Chapter 31 vs GI Bill

Which is better?

Since the inception of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, many disabled veterans have been faced with a choice; should I use the GI Bill or Voc Rehab? Recently, many Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) have been pushing disabled veterans in the direction of the GI Bill for one reason, and one reason only, disabled veterans are not treated fairly. The current stipend amounts are unfairly tilted toward veterans instead of needier disabled veterans.

What’s the difference? Around $800 per month in stipend money. Over the course of 36 months, that’s almost $30,000.

So, VRCs have been telling disabled veterans they are better off not using Chapter 31, a program designed specifically to help disabled veterans get the training or education they need to be competitive in the labor market. Seem ironic? It is.

Here is why you should care. Disabled veterans in Voc Rehab benefit in other ways that using the GI Bill cannot allow. Specifically, they get specialty care and equipment necessary for employment or training. They further receive individualized guidance in the pursuit of their vocational goals. Lastly, they receive full tuition payments. Not a big deal at a public school, but very pricey at a private university, as we’ll discuss later.

How much is that worth? It depends. The decision to use the GI Bill instead of Vocational Rehabilitation is not a clear one. In order to understand the choices, disabled veterans need to perform what economists refer to as a Cost / Benefit Analysis. It’s not just as simple as using the benefit with the higher stipend amount.

Here is the result for something like law school:

At a public school, the net benefit averages around $10,000 in the favor of the GI Bill. At a private school, the net benefit averages around $8,000 when you factor in the additional tuition and fees, in favor of Chapter 31. This all depends on the specific school and program you can get your VRC to agree to. But in sum, if you want to attend a public school, the answer is clear; use the GI Bill. If you want to attend a private college, try to get Voc Rehab to approve it.

I have more information on DisabledVeterans.Org concerning Chapter 31 Approval for Private College. Email me with any questions at [email protected]. Check NewGIBill.Org for more information on the GI Bill.

The math:

Law School Public Private
Tuition 25000 35000
Books 1500 1500
Fees 300 300
Insurance 2000 2000
Total 28800 38800

GI Bill

Law School Public Private*
Tuition 0 10000
Books 500 500
Fees 300 300
Insurance 2000 2000
Cost to You 2800 12800
Stipend (1200*9mo) 10800 10800
Net Benefit 8000 -2000

Voc Rehab

Law School Public Private*
Tuition 0 0
Books 0 0
Fees 0 0
Insurance 0 0
Cost to You 0 0
Stipend (650*9mo) 5850 5850
Net Benefit 5850 5850

*It is assumed that the private college participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and matches the top state school tuition rate. It is further assumed that the private college education is preferential to the public college.

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  1. Ben, Is it possible to use all my GI Bill entitlements, then still use Voc Rehab for further education afterwards? I am getting ready to retire from the AF, and want to finish my Bachelors degree, and would like to continue on with Law School, but won’t have enough benefits left from the GI Bill. Is possible to use Voc Rehab to finish out paying for Law school?

  2. Whats Voc Rehabs max on tuition a year?? I want to go to school at a college where the total tuition is $50,100.00. but i dont know if va will cover it.

  3. hi Ben, iam a dis vet who used 2 years of my 911 gi bill, i recently grad from community college and iam going to a public univerisity i was told to swicth over to the voc rehab because it wil cover my next two years and hopefully grad school. my main concern is since i have roughly over 13 months of my gi bill, will i still have it after i exceed my voc rehab benifits or will it get deducted , basically can i save the remainder of my gi bill for med school

  4. I Am Really Confused, I Did Not Complete Me Full Term Due to I Was Med Boarded(Honorable) Out Of the Army and I Was Assuming That Because I Did Not Do My Full Term I Couldnt Even Think About Useing Post 9/11, ANd that my Only Option Was Vocational Rehab, I recently Talked with a College Rep Who Is There appointed VA guy and He told me Sense I Served Over 180 days(perm Party) and I Term Was ended Medicaly I Could Get the Full Post 9/11 GI Bill My Question Is that Correct? Im 25 with a back of an 80 y/o lol, so Im Going For my BS in Information Tech System Security At a Trade School In AZ But after My Degree is Done There I am Goin to Transfer To ASU To Obtain My Masters In Information System Security/Computer and Programming Forensics, Now My Questions Are 1. Am I able to Receive 100% of My post 9/11 GI Bill? 1A. How Much Is Post 9/11 per Month?( Sense I will Have to Pay 425 plus food, utilities Ect) 2.How Much Money Per Month(Besides the Entire Tuition) Does Voc Rehab Pay To Live On? 2A. And Is that Amount Voc Rehab and Post 9/11 On top of My VA Disability Comp I Receive Per Month? And 03. I will Need a Laptop and Software For my Education If I Go The Voc Rehab Rout will the Program Pay For Said Supplies? And How Does that Work DO they Issue You a Laptop Or do they Give You the Money ANd u Buy It Your Self? I’m Sorry For Being So Long Winded But I Don’t Want to Get Screwed Cause With Out Going To School To Gain The Skills For Employment I am Physically Able (Back Injury) To Do I Will Be Home Less Again And Plus I Want to Better My Self And Start A Life I Can Be Proud Of, So Please To All You Vets and More Knowledgeable Men And Women Out there Please Help Me..I Dont Care How Bad I look Like Now I’m In A Real Bad Way and Im Reaching Out to Any One Who Has the Answers Or who Can Point Me To the Right Website Or Form Thank You For Reading this and I Hope All Of You Had a Wonderful Easter, PLEASE FEEL FREE To Reach Me On My Personal Email: [email protected].
    ~McCarthy, Sean Patrick~

