The Department of Veterans Affairs educational programs are a huge thing for military members, and being able to transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill makes it an even bigger benefit. While it’s great, it can also be intimidating and overwhelming. The first step is to get a Certificate of Eligibility, which also called applying to use your benefits.
This article assumes that benefits were transferred according to the required rules, including when the benefits can be transferred, and that the required service obligation was met. If you don’t know about this, the VA website is a good place to learn more.
Certificates of eligibility are applied for by the student, not the parent who transferred the benefits. Applications require that the student create a login to access the VA system, using their own information, though they will also need to know information for the person who transferred the benefits.
Use The VA GI Bill Website
Go to the VA’s How to apply for the GI Bill and related benefits page and click on the green “Find your education benefits form” button.
That will open a series of questions on the same webpage. Answer each question as it is is presented.
Once you have finished answering the questions, click the green Apply Now button. It will take you to a page that starts like this:
Click on the blue button that says “Sign in to start your application.” A new window will pop-up (you may need to disabled any pop-up blockers.) It will look like this:
You’ll have to either establish one of these forms of login, or figure out what your password is, or reset your password if it has expired. You may need your military ID, so have that handy. Depending on what credentials you already have established, the authentication process may include a soft credit pull to verify your identity.
Filling Out The Actual Application
Once you’re successfully logged in, the page will now look like this:
The application itself is 8 pages long. You will need to know your sponsor’s information, your school’s information, and the information for the bank account you want to use for housing allowance and books payments.
Once you complete the application, you will receive a confirmation page that looks like this:
The VA usually reviews applications within 30 days, and then they’ll send you a Certificate of Eligibility by mail. If they have questions, or your application is denied, that will also happen by mail.
What To Do With The Certificate of Eligibility
Once you receive your Certificate of Eligibility, make a copy and then give it to the VA Certifying Official at your school. The Certifying Official usually works in the Financial Aid Office, or the Financial Aid Office will know where to find them. The Certifying Official will help you through the next steps.
The process to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility isn’t terribly hard, and will take less than 1/2 an hour if you have login credentials already established. Plan for a longer time if you need to set up those credentials. It’s the first step to using those GI Bill benefits, and it does take time to get the paperwork back, so go ahead and do it now!
More places to learn about the GI Bill and paying for college: