institutions
will enroll him or her only after the Tuition Assistance is approved by the individual's
Military Service Education Portals
The Tuition Assistance program provides financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs in support of a Soldier's professional and personal self-development goals. Tuition Assistance is available for classroom and distance learning courses and is part of an approved academic degree or certificate program. For more information and to begin the application process, please follow the link to your branch’s educational portal.
State Benefit Programs
The Illinois Veterans Grant Program pays tuition and fees for either undergraduate or graduate study at all Illinois public colleges and universities. Recipients may use their grant assistance up to a maximum of 120 eligibility units.
- You were an Illinois resident six months prior to entering active duty.
- You returned to the state of Illinois within six months of being separated from active duty.
- You served on active duty for a total of 12 or more months.
- You received honorable discharge.
IVG covers resident tuition and mandatory fees. Mandatory fees are defined by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission as: The charges assessed by an institution to each and every full-time student for each term. Application, graduation, laboratory, breakage, add/drop fees, and program administrative fees for out-of-state or foreign study are specifically excluded. For the purpose of ISAC rules, tuition is not a mandatory fee.
Questions? Contact the ISAC Special Awards Unit at 800-899-4722 or Harper College's One Stop at 847-925-6710.
Enlisted or officers of Illinois National Guard Units with one or more years of service may be eligible for payment of tuition at state universities and colleges in Illinois through the ING. Recipients may use their grant assistance up to a maximum of 120 eligibility units.
- You are an enlisted or company grade officer of an Illinois National Guard Unit.
- You have one or more years of service.
Application must be made annually and is available from ISAC. Access more information about ING and the online application.
Questions? Contact the ISAC Special Awards Unit at 800-899-4722 or Harper College's One Stop at 847-925-6710.
The MIA/POW Scholarship is available to dependents of Illinois veterans who are/were prisoners of war, declared missing in action, deceased, or have 100% service connected disability.
- Full payment of tuition at any state supported Illinois institution of higher learning.
- Renewable up to four calendar years of full-time enrollment including summer term (120 points).
You may request more eligibility information or an application from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by calling 217-782-3564.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.