I have some good news to report! The Post-9/11 GI Bill has finally come through. Last week I received a check for my housing allowance and books. The VA also gave NYU a check for $18,451 for this semester’s tuition. NYU kicked in the remaining $561 because they elected to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Certification isn’t automatic, so I need to do all this again next semester, but I’ve heard it gets easier. It definitely makes my leg hurt a little less knowing the government is paying for my education. Funny how that works.
One year ago this week, I rushed to Bunker Hill Community College, in a last minute attempt to register for Fall classes. I’d finally decided on a new career to pursue.
After graduating from Emerson College in 2003, I distinctly remember saying on many occasions, that I would never go back to school. From my first meeting with the Marine recruiters in February ’05, I had planned on a career in the Marine Corps, up until I realized that dream was impossible. For months I struggled with the decision of which direction I wanted my life to go. Finally, in August of last year, I made my decision: I am going to be a nurse.
Since I didn’t take a single math or science course in my 4 years at Emerson (other than Psychology), I had to take quite a few prerequisites before I could work towards a Bachelor of Science degree. I started off with General Biology, Statistics, and College Algebra. Spring of this past year I took Anatomy & Physiology I, Chemistry, and Microbiology. Finally this summer, I took Anatomy & Physiology II, Food & Nutrition, and Psychology of Human Growth & Development.
I was accepted into New York University’s 15-month Accelerated Nursing Program, and this past June I moved to New York City. This is why I was so excited about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which should cover almost all of my tuition at NYU.
I start classes in less than two weeks. I’m a little nervous, but am mostly excited about starting this next chapter of my life. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in a year from Christmas.
Back on July 2nd, I applied for education benefits from the VA. My application was received by the Buffalo New York processing office on July 13th, and I was told it would take about 4-6 weeks to get a response. Sure enough, 6 weeks after they received my application, I got a letter from the VA. It stated:
You’re entitled to receive 100% of the benefits payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program for training offered by an institution of higher education. We determined this percentage based on your length of creditable active duty service.
Awesome! With the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, you are awarded education benefits based on your length of active duty or reserve service. You will be given:
- Cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher education (list of states and max tuition)
- Monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents, in the same zip code as your school (look up your zipcode)
- Yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1000 per year
To calculate how much you can be awarded, check out the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits calculator. For those who want to know more about the eligibility requirements, see the VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill’s website at gibill.va.gov.