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Details for GI Bill Eligibility

Individuals who serve a continuous period of at least three years of active duty, even though they were initially obligated to serve less, will be paid the maximum benefit. Benefits under this program generally end 10 years from the date of the veteran's last discharge or release from active duty, but some extenuating circumstances qualify for extensions. A veteran with a discharge upgraded by the military will have 10 years from the date of the upgrade. Not what your looking for? Return to Military Education Guide.

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  • Enlisted service members processing at their first duty station (i.e., basic training, direct duty) are automatically enrolled.
  • The option to disenroll must occur within the first three working days of entering active duty.
  • The DD Form 2366 (enrollment/disenrollment form) is initiated at the Military Entrance and Processing Station (MEPS), but it must be finalized after the MGIB briefing during the first duty station processing.
  • Officers are not automatically enrolled. They must enroll/disenroll prior to Officer Basic Course (OBC) (within three working days of entering active duty).
  • Individuals entering active duty for the first time (excluding active duty for training (ADT)) from the Selected Reserves are not automatically enrolled. The first duty station must ensure the individual has the opportunity to enroll/disenroll within the first three working days.
  • Disenrollment is a one-time, irrevocable decision.
  • Enrollment
  • Individual signs a statement of understanding, Department of Defense Form 2366, that they agree to a $100/month reduction in pay during first 12 months of active service
  • Monies reduced are not taxable and not refundable.
  • Monies reduced cannot be stopped or suspended

You must meet the following two requirements, no matter which category your eligibility falls under.

  • Character of discharge. To use MGIB after you're separated from active duty, your discharge must be fully honorable. Discharges "under honorable conditions" and "general" discharges don't establish eligibility for MGIB.

Important Note: A change in eligibility rules that became effective November 1, 2000. If you weren’t eligible previously with your first period of active duty, you may have a second chance by using a later period of active duty.

  • Completed High School. To use MGIB as an active duty member or after you're separated from active duty, you must obtain a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before you apply for benefits. Completing 12 hours toward a college degree before you apply for benefits also meets this requirement.

In addition to the requirements above, you must meet requirements from one of the four categories below.

If you entered active duty before July 1, 1985, skip Category 1. You may only qualify under Categories 2, 3, or 4.

CATEGORY I

  • 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 3 years, OR 2 years if that is what you first enlisted for, OR 2 years if you entered Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served 4 years ("2 by 4" Program)

CATEGORY II

  • Entered active duty before January 1, 1977
  • Served at least 1 day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85, and stayed on active duty through 6/30/88, (or 6/30/87 if you entered Selected Reserve within 1 year of leaving active duty and served 4 years)
  • On 12/31/89, you had entitlement left from Vietnam Era GI Bill

CATEGORY III

  • 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 $1200

CATEGORY IV

  • 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 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, through 7/8/97
  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1200 lump-sum contribution

The monthly benefit paid to you is based on the type of training you take, length of your service, your category, and if DOD put extra money in your MGIB Fund (called "kickers"). You usually have 10 years to use your MGIB benefits, but the time limit can be less, in some cases, and longer under certain circumstances.

You can apply by filling out VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. Call toll free 1-888-GI-BILL-1 for more information.

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