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A Guide to the Montgomery GI Bill®

A Guide to the Montgomery GI Bill®

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Last Updated April 8, 2024

The Montgomery GI Bill® assists veterans, servicemembers, and reservists through monthly benefits to help pay for college, business technical or vocational courses, distance learning, apprenticeship, licensing exams, high-tech accelerated training, or national testing programs. As explained below, as of October 2020, eligible active-duty servicemembers and veterans may receive up to $2,122 monthly for 36 months, and eligible individuals serving in the Selected Reserve may receive up to $392 monthly for 36 months.

The History of the GI Bill®

The “GI Bill of Rights” was born in 1944 when President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 into law. This law provided education benefits, loans for farms or businesses, and unemployment compensation. 

However, the 1944 Act was originally designed only for veterans, not active servicemembers. All servicemembers were granted access to the GI Bill® through the Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966, opening the door for other benefits used today.

What is the Montgomery GI Bill®?

In the mid-1980s, the Montgomery GI Bill® ushered in an opt-in program new recruits could join during basic training, in which they would agree to pay $100 monthly for eventual access to the government’s more substantial contribution toward training and education. The Montgomery GI Bill® also provided certain support to members of the Selected Reserve. As such, there are two main Montgomery GI Bill® programs: the Montgomery GI Bill®-Active-Duty program (MGIB-AD) and the Montgomery GI Bill®-Selected Reserve program (MGIB-SR).



You may be eligible for Montgomery GI Bill®-Active Duty benefits if you:

Under the first category defined by the VA (which category applies to most individuals who entered active duty after June 30, 1985), individuals must allow the first 12 months of their military pay to be reduced by $100 per month in order to be eligible for MGIB-AD benefits.

Benefits Calculation

Individuals eligible under MGIB-AD may receive up to 36 months of benefits. According to the VA, the benefit amount depends on the following:

  • Length of service;
  • Type of education or training program;
  • Your eligibility category (the VA outlines four categories for eligibility);
  • Qualification for a college fund or kicker;
  • Amount you’ve paid into the $600 Buy-Up Program (see below).

In addition, the VA determines payment amounts based on the number of classes you go to and the hours spent in those classes. For individuals who complete an enlistment of three years or more and who enroll at an institution of higher education, the VA-authorized payment rates as of October 2021 are as follows:

Training Time Monthly rate
Full time $2,122.00
¾ time $1,591.50
½ time $1,061.00
Less than ½ time more than ¼ time $1,061.00
¼ time or less $530.50

While the 36 months of benefits does not have to be used consecutively, MGIB-AD could cover up to eight semesters, or four years, of traditional academic education, totaling up to approximately $76,000 in benefits (as of October 2020).   

The VA administers MGIB-AD differently for active-duty servicemembers and veterans. For example, for individuals on active duty, payment is limited to reimbursement of tuition and fees for the training taken. In other words, the VA will reimburse servicemembers for actual tuition and expenses during active-duty, but will pay the full payment rate regardless of tuition costs once you leave active-duty.  Therefore, (a publication not affiliated with the U.S. military) cautions against using MGIB-AD benefits while on active-duty service unless tuition costs are high or if you use you “GI Bill® Top-Up” benefit.

Benefits Expiration

Individuals typically have 10 years to use their MGIB-AD benefits. However, the VA notes this may vary depending on individual circumstances.



Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard may be eligible for MGIB-SR if one of the following is accurate:

  • You have agreed to serve six years in the Selected Reserve; or
  • You are an officer in the Selected Reserve and agreed to serve six years in addition to the initial service obligation.

The VA has also published additional MGIB-SR eligibility requirements.

Benefits Calculation

Eligible individuals who enroll full-time at an institution of higher education may receive up to $397 per month for up to 36 months (as of October 2020). View the complete MGIB-SR payment rates.

Benefits Expiration

Eligible individuals typically have 14 years to use MGIB-SR benefits after the start of the first six-year obligation. However, the VA notes that the expiration date varies depending on individual circumstances.

How to Apply for Montgomery GI Bill® Benefits

To apply for MGIB-AD or MGIB-SR, one of the first things to do is complete VA Form 22-1990, the Application for VA Education Benefits. An online application is available, or you can apply by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional.

Montgomery GI Bill® FAQs

What is the $600 Buy-Up program?

Under the MGIB-AD Buy-Up program, eligible servicemembers may contribute up to an additional $600 while on active duty and then receive supplemental benefits each month. According to the VA, as of April 2020 individuals could receive up to $5,400 in additional GI Bill® benefits. So, each dollar contributed is matched by the federal government with an additional $9 in benefits. To be eligible, fill out the Montgomery GI Bill® Act of 1984 Basic Enrollment form (DD Form 2366) and provide it to your payroll or personnel office.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at

Information provided as to the availability and eligibility for military or veteran education assistance programs is for general informational use only. Benefit certification depends upon, among other things, your eligibility, enrollment status, and program of study. 

VA Benefits: Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education and Training Benefits page for more information. Also, visit the Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS) to view which programs of study or courses are currently certified.