Veterans Education Benefits: Where to Go and What to Take
The decision has been made and the paperwork submitted. It's time to hang up your BDU's and boots and replace them with sneakers and a book bag. You have decided to leave the Army and return to school to take advantage of the educational benefits the recruiter promised you. But, before you run out and fork over big bucks for tuition, there are some important questions to consider.
What Do You Want To Do?
Once the decision is made, you then need to look at the education options available to you. If you are considering a certificate of licensing program, then consider technical schools and community/junior colleges (both residence and correspondence). If you prefer a degree program, you need to consider public and private two- and four-year institutions. Regardless of what type of school you choose, make sure the school and the program are both approved for VA benefits. The school can verify this, or you can call the nearest Department of Veterans Affairs regional office. This is critical, since you cannot receive VA educational benefits if you choose a school or a program that is not approved.
Before You Leave The Army
It's important that any corrections be made before your discharge. It's a very time-consuming and complicated process to try to have your DD214 corrected once you are out. Also, remember to take your DD214 to a Clerk of a Circuit Court or local records office for recording. They'll keep a record copy in case your copy is ever destroyed, and they'll make certified copies for you. Never mail out the original DD214.
Where can you get copies of your military records?
Their web site is: National Personnel Records Center
Apply For School
While it is difficult to anticipate every requirement at every school, the following is a list of information and items which are commonly required when applying for admission:
Apply For VA Benefits
To actually start receiving VA benefits, the school must certify your enrollment to the VA, and you may be required to verify your attendance. The veterans coordinator can provide you with more specific guidance. In general, your first VA check will arrive about eight to twelve weeks after classes begin. In some cases you can request payment in advance (paid at registration); check with your school to see if this is available. Please note that you must request advance payment at least sixty (60) days before classes begin.
In closing, you are about to make one of the most important and rewarding decision of your life. You should carefully decide about your career and the school you attend. The Education Services Office, as well as your prospective schools, can assist you in these decisions. You will need to make sure your military records correctly reflect your eligibility for VA benefits. Finally, when you apply to the school for your VA benefits, make sure you have all the necessary information and documents. If you have any questions, contact the Department of Veterans or the veterans coordinator at your selected school. Good luck.
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