How to Pay for a Bootcamp with the GI Bill

The G.I. Bill provides financial support for veterans and their families to pursue higher education. This support doesn't just apply to colleges and universities! Many bootcamps can be funded through the G.I. Bill as well. Read on to learn how this works!
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Paying for a bootcamp program can be harder than it seems. While bootcamps are often a more cost-effective way to enter the tech industry compared to an undergraduate degree, the price can still be hefty. The average cost of one is $13,584, according to Course Report, with that amount varying depending on the duration and nature of the program. 

Unfortunately for those seeking an alternative to college but still looking to apply federal funds towards their education, Bootcamps are not accredited institutions, which means they are not eligible for government student tuition assistance programs like Pell Grants, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or state grants. 

However, one group is eligible for an exception to this rule. Through the GI bill, veterans can access funding for a number of non-college degree and bootcamp programs. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how you might be eligible to pay for a bootcamp program via the GI bill or other similar governmental educational benefits. 

What is the GI Bill?

The GI Bill has provided over $400 billion in funding to over 25 million veterans and their families since its inception in 1944, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Over the years, the program has evolved to provide a wide variety of financial support to veterans, allowing for the purchase of homes and education, in addition to covering family members and dependents. 

Subsequent bills have also been passed, expanding on and creating new programs, including the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Forever GI Bill. The Post 9/11 bill provides educational benefits to service members who served on or after September 11, 2001. Depending on how long they served, qualifying service members can receive up to 36 months of benefits, which can be used to pay for tuition and fees, housing and books. Passed in 2017, the Forever GI Bill updated and improved past bills, notably removing the 15 year time benefit time limit in the Post 9/11 bill. The Forever bill also included additional funding for the Veteran Employment through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program, which we’ll discuss below. 

Beyond these main bills, the VA offers a number of educational and training funding programs, with eligibility depending on minimum length of service. You can compare program benefits and learn more on the VA site. Applicants should keep in mind opting into any one program, might make them ineligible for other benefits, so decisions should not be made lightly. 

Do Coding and other Bootcamps take the GI Bill? 

In short, the answer is YES, several coding and other bootcamp/non-college programs are eligible for funding with the GI Bill! As of this writing in September 2021, the Post 9/11 GI bill does provide funding for some bootcamp programs for a period of up to 36 months. The VA GI Bill Comparison tool can be used to check if the provider of your choice is covered and compare benefits by school.

Using the GI Bill to pay for a bootcamp requires the completion of an application process through the VA. Once an application is processed, it can take up to 30 days to receive back a certification letter and continue with the process. To qualify, service members must have served at least 90 days of active duty, been honorably discharged with a service-related disability after at least 30 days of continuous duty, been honorably discharged after receiving a Purple Heart, or be the dependent child of a qualifying service member, according to Militarybenefits.info

Once qualified, service members may use these benefits in a variety of ways, including to pay for tuition and fees for eligible educational programs, housing, and educational materials such as books. The amount of benefits a service member or veteran receives depends on how much time they served.

Using VET TEC to pay for Coding and other Bootcamps

Using the GI Bill to pay for a bootcamp could reduce a service member’s eligibility for further coverage for degree programs, so it might not be a great option for everyone. However, another program that provides funding is the VET TEC or Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses program, which also covers bootcamps. 

The program, which began in 2019 and is currently scheduled to end in 2024, is tied to GI eligibility, and is available to veterans who have at least one day of eligibility on their GI Bill. In fact, VET TEC benefits can be used concurrently with GI Bill benefits, and can even be used more than once as long as the bootcamps in question are more than 18 months apart. VET TEC covers tuition costs and housing costs and is eligible for full-time bootcamps in-person or online.

Using the GI Bill comparison tool, select “VET TEC training providers only” to view eligible programs. Funding for new enrollees of the VET TEC program has begun as of October 1, 2021. 

The EQUIP Program and Bootcamps

While this program is not strictly for veterans, we did want to highlight one additional program providing federal funding for bootcamps. In 2016, the government launched EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovation Partnership) program, as a means to explore federal financing for bootcamp and non-traditional educational programs. EQUIP is still in its experimental phase, but does provide funding to a select number of programs for low-income students. Participants in the program enroll in programs offered by “non-traditional” training providers (aka bootcamps) in partnership with colleges and universities. You can read more about EQUIP offerings and see the full list of providers here.

What other Resources are available for Veterans taking bootcamps? 

Outside of government programs, there are numerous support options for veterans looking to kickstart their tech career via bootcamp training. Most notably, a number of major program providers offer scholarships explicitly for veterans, with tuition reductions in the thousands. You can view a list of scholarships for veterans here. Other programs, like Hiring Our Heroes are another avenue for veterans to connect with bootcamps and access career services. 

Ready to learn more? Read up on our additional resource pages including:

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