You have 10 yrs to use Montgomery GI Bill benefits and 15 yrs to use Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits the moment you separate from the military.
The moment these years are gone, your eligibility to go to school under these programs is gone. The government will not extend any time for any reason, because you failed to take advantage of GI BIll Benefits. For many, you will separate from the military and have some tough choices to make such as do you work full time right away, or attend school full time or maybe do both. The two biggest choices you will have to make and will have the biggest impact on your life as a civilian will be how to earn a living and whether or not to further your education.
Here is why using your GI Bill benefits makes sense:
A degree/vocational training/certification/apprenticeship will open new doors
Most jobs these days look for some type of college education. You will miss out on many job opportunities simply because you do not meet the minimum education requirements. Be sure to check out this article for further information on Apprenticeships.
Education can make a big difference when it comes to salary. The higher the education the more you will earn. Take a look at this Pew Research article to get a better idea.
Helps to have in a time of crisis
What once was may not be in the field you work in today. Today you may not need a degree for the field you work in, but tomorrow that could all change. If you were to get laid off, you could find yourself struggling to get back in the field you worked in for so long with no degree, because tomorrow, they now require it.
A job posting doesn’t require education, although having some higher education could mean the difference to getting the job over other candidates. In today’s job market, just having the minimum qualifications may not be enough in a very competitive job market.
Why waste it
Ask your friends who didn’t serve and aren’t receiving this amount of money for school and see what they tell you if you decide to not use your GI Bill benefits. This is a huge opportunity to get an education and not have a massive school loan to pay back like so many college students. On top of that, you will also be bringing in a nice amount of money from BAH each month as well, so again why would you waste this.
** Don’t forget, you can collect your GI Bill benefits while conducting OJT. Check out Veterans Affairs for further info. **
Some of you will separate and have great opportunities working for a big company or working for your families business. Attending school right away may not be necessary, but I will be the first to tell you that although today you may have a great job, you may need to fall back on a degree if you find yourself unemployed at any point in life. Having a great job at the moment and never going to school for a degree could put you in a very difficult position later in life if you were to be laid off. In conclusion, you don’t want to be that veteran who regrets letting time lapse on thousands of dollars for education. Make use of your GI Bill monies and give yourself a great start to your civilian life by furthering your education.