So, you’ve decided you want to go back to school or attend a training program. Now you have to wade through all of the VA’s educational benefits options and acronyms. If this process confuses you, then don’t worry. This post will introduce five popular military educational programs–the GI Bill®, VET TEC, VRRAP, VR&E, and SkillBridge–and explain what they fund, how to qualify, and how to apply for them.
1. GI BILL®
The GI Bill is the most well known VA Educational Benefit. It can be used on more traditional college or university degrees as well as non-accredited training or certificate programs. The GI Bill covers only in-person instruction for non-accredited programs. So, if you choose to attend an out-of-state training program, you will need to move for it.
If you are an active duty Servicemember, a Veteran who served at least 90 days after September 11, 2001, or the spouse or dependent of one of the above, then you may be eligible to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Depending on how long you served, your full tuition costs or a percentage of them will be covered. GI Bill benefits may also include a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) stipend and up to one thousand dollars of necessary books or supplies.
2. VET TEC
Veteran Employment through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) is another option for Veterans and active duty Servicemembers with at least one day left on their GI Bill. Spouses and dependents are not eligible for VET TEC, even if they were given their Servicemember’s GI Bill benefits.
The VET TEC program funds Veterans and Servicemembers who want to attend a high-demand tech training program and start meaningful employment in the field soon after. Although the program requires participants to have remaining GI Bill funding, it will not use any of that time. A student can start a program with VET TEC, and all remaining GI Bill will still be there after completing the program.
VET TEC also incentivizes VA-approved training providers by holding full tuition payments until after the participant graduates and is gainfully employed in the technology field.
The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) VA program pays for Veterans who are unemployed from the Covid-19 pandemic to receive education and training for high-demand career paths. Although VRRAP is a temporary program that will stop accepting applications after December 11, 2022, accepted participants will continue receiving benefits into 2023.
VRRAP covers up to 12 months of tuition and fees for an associate’s degree or non-college degrees and certificate programs. The program will also provide a housing allowance based on the Post 9/11 GI Bill’s BAH rates.
To qualify for VRRAP, you must be a Veteran who is ineligible for GI Bill benefits or other education assistance programs. Like with VET TEC, you must apply for VRRAP on the VA’s website.
If you have a service-connected disability that limits your ability to work, you may qualify for Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E), formerly called Voc Rehab. VR&E offers funding for education, training, and apprenticeship programs to Veterans and Servicemembers with documented service-connected disabilities.
To qualify, Veterans must have at least a 10 percent disability rating, and active duty Servicemembers must have at least a 20 percent pre-discharge disability rating.
If you already have your VA disability rating, you can apply for VR&E benefits on the VA website.
Although the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program does not provide funding, it is still a fantastic opportunity for transitioning Servicemembers to receive civilian job training during their last 180 days in the military.
Many SkillBridge-approved training providers will accept the GI Bill or VET TEC. Some, like Code Platoon, even offer scholarships for SkillBridge participants. The application process for SkillBridge is complicated, but we have resources to simplify the process on our SkillBridge page.
If you have questions or need help identifying the best option for you, our recruitment team is here to help. Send me a message or schedule a phone conversation by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Drobny is a former Airborne Infantryman, PSYOP Team Chief, political consultant, professional mil blogger, and is Code Platoon’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Manager. He holds a BA and MA in history, as well as a Masters of Science in organizational psychology. He is married with four children who keep him more than slightly busy, and is passionate about helping Veterans find their paths in life and develop the skills needed to pursue their goals.