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How American Veterans Can Use The GI Bill Yo Study Abroad

If you joined the Navy to see the world, you know that all you saw was the sea. Now that your time in the armed forces is over, you will need to figure out what you want to do with your life. 

Whilst there is a definite need for Riflemen (and women) on the front lines of conflicts around the world, your ability to hit a target at 500 metres is of little value in civilian life – unless you want to be an Olympic shooter or a professional hunter.

As such, going university is seen as a viable option for veterans across the globe. In some cases, their governments will even pay for their education to say thank you. This is how it works in the U.S. where the government is not as evolved as the U.K.

This program is broadly called the GI Bill and it had a transformative effect on America's economy in the years following WWII as millions of veterans took advantage of the offering to get a university degree.

One thing to know about the GI Bill is that it has changed over time and part of this is the promotion of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

According to Alan Rohlfing at Military Connection, this program “allows colleges, universities, and other degree-granting schools in the United States to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”

This includes the ability for those eligible under the Post-9/11 GI Bill to study overseas. 

To do so, eligible students must enrol in a qualified university and then complete the required paperwork so that the Veteran's Administration (VA) will directly pay tuition and other fees while studying abroad.

Since you were in the military, you are no stranger to paperwork and this is no different as the process is meant to make sure that you are studying at an accredited university and that you will not have any out-of-pocket expenses whilst pursuing your degree.

Another way to study overseas and have the GI Bill pay for it is to take advantage of the study abroad program at an American college or university.

Utilising this path is in some ways simpler as you will already have set completed the required paperwork with the bursar’s office and then the paying for year or semester abroad is strictly a function of the existing relationship your home university has with the host institution.

In many ways, this option is streamlined compared to directly studying abroad. However, this doesn’t mean that it is a better option for everyone. A case in point is the fees associated with a study abroad program as most of these are not covered under the GI Bill.

This is because many of these programs have no requirement to graduate whilst overseas, as such paying for a study abroad program under the auspices of the GI Bill is a variation on its original intention.

Beyond this there are times when enrolling directly with an overseas institution is the preferred option – especially if you are pursuing a specialised or advanced degree which might not be readily available in the U.S.

However, you want to keep in mind that whilst studying overseas, the VA will only cover expenses up to the maximum tuition in the U.S.

Normally this is not an issue as university in the U.S. is by and large more expensive than anywhere else in the world there is always a slim chance that the VA allowance won’t cover everything.

Also, you want to remember that GI Bill will not cover your airfare when travelling to study overseas. Depending on the destination this could be several thousand dollars per round-trip ticket – which can be prohibitive.

The VA should compensate for other expenses such as housing, textbooks, and living expenses. Though you will want to make sure you are familiar with the reimbursement process before leaving the U.S. as the worst thing that can happen is that you are overseas and have run out of money. 

If you are eligible under the GI Bill and are thinking ofstudying overseas, then you will want to make sure that you investigate the resources available through the VA as this will your best way to pay education.

This includes making sure that your intended university covered by the program and that you have a clear understanding of your commitments under the program.

Knowledge is power and if you are an American veteran considering getting your degree outside of the U.S., then you will want to make sure you have everything in place before starting your studies.