Like most government programs, the Post-9-11 GI Bill has stipulations that can make it difficult to determine how much and exactly what you are eligible for.
A new online tool vows to make that that process easier.
Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is on the news and talk show circuit this week to introduce the GI Bill Comparison Tool, produced by Joining Forces, a national initiative by Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama to engage communities in reaching out to military families and provide them with opportunities and assistance. The announcement also highlights the organization's third anniversary.
Previously, the same information regarding the GI Bill was available, but at several different websites which veterans had to dig into to find the data.
Now, Biden said, veterans can use this one website to estimate tuition and fees, housing allowances and book stipends for each school they are interested in.
So, curious, I popped into the site to see exactly what it does. And, it does a pretty good job of compiling a lot of info. There are dropdown tabs to input your eligibility level and a dropdown menu to find your school. If it doesn't pop up, it means you cannot use your GI Bill benefits there, simple.
There is a button to indicate whether you will be strictly an online student or attend on campus and waalaa! The site posts the amount of tuition your benefit will cover, how much housing allowance you will receive per month (full time students only) and your annual book stipend.
It also indicates whether the school participates in the federal Principals of Excellence program and agrees to adhere to strict guidelines in order to receive federal funding for veteran education, the Yellow Ribbon Program in which the school covers part of the tuition costs for veterans and the number of GI Bill beneficiaries who attend.
Finally, the page provide the school's graduation rate, the default rate for students of that school and the median amount of money family's generally borrow to fund an undergraduate education at this school.
I'm not going to lie, I spent more than a few minutes putting in different schools to see where the best deals could be had. And it was a much more pleasant experience to simply type the name of the school rather than compare several open tabs on my screen. To find this same information on my own, I would have trekked and searched at least five different websites.
For military families, who typically don't have a lot of time to waste searching, I say, this site is a winner.
And considering that the Veterans Affairs Department estimates that it has distributed more than $30 billion in tuition and education-related payments to more than 1 million veterans and family members, my guess is this site, is going to provide a lot of help, to a lot of people.
Check it out at: