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The GI Bill: Getting Started

4 Easy Steps to getting your benefits.
If you haven't used your benefits yet, you may be a put off by the application process. Fear not - if you follow the 4 easy steps, you'll find that the process is simple and painless.

The application process for receiving your monthly GI Bill benefits is much simpler than you may think. Depending on the school you are applying to, the process could take you 4 steps, or less!

Step One
Find and apply to a college or university that is approved for VA training or education. If you are not clear on this point, the VA will inform you and the school or company about the requirements.

Note: Most regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities are approved by the VA.

Step Two
Complete VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. Your school's registrar's office usually has copies of the form on hand.

If you are active duty you will need to have your Education Service Officer or Command representative complete and sign Section II of the VA Form 22-1990.

*In addition you should speak to a counselor in your Voluntary Education Services Office to determine if you are eligible to participate in the GI-Bill Buy-up program before you start using your GI Bill. It could be worth up to an extra $5,400 in benefits.

If you are a Veteran you will need to include a copy of your DD 214 Discharge Papers.

If you are a member of the Selective Reserve you may need to include a copy of DD Form 2384-1, Notice of Basic Eligibility which was given to you by your unit when you became eligible for the MGIB-SR.

Step Three
In most cases the school will send your application along with their paperwork to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the State or area where you will train. This will expedite the process. However if you have not found a school yet, you can still apply for your VA Eligibility Determination by mailing your completed VA Form 22-1990 to your VA Regional Office.

Scroll below to find the address for your VA Regional Office.

Within 4-8 weeks you should receive a declaration of eligibility and a letter explaning your VA GI Bill benefits. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon to get a letter from the VA requesting more information. You will have to answer the VAs requests to be determined eligible and complete the process.

Step Four
Once you have begun to receive your benefit checks (Direct Deposit) you will have to complete the VAs Web Automated Verification of Eligibility (WAVE) each month to continue to recieve your monthly benefits payments.

The WAVE is a simple process that requires you to either log-on to the VA WAVE website or call their toll-free number at 1-888-GIBILL-1. It only takes a couple of minutes, but you will not get your monthly payment until you do.

These four simple steps will lead to over $35,000 in education benefits -- the ones you paid for! It's well worth the effort, so don't wait until it is too late, get started today!

Getting Started
If you haven't found a "Military Friendly" school that is VA-approved, then the best way to get started is Military.com's "School Finder", which will help you get information from fully accredited "military friendly" colleges and universities that are VA-approved and experienced with the VA process.

Where Should You Send Your Application?
One of the following VA regional offices (see tables below) has jurisdiction over your claim.

** Training Outside the 50 States or the District of Columbia

  • If you're training in Puerto Rico or the U. S. Virgin Islands, your claim will be handled by the Atlanta Regional Office (in Decatur, Georgia).
  • If you're training in the Republic of the Phillippines, American Samoa, Guam, Midway, Wake Island, any of the islands in the Federated States of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau, your claim will be handled by the Muskogee Regional Office.
  • If you're training in any other foreign country or area, your claim will be handled by the Buffalo Regional Office.

EASTERN REGION
Buffalo, NY

Mail forms to:
VA Regional Office
PO Box 4616
Buffalo, NY
14240-4616

Eastern Region includes:
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Foreign Schools

SOUTHERN REGION
Decatur, GA

Mail forms to:
VA Regional Office
P.O. Box 100022
Decatur, GA
30031-7022

Southern Region includes:
Alabama
Florida
Georgia
Mississippi
North Carolina
Puerto Rico
South Carolina
Tennessee

CENTRAL REGION
St. Louis, MO

Mail forms to:
VA Regional Office
PO Box 66830
St. Louis, MO
63166-6830

Central Region includes:
Colorado
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
North Dakota
South Dakota
Wisconsin
Wyoming

WESTERN REGION
Muskogee, OK

Mail forms to:
VA Regional Office
PO Box 8888
Muskogee, OK
74402-8888

Western Region includes:
Alaska
Arkansas
Arizona
California
Hawaii
Idaho
Louisiana
New Mexico
Nevada
Oklahoma
Oregon
Philippines
Texas
Utah
Washington

   
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