What's the Best Way to Use the G.I. Bill?

A Marine in our readership responds to a piece that Catherine Morris just did for us on the evolution of the well-known veterans benefit:

I can attest that the G.I. Bill is possibly one of, if not the best, entitlement that service members receive, specifically the post-9/11 GI Bill [championed by Jim Webb, seen above in 2008]. Unfortunately it is often under utilized, and when it is utilized, it’s often squandered on community colleges or “local” expensive private liberal arts schools. When counseling my Marines prior to their EAS [End of Active Service], I advise them to find a relatively large state school and enroll full time.

Despite the advice, many service members return to their small town and enroll in a community college and squander the BAH [Basic Allowance for Housing] and tuition on classes that do not provide a quality ROI [return on investment]. If you’re an EASing service member, your best chance of success is to enroll in a state university as a full-time student, work on the side, and enjoy your experience as a college student. You earned it.

Another reader says “it would also be good to see more support for honorably-discharged military personnel to find part-time jobs while attending school”:

I also would like to see more opportunities for training in the military (not in replacement of their own training, but additional) to provide certification in trades which can be used in the private sector (e.g. IT certifications, electrical and engineering certifications, etc). While techs in the military are well trained for the military's purposes, it would be nice to hire some civilian trainers to also get their enlisted men ready for the job market when they return.

The Marine replies:

There is a system for that. It is a DD-295 [pdf]. It gives you civilian college credit for training one receives in the service. Some of it is field specific, while other courses fulfill general studies credits. Some jobs require civilian certificates as well.

Another former service member says the old Montgomery G.I. Bill “helped change my life”:

People who cry there are no opportunities in life really mean “no one is handing me what I want.” Thank you, thank you, and thank you for the chance to earn something that altered my path in life.

Have an experience with the G.I. Bill you think would be helpful to others? Drop me an email.