Marines Magazine

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Uncle Sam pays for your college

Education is an important element in today’s military, and the Marine Corps is doing what it can to send its active and veteran members to school.

As a Marine, deciding on a plan to take college classes depends on whether you are active duty, reserve or prior service, along with the type of courses you want to attend such as an online program or at a campus.

Service members have two types of GI bills to choose from. Although most Marines applied for the Montgomery GI Bill when they enlisted, they are permitted to switch if the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which may better suit their needs, said Susan McIntosh, an education services officer at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

McIntosh said that one type of bill isn’t necessarily better than the other but choosing one depends on when, where and how service members use it. If students use the bills correctly, they won’t have to pay a penny for a college degree.

“The GI bills are an awesome benefit. They pay the highest undergraduate in-state tuition and fees in the state the service member is attending college, plus basic allowance for housing for an E-5 with dependents,” said McIntosh, referring to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The bill will also pay up to $1,000 a month for books.

Professor John Nolan answers questions during an education brief given to Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The Montgomery GI Bill would be a better plan for part-time students because the money goes straight to the service member, McIntosh said. If the service member is taking classes that cost less than $1,368 a semester, they will be able to keep the difference.

Although switching bills is a good option, service members must be careful when they make the change, she added. Once a service member converts from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, they can’t shift back.

“My recommendation is to go to a Lifelong Learning Education Center before making the switch and talk with a counselor,” McIntosh said. This way, members are not making an uneducated decision that they may regret later.

Education and career specialists can help Marines with just about anything concerning the benefits that can be used for school. The specialists make the benefit selection quick and painless.

“It’s easy to make the switch,” said Marine veteran Irma Fernandez, supply tech at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. “I just filled out the application and sent it to the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

In order to get the full benefits of the bills, service members must serve at least 36 consecutive months of active duty. Also, to get BAH, service members must be attending at least one class in a classroom, said retired Master Sgt. Decarlous Reid. Reid is currently using the Post 9/11 GI Bill to obtain a college degree.

To find more information on the GI Bill and determine who is eligible for benefits, visit http://www.gibill.va.gov/

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  • Marine Mom

    But if you are reserves only ?????? nothing.??????  many Marines wanted active duty but due to the economy and lack of jobs there were only reserve spots……and now they have ????  nothing, no opportunities……any suggestions?

  • Kjhadley88

    but its only about $600

  • Marine

    You are an idiot for writig something like this on this forum.  Get educated.  Your post doesn’t make any sense.

  • Notredamermyers

    To Whom It may concern:  My son Vernon M Bourbon was in the Marine Reserves back in 1996-2001, I’m needing his discharge papers, I believe they are called DD-214 forms. Could you please contact me in regards to this matter, my email address is

  • Crypto Jones

    The article is incorrect. The VA now pays BAH even for distance learners.

  • DRGloy

    As a reservist myself you need to the active duty time in and yes, switch to the Post 9/11. After 3 years and 9months of active duty time I now have 90% of the true 100% percent so dont cry if you didnt put the time in to make it worth your while. The
    Montgomery GI Bill  is worthless on its own so rack up the time and go get some oversea action and switch

  • Rssmorec3

    You must have not done the proper research in order to get your. College money

  • Daniel

    Key words: Reservist and no deployments.
    The community college near Baltimore is $173 per credit hour. Nine months of school a year is $1,800 for you for only working one weekend a month, two weeks a year. Everyone has to budget, even for education. 

  • Mrjenkins111

    why should a resevervist with no deployments rate the same thing as marine who are in the fight everyday?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Stewart/1152952248 Doug Stewart

    Absolutely without a doubt one of the best benefits the military provides their soldiers. Many of my friends are going to school for little or nothing thanks to the military, and will better serve our country as engineers and translators. Plus employers value the experience service provides highly.

  • X0pimpdaddytoy0x

    That’s BULLSHIT. The Marine Corps doesn’t pay for college if your a simple reservist with no deployments. At most they give you $200 a month after jumping through hoops and we all know a single college credit is around $800. At that rate I’d be in school for life just for a bachelors degree.