Thursday, January 10, 2008

GI Bill

You know those military commercials that promise you all that stuff and a bag of chips? In other words they say "they'll offer you the world?" Ah, if people only knew. For instance, "they'll pay for college." Now, each branch is different and it depends on when you enlist, but let me fill you in on David's Marine Corps situation. Please bear with me, as it's been a few years and I may get some of the "facts" wrong, but you'll get the jist of it.

When he enlisted he signed up for the GI Bill. Basically how it works is that YOU pay into in for about a year or two, then after that they start putting money in. It's not like, "Okay, here's your money," and it's handed over. It's kind of like you're putting it in a savings or something, which you can go to later. While you're active duty you can go to school without dipping into your GI Bill. You pay for your classes, they reimburse you, but you must pay for all of your books. David attempted this and it didn't go all that well. Mostly because it was online classes. He's the type that actually needs to walk into a classroom, sit down, and learn. In addition, having me already in school, our finances got knocked off when we had to pay for the books. Books aren't cheap ya know, and I'm a book bargain hunter!

While I've been in school we've continually checked to see if I could use the GI Bill. Nope, only the active duty person that set up the account can use it. I get the point, but this is something that I hope they change in the future. You might as well let someone use it. Now that he's off of active duty we both believe David should use the GI Bill in some way. Of course to further his education, but also it's your money sitting, you better use it. In addition, you only have approximately 10 years to use it. We're at 3 years and counting already. The problem is this....actually there are problems. The monetary monthly amount for the GI Bill covers basically your schooling needs, not your living needs. So it's not like you can stop working and go to school. Of course he could do night classes, but in all honesty I think he'd do best just to go to school full-time. Obviously that's not an option. We require his income to pay bills, etc. Throughout his inactive duty time we've looked into all of our options. We've even looked into the possibility of joining the reserves. They'd pay for school and then we'd hopefully use the GI Bill for living expenses. But then we knocked some sense into ourselves. Go back into the military? Are we crazy?! After the experience(s) he had. Heck nah.

So that leads us to now. We thought that maybe David could take night classes at one of the Adult Night Education places in the area. You know, take trade classes in plumbing, electrical work, etc. More than likely that's the direction his career is going and he likes it, so why not go that route? The past 24 hours we've been looking into option and have found a class for David to take to receive a certification. However, in doing some research, since this is a certification/license the GI Bill will pay for the test you must take (up to $2000 and they'll even pay if you fail) but it will not cover the expenses in earning the certification/license. We're waiting from a call from the Veterans Affairs official. But as of now it sounds like we're at square one. Also, classes you want to use the GI Bill for must be authorized by the VA first, meaning not everything is covered. So with that being said, most anything he's interested in probably won't be covered. And after shelling out $1500 last week for my upcoming semester of school, putting out another $500+ for him won't be an option at this time. It's just so frustrating. I'm "furthering" myself but he can't since we don't have the extra money. After I'm done with school, in August, he could then start. Basically we'd be doing what we do for me, paying everything out of pocket. (My school doesn't rate for financial aid since it's an online course. My only option is to pay it all up front or attempt to take a personal loan.....we put as much money away at each paycheck and pay everything up front. It's real tough) But still, that leaves us with his GI Bill sitting there and he can't use it?! I guess you can't believe everything the military says. But we already learned that long ago.


Anonymous said...

so sad our military-he story we hear from everyone. promises that arent kept and outright lies that are told Its so sad, almost as sad as this war

Anonymous said...

Hey David and Heidi.
My name is Caron Myers. I'm a reporter with FOX 8/WGHP in Greensboro/High Point, NC and am currently in the process of doing a story on the downfall of the GI bill. Where do you guys live? Feel free - please - to email me back at
Thanks and I'd love to hear back from you and maybe quote your blog, if that's okay?