How to Use the GI Bill at Excelsior University

If you’ve ever been a part of the United States armed forces, you’ve worked hard to build the commitment and dedication that will serve you well in whatever you choose to take on next. For many service members transitioning out of the military, the next mission is going back to school. That means accessing your benefits through the GI Bill®. We’ll help you understand this cornerstone of the military’s benefit package and explain how to use the GI Bill at Excelsior University to continue your education.

What Is the GI Bill?

The GI Bill is the name for the suite of benefits earned by military veterans. Updated, expanded, and revised numerous times during its 80-year history, the mission of the bill has remained constant: to provide U.S. servicemembers with educational opportunity.

Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 to Present: A Brief History

On June 22, 1944, as World War II raged on, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 into law. Millions of veterans were expected to return home to possible unemployment, a dearth of affordable housing, and limited educational options. The United States had faced a similar challenge after World War I, when a lack of adequate compensation and support for veterans resulted in disastrous social and political consequences during the years leading up to the Great Depression. This new law, also known as the GI Bill, was in large part designed and championed by the American Legion and sought to avoid repeating history with a guarantee that all veterans would be provided for.

The first GI Bill included low-interest home loans and support for disabled veterans, but its most enduring benefit has been educational. The U.S. Department of Defense reports that in 1956, when the original bill expired, around 8 million veterans had used its benefits to earn a college degree.

The GI Bill was extended several times during the Korean and Vietnam wars, with the 1980s-era Montgomery GI Bill® and the Post-9/11 GI Bill® being the most used by veterans today.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Using the GI Bill at Excelsior University

Excelsior University has a proud history of supporting veterans’ education. From the evaluation of military training for credit toward degree programs, to the resources in our Lt. Col. Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center and our dedicated military admissions counselors, we’re experts in helping veterans make the most of their education benefits and have developed this step-by-step guide for how to use the GI Bill at Excelsior.

Step 1: Identify Your GI Bill Benefits

Identifying your GI Bill benefits is the first step to making use of all they have to offer. Each version of the bill comes with its own set of qualifications based on the dates you served and the length of your service.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

If you served at least 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001, you’re eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. This version of the bill grants you 36 months of full-time education benefits up to a certain amount per academic school year. Your tuition is sent directly to the school you attend, but the bill also provides a monthly housing allowance to eligible students, as well as a stipend for books and supplies. If your service ended before January 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use your benefits, starting from your last date of separation from active service. If you left service after this date, your benefits have no expiration date. Check the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website for more information on eligibility and benefits.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty

Veterans who served at least two years of active duty prior to September 11, 2001, are eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty® (MGIB-AD). This version of the bill provides students a set monetary amount every month, based on the number of credits they take per semester, otherwise known in the military as their rate of pursuit. The benefit check goes directly to you, and you’re responsible for paying your tuition and other school fees yourself. Students typically have 10 years to take advantage of their benefits. There are four different categories of eligibility, so make sure to check the VA website to determine which applies to you.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve

If you’re a member of the National Guard or the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard Reserve, you’re eligible for benefits with the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve® (MGIB-SR). Like the MGIB-AD, it provides students a set dollar amount every month, based on your rate of pursuit, paid directly to you to use for education. The MGIB-SR, however, only applies to those with current service obligations of at least six years.

Step 2: Apply for Benefits

Visit the VA website to find the forms and information you need to officially apply for your benefits. To begin receiving your education funds, first select the school you’ll be attending or education program you want to pursue. Before starting the application process, make sure you have ready your Social Security number, bank account information, information about your educational institution, and your military history.

Step 3: Submit Your Eligibility

If you’re using the MGIB-AD, MGIB-SR, or Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, submit your certificate of eligibility and your request for VA certification to An admissions counselor from Excelsior’s Veterans Affairs team will contact you about next steps, depending on which benefit package you’re using.

Step 4: Contact Veterans Admissions with Questions

Excelsior University’s veterans counselors are ready to help. With more than 50 years serving the education needs of the military community, they’re experts in helping you navigate your benefits and will make sure you’re ready to enroll in the courses you need. If you have any questions about the benefit application process, contact Veteran Admissions by email at or by phone at 844-843-9299.

GI Bill Tips

With any government program, there are complexities and caveats. Here are a few GI Bill tips to keep in mind when navigating your benefits:

  • If you’re eligible for more than one GI Bill program, you can’t double dip. You must decide on a single benefit you want to use.
  • You can use your GI Bill benefits while still on active-duty service, but you must serve two years before doing so, and the amount you receive is less than it would be as a veteran. Certain military family members are eligible for their own benefits through the DEA program.
  • Unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are transferrable to your spouse or children, but benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill are not.
  • The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill®, expands many Post-9/11 Bill coverages and qualifications. Check the VA website for information on how your benefits may change.
  • Make sure you understand your monthly housing allowance. It differs depending on the zip code of the campus where you’ll be attending class, the amount of credits you take each month, and whether you enroll in online courses.
  • Your GI Bill Statement of Benefits will show you how much of your benefit you’ve used and how much you have left.
  • Use the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool to search schools and estimate your benefit amount.

The original signers of the GI Bill knew that a lifetime of success and opportunity starts with access to higher education. As a veteran, your service has earned you every benefit the GI Bill has to offer, and knowing how to use the GI Bill to your best advantage will help you invest in your future.

Understanding your eligibility, benefits, and the application process ensures that you can unlock the GI Bill’s full potential for your education. Trusted organizations like the VA are always available with resources and support, and Excelsior University is here to help and continue our mission of serving veteran students—today and every day.


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