Education and Training for Veterans

The Basics

Education and training make it easier to find a good job, make more money, and build a satisfying career. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several programs that help veterans, service members, and their family members decide on and reach their training and educational goals.

Here are some of the most common types of educational programs you can choose from:

  • Trade schools (typically privately owned) generally offer hands-on skills training and certification for many different types of jobs, from auto mechanic, welder, or electrician, to hairdresser, baker, paralegal, massage therapist, and many more.
  • Technical schools (sometimes called technical colleges, and usually privately owned) typically combine on-the-job training with classroom learning for a one-year certificate or a two-year associate degree in a variety of fields, like computer science, graphic design, or nursing.
  • Community colleges (generally publicly owned) offer trade certificate programs that can take six months to two years to complete, or two-year associate degrees either in a general field (like business administration or health science) or a specific field (like dental hygienist, aircraft mechanics, or software development).
  • Colleges or universities (public or private) typically award four- or five-year bachelor’s degrees in a specific field, like teaching or accounting. They may also offer master’s degrees that take about two years to complete and allow advanced study in a specific area, and some offer professional degrees to become licensed in fields like medicine or law.

There are programs that might help pay for your education based on the option you choose. This article gives you basic information about some of the VA programs that can help you get the education or training you want:

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits help you pay for school or job training for up to 36 months if you started your military service on or after September 11, 2001 and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability. Learn more about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • The Montgomery GI Bill pays for education and training through two programs, MGIB-AD for veterans who served at least two years on active duty and MGIB-SR for those serving in the Selected Reserve. Requirements vary. Learn more about the Montgomery GI Bill.
  • Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG or Chapter 36, and previously called Education and Career Counseling) provides educational and career counseling for service members with six months or less until they are discharged, veterans who were discharged within the last 12 months, and veterans or their dependents who are already getting or are eligible for VA educational benefits. Learn more about PCPG.

You can get help picking the right education program for you by working with a trained professional at a veterans service organization (VSO). Search for an accredited representative.

Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

Help with education or training is also available through the VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program (also called Chapter 13). It offers personalized counseling and support for up to 48 months to help you prepare for, find, and keep employment. You can get VR&E benefits if you are a service member or veteran with a service-connected disability that makes it hard for you to get or keep a job. If you are unable to work right now, VR&E also offers services to help you live independently.

Note: If you qualify for more than one VA education benefit, you usually have to choose which one you want to use, and you can’t change your mind. The exception is VR&E, which you may be able to get in addition to another VA education benefit. However, you need to use your VR&E benefits first or you could lose some of your months of eligibility.

Learn more about it in DB101’s VR&E article.

Tax Tip

If you are a veteran and get VA education benefits, you do not have to pay federal income taxes on any of the payments you get for education or training, including the monthly allowance (called subsistence). This is only true for VA benefits for educational costs. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) explains the Tax Exclusion for Veterans Education Benefits.