  5. Ben, I have a question. I want to go to theology school so that I can minister to veterans. I’m not sure which way to go the Post 911 GI or the VocRehab. There are several factors. A.) I have a wife and two kids and I will be a full time student because I already have a degree so all I need is 33 credit hours to get my theology degree. B.) I will want to get my masters and hopefully my PHD and will one cover this if I use the other? What program would you recommend for me to use. Oh, and it is a State University.

  6. Ben, I have a question. I want to go to theology school so that I can minister to veterans. I’m not sure which way to go the Post 911 GI or the VocRehab. There are several factors. A.) I have a wife and two kids and I will be a full time student because I already have a degree so all I need is 33 credit hours to get my theology degree. B.) I will want to get my masters and hopefully my PHD and will one cover this if I use the other? What program would you recommend for me to use. Oh, and it is a State University.

    1. S.3447 just increased the housing allowance for veterans using Chapter 31 to the amount received by an E-5 for BAH, or around $1300. I’m not sure how the process works to opt for that; however, the stipend probably only lasts as long as you are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. After that point, it goes back down to the standard stipend amount.

  7. I am so confused on which way to go. My husband is trying to get out of the Navy in Sept of this year (2011), and I am a disabled veteran. We need money to support our 2 children while atleast one of us goes to school. So it is pretty important we make some money (stipend) while I attend school. The thing is, I only get 80% of the GI Bill because I was released from duty (honorably) before I completed my 6 year obligation. SO, I don’t know which way to go because while I realize I will receive more money per month with the GI Bill, I will also have to pay the remaining 20% of tuition that they do not cover. If I go Voc Rehab then I will only get around 800?/month but will recieve full tuition etc, correct? Can someone please give me a little guidance at the very least where to get some help? I talked to a Voc Rehab counselor last year and he was absolutely not helpful, or pleasant for that fact. Thanks for any help…

  8. I’ve had a pretty rough road with Chapter 31. First they took me through all but one class of the Oregon Transfer degree, and then switched me over to a 2 year social services program. Prior to the last term they then switched me to a private college for the last two years of my bachelors degree. During the 5 or so years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had 3 different rehab counselors. I never received full dental care (only fillings and extractions), and minimal supplies. This last term when they switched me to this last voc rehab counselor, he accused me of taking advantage of the system, reversed the authorizations of the 2nd counselor regarding supplies and made me return the last two terms of supplies which were authorized prior (with the supervisor’s blessing no less). I was told that they will not pay for graduate school, and that I would be on my own for that. In addition, I graduate with the bachelors Dec 19th, and I was told that although they will pay a stipend for me to look for work, It could be February before I see the first payment from it. Is this accurate? Or am I getting the run around here? I would be grateful for any information provided. Thanks!

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a rough time of it.

      Yes, that’s accurate. The stipend is used as a carrot for veterans to find work. Sometimes, it’s used for veterans to accept substandard work, too. So, be careful. Should you accept work for which you weren’t trained, they can try to declare you “rehabilitated.” If you’re rehab-ed, then you don’t qualify for additional educational benefits, which could include a grad degree. It has largely been accepted that additional schooling is required for most vets to get hired in this labor market.

      On the supplies, let me guess, you were approved for computer supplies before and the other counselor is “old school” and cannot see that computers are now vital for success at college?

      On grad school, yes they will pay for grad school if you cannot find work within the area for which you were trained to work within. Start applying to jobs now if you’re at all concerned about getting hired. I would also, on your own, apply to grad schools immediately, since programs start this next fall. If you have a tough time finding work, you’ll be able to start school again. After 5-6 months of not finding work, you should have no problem getting approval for a grad degree. Again, I would not mention that you’re applying, otherwise they will try to say you’re going on for additional schooling outside the blessing of Voc Rehab and declare you rehabilitated, anyway.

  9. I agree with Ben above. I chose the Voc Rehab. I received 100% tuition cost (Public Univerity) plus all costs for books, pens, school bag, calculator, etc. Anythng I needed for school. After finishing undergraduate they paid for graduate school too!! I ended up getting hired as an adjunct professor. Last, even though I was retired from the military and had medical coverage, I had no dental coverage. While I was in school for 6 years I received full dental coverage. So I guess it depends on each individual…bottom line – talk to a counselor or maybe two before deciding.

  10. In not sure about the voc rehab or gi bill.. I have the Gi bill now nine 11 , it seems like the voc rehab pays more attending a private arts school and it is 80 , 000 in tuition. will i be better off with the voc rehab or nine 11

    1. It depends on the program and such. You can use both at the same time. The catch is you cannot receive Voc Rehab financial benefits while opting for the stipend money from the GI Bill. If you get a degree in something that does not get you a job, you can get more Voc Rehab benefits.

    2. It really depends on your situation. You’ll have to run the numbers and make that decision. Just have two columns and add up the difference.

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