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Four Things You Need To Know About The GI Bill And Flight Training
By Kyle Garrett
If you've served on active duty in the US Military, you may be eligible for reimbursement of some or all of your flight training costs under the GI Bill. While you may still have to pay some costs out of pocket, the GI Bill is a great way to help pay for your flight training. The only catch is, with the addition of new benefits for some veterans the process has gotten a little more complex. Here are four things you need to know about using the GI Bill and flight training:
1 - What funding options are available to me?
There are two sources of funding that, depending on your eligibility, will cover some or all of your flight training costs: the Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33). While both are options, not all veterans qualify for both and each program is different. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, veterans are usually reimbursed for 60% of their flight training costs. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which has more limited qualifications, veterans are reimbursed for 100% of their training up to $10,000 per academic year.
2 - What training is eligible for reimbursement?
In order to use your benefits under either program, you must take an approved course at an approved school. To find an approved school, you can use the Weams Institution Search on the GI Bill website. To locate flight schools, you must select Flight under program type. In order to establish what courses are eligible for reimbursement, contact the VA representative at an approved school. The private pilot course is not covered, but in general Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot, Flight Instructor and ATP courses are eligible depending on the institutional approval.
3 - How do I qualify?
Before you are eligible for reimbursement, you must obtain a Private Pilot Certificate and at least a Second Class Medical Certificate. Then, you can enroll in an approved school's training programs and apply for reimbursements. In order to continue receiving your benefits, you will need to complete a minimum of 5 hours of instruction every 30 days and at least 15 hours every 90 days. Exceptions to the attendance requirements include weather, illness and a few other extenuating circumstances. The school must file a report regarding your attendance with the VA every month in order for you to receive your reimbursements. Unfortunately, if you do not meet the monthly and quarterly requirements and no suitable exceptions are documented, your benefits will stop and you must reapply.
4 - What is covered?
Depending on which program you were eligible for, you will receive reimbursement for anywhere from 60% to 100% of your training costs. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you are limited to $10,000 per academic year, but the program covers 100% of your training costs. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, you will receive reimbursement for about 60% of your costs up to the maximum approved hours for a given course under Part 141 of the FARs. Unfortunately, books, medical exams, and other materials (such as flight computers) are not eligible for reimbursement. Additionally, written exams and practical exams are not eligible unless you submit a request to the VA.
For more information and to verify your eligibility, please visit the GI Bill website (http://www.gibill.va.gov) or call the Veterans Administration at: 1-888-442-4551.
For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center.