Using Your GI Bill for Tech Education: What You Need To Know

15 Jun 2024

If you know how to use your GI bill, it could pay for your schooling, certifications, or tests, catapulting you into the tech field. Do you know what to do to make the most out of it?

Using Your GI Bill to Transition Into a Tech Career

Frankly, there’s rarely been a better time to enter the tech field. For example, information security analysts’ job outlook is growing 32% from 2022 to 2032 — one of the fastest growth rates among all professions.

Plenty of adjacent industries are also short-staffed and looking for help. Right now, the cybersecurity unemployment rate is at zero percent since over 3.4 million job openings exist. In response, tons of employers are lowering their expectations and job requirements.

Better yet, you’re likely bound to make much more than you are now. The average tech worker earned $100,615 in 2022, with compensation ranging from $56,000 at the low end to $161,400 at the high end. Depending on your rank, that’s probably a huge increase.

The GI Bill gives you the perfect opportunity to pursue a job in tech since it pays for almost everything you’ll need. Whether you want to enter cybersecurity, software development, computer engineering, or information technology, you have plenty of options.

Which Educational Programs Are Covered?

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), your GI Bill covers multiple program types:

  • Undergraduate or Graduate Degrees: Your GI Bill covers tuition, fees, books, and housing at pre-approved schools — public or private. You can also study abroad.

  • Certifications: You can get licenses and certifications covered if they’re required for work — retakes included. The VA says it’ll pay for as many tests as you want to take.

  • On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeships: Depending on your program, you can get your books paid for and receive a monthly housing allowance.

  • High-Cost High-Tech Programs: You qualify for accelerated payments — 60% of the $27,120 tuition and fees allowance — if you pursue fields like computer engineering, electronics, data science, or cybersecurity.

  • Work Study Programs: If you’re enrolled in a technical school program and working, the VA provides a number of financial benefits.

  • Non-College Degree Programs: The VA will pay up to $27,120 — the same amount as it does for college — for the net tuition and mandatory fees for special tuition programs.

The VA has a GI Bill comparison tool you can use to see which education and training institutions are approved. You can also get an estimate of how much the benefits would cover.

Tips for Aligning Education With Career Aspirations

How do you pick a school or coding boot camp that aligns with your career aspirations in tech? Here are some tips to help you figure it out.

Build Your Network

Nowadays, many people find careers through networking rather than job ads. To better align your education with your career, get close to your classmates, professors, and mentors to build your professional network early on.

Do Your Research

What degree do most professionals in your chosen field have? Are certifications required or just helpful? Watch videos, take free classes online, listen to other graduates, and browse job boards to see whether your education will align with your career.

Which GI Bill Is Right for You?

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty is for service members with at least two years of active duty and a high school diploma — or General Education Development. If you served at least 90 days after September 10, 2001, you can use the Post-9/11 GI bill.

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You might’ve heard a lot about the Veterans Technology Education Courses. The initiative was made to pair people like you with high-tech careers. Unfortunately, it ended on April 1, 2024. However, a bill set to extend it through 2028 passed the House and is headed to the Senate, so there’s hope.

How to Apply for GI Bill Benefits

How you apply for GI Bill benefits varies depending on how long you were on active duty, how you were discharged, and when your service ended. Whether it concluded before or after January 1, 2013, affects whether you have a 15-year time limit or your benefits don’t expire.

You can apply in person at your local VA office, by mail to their official processing office address, or online. You need to provide details about your service and your current contact information. You’ll probably be able to finish the application pretty quickly.

According to the VA, your application will take about 30 days to process. When you get approved, they’ll contact you. You then show your official approval letter to the school, company, or training professional you want to work with and kickstart the application process there.

It’s Time to Start a New Life Chapter

Whether you’re finished with active duty or are in the reserves, getting a free ride to college, an apprenticeship or a vocational school could be life-changing. Make the most of this opportunity by researching your options and working hard to achieve your goals.