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How To Use the Expanded GI Bill For Flight Training
By Kyle Garrett
Since the GI Bill of Rights program became law after World War II, millions of American families have seen their lives improved thanks to the career education and opportunities offered to military members. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act, as it is officially named, has gone through several amendments and enhancements over the years. Under the most recent provisions of the GI Bill, veterans will soon be able to use the GI Bill for at least a portion of their career-oriented flight training.
Starting in October 2011, veterans who qualify for the Expanded Post-9/11 GI Bill will be allowed to use their benefits to pay tuition at a number of non-degree vocational programs, including flight training. This is the most comprehensive revision of the law as it applies to veterans' benefits since the Montgomery GI Bill of 1985 and the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. In the past, veterans were limited to using their educational benefits to earn college degrees. With the expansion of benefits, military veterans can now attend flight schools even if they enroll in a non-degree granting program. However, it's important to know that the GI Bill will not pay for primary flight training (for example, a private pilot license) but will pay for advanced ratings required to work as a pilot (like an instrument rating or commercial pilot license).
Besides the new opportunities for flight training, the GI Bill will now offer book stipends and even housing allowances for reservists and National Guard members who take online or correspondence courses.
News of the benefits expansion comes at a time when unemployment rates for veterans returning from combat are at an all-time high. Female veterans are among the most affected. The skills and experience gained by our nation's veterans are not always easily translated into civilian jobs, especially during tough economic times. With a high number of unemployed college graduates, employers are looking to hire more technicians and skilled workers than before. The expanded Post-9/11 GI Bill is expected to produce a new generation of skilled veterans by paying for apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs.
For many veterans who already have a college degree, flight training and other aviation careers could greatly broaden their horizons. Aerospace giant Boeing estimates that more than 460,000 pilots and almost 600,000 maintenance workers will be needed to support the world's aviation demand over the next 20 years.
Under President Obama's recently announced American Jobs Act, hiring our nation's unemployed veterans is a priority. Companies can get up to $9,600 in tax credits when veterans are hired.
For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center.