As a veteran, you may be eligible for both state and federal education benefits, which can be combined to cover the cost of your college expenses. Below you will find detailed information about state education benefits and general information about federal education benefits.

Who is eligible for tuition waivers at Massachusetts state colleges and universities?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers a "categorical tuition waiver" to all veterans and active duty servicemembers, as defined in the Introduction above, who are permanent and legal residents of Massachusetts. This waiver can be used for any state-supported degree or certificate program at the University of Massachusetts or at any Massachusetts state or community college campus. Please note that this waiver covers only tuition, not fees. Unlike some federal benefits, this waiver has no expiration date.

  • To apply, contact the financial aid office at the institution you are attending or plan to attend for application requirements and deadlines.
  • For additional information you can contact the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance at (617) 727-9420 or the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education at (617) 994-6914.

I'm a member of the Massachusetts National Guard. What educational assistance programs are available to me?

If you are an actively-drilling soldier or airman of the Massachusetts National Guard, you are eligible for a 100% tuition and fee waiver. This waiver can be used for any state-supported degree or certificate program at the University of Massachusetts or at any Massachusetts state or community college campus. Additionally, the National Guard provides a federal tuition assistance program for any accredited college, university, vocational, technical, or trade school.

What is the Montgomery GI Bill?

The Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30 of Title 38, U.S. Code) can be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship, on-the-job training, correspondence schools, as well as licensing and certification exams. This benefit can be used to pay for school and/or training if you elected to contribute a portion of your military pay toward the GI Bill program. Whether you are a qualified member of the Selected Reserve, an activated Reservist, or active duty personnel will determine which GI Bill program you are entitled to use. Generally, benefits are payable for 10 years following your release from active duty. Those who served after September 11, 2001 may be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (see next question for a description).

  • For federal GI Bill benefit eligibility, application, and payment information, visit www.gibill.va.gov or call (888) 442-4551.
  • For information on approved education programs, licensing and certification exams, and on-the-job training programs, contact Massachusetts Department of Higher Education at (617) 994-6914.
  • For information on apprenticeship programs, call the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, Division of Apprentice Training at (617) 626-5409.

What is the "new" Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 amends Title 38, United States Code to include a new Chapter 33. This new chapter provides increased benefits for veterans pursuing an approved education program at an approved degree-granting institution (i.e. a college or university).

To be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must have received an honorable discharge; and served at least 90 aggregate days on or after September 11, 2001; or been discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 continuous days.

Based upon your length of service, you are entitled to receive a percentage of the following:

  • The cost of tuition and fees up to the highest in-state undergraduate rate (to be paid directly to the college or university).
  • A monthly housing allowance equal to the Department of Defense (DoD) E-5 with dependents based on the zip code of the college/university (to be paid directly to you).
  • A book stipend of $41.67 per credit of up to 24 credits or $1,000 per academic year (to be paid directly to you).

The length of your active duty service will determine your maximum benefit:

Service Requirements
(after 9/10/01 serve an aggregate of)

% of Maximum Benefit Payable

36 months

100

30 continuous days
(must be discharged with a disability)

100

30 months, but less than 36 months

90

24 months, but less than 30 months

80

18 months, but less than 24 months

70

12 months, but less than 18 months

60

6 months, but less than 12 months

50

90 days, but less than 6 months

40

How is the Post-9/11 GI Bill different?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) includes several other provisions that make it more flexible than Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) in meeting the needs of today's servicemembers. Other items included in the Post-9/11 GI Bill are:

  • Eligibility timeframe extended from 10 to 15 years;
  • No $1,200 contribution required to participate in the benefit; and
  • Provision to transfer benefits to spouse or dependents.

Veterans who are currently using GI Bill benefits and those who have paid into Chapter 30 may also qualify for Chapter 33. The decision to opt into Chapter 33 is irrevocable. Because the Post-9/11 GI Bill can only be used at a degree-granting institution and there are many tiers of eligibility, you are strongly encouraged to discuss your benefits under each chapter before electing into the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

  • To speak to a VA Representative about electing to use Chapter 33 call (888) 442-4551.

How do I transfer my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to my dependents?

If you have served in the Armed Forces for at least six years you may transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse. After ten years of service, you may also transfer these benefits to your children. If you transfer benefits you may be required to serve up to an additional four years. The transfer must be approved by the Department of Defense before you separate from active duty or the Guard/Reserves. Follow these steps to transfer benefits:

  1. Ensure your dependent is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and obtain an approved Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) for your dependent. For more information, visit the TEB website at www.defense.gov/home/features/2009/0409_gibill.
  2. Once the TEB is approved, your dependent must apply to the VA for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. For more information visit www.gibill.va.gov. Before the dependent can use benefits, he or she must be enrolled in an approved program at an approved college or university.

Can GI Bill benefits be combined with other educational assistance?

Yes. Veterans' work study, need-based financial aid, student loans, and scholarships as well as tuition and/or fee waivers can be combined with your GI Bill.

  • For more information about veterans' work study talk to the veterans' representative at the school you plan to attend.
  • You should also contact the financial aid department to inquire about other sources of assistance and complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) form. For more information, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows degree-granting institutions to voluntarily enter into an annual agreement with the VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate rate. Institutions may contribute up to 50% of these unmet charges and the VA will match dollar-for-dollar of this amount. Only veterans who qualify for 100% of the full Chapter 33 benefit are eligible to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

  • A complete list of participating schools can be found on the GI Bill website www.gibill.va.gov.

What is Veterans Upward Bound?

Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is a pre-collegiate program that provides a unique opportunity for you to gain access to information about college and career awareness. You can choose a pathway that works best for you, ranging from GED prep to skill development to classroom instruction. VUB offers free classes and supplies to qualified veterans. Veterans' status, academic need, and other eligibility requirements must be met in order to enroll. There are two campuses with VUB programs in Massachusetts: UMass Boston and Suffolk University.

Does the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Division (VR&E) offer educational assistance?

Please see the Employment section of this guide for details about the VA's VR&E services.

(Welcome Home 3rd edition, April 2010.)

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