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Will a Felony Affect using a GI Bill?

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The GI Bill is a privilege those in the military sign up for while on active duty.  It provides for tuition and housing allowance while attending school after completing their enlistment with an honorable discharge.

After that time, the GI Bill benefits remain available for 10 years following active duty.

For those who have served in the military, their time has been rewarded through the GI Bill of Rights since 1944.

While there have been changes to the Bill over the years, it still enables many ex-servicemen who could not otherwise afford an education after returning to civilian life.

The question is how will a felony affect use the GI Bill of Rights?

  • An Honorable Commitment
  • Going Down the Wrong Path
  • Getting Back on Track
  • Encouraging Felons to Use Their GI Bill


An Honorable Commitment

For those who fulfilled a commitment to the military, it was a highly honorable accomplishment.  To serve and protect their country was noble.

Many do so knowing they will have the GI Bill to assist them in furthering their education.  The GI Bill will assist with a variety of education programs.

It can be used for a college degree program, vocational/technical training, apprenticeship training, licensing and certification, correspondence training, and work-study programs.

The percentage of tuition and housing paid depends on the length of their military service.

Going Down the Wrong Path

For those who went on to earn a felony criminal record, military service was at a much different time in their lives.  It was when they made commitments and followed through on them.

Then they entered that phase where everything changed.

Perhaps they came from the type of neighborhood where crime was prevalent.  Maybe they started hanging out with a bad crowd and allowed themselves to be negatively influenced by them.

Perhaps they felt the pressure of working and providing for a family.  For some that stress can lead to making bad decisions and going down a road filled with crime.

Continuing in that direction eventually resulted in being caught, arrested, tried, and sentenced to an often lengthy prison term.

After completing that sentence and being released, they return to an often hostile seeming world.  Job chances may be few and far between.  There are opportunities for them, however, with employers.

Getting Back on Track

For many, though, it will require returning to school.  Take notice of the section on the website outlining the steps in going back to school.

The free guide to becoming employed reveals success stories of felons who did receive the education necessary for that career dream.

Those who have been through the military and have that GI Bill can certainly take advantage of this.  They must remember that they earned the right to use the GI Bill by honorably completing their service time.

Having a felony conviction does not change that.  They retain the right to the GI Bill.  A conviction will not alter that fact.

Actually, felons who are veterans of the military can use their GI benefits while incarcerated as long as no other Federal or state program is providing tuition in full.

They may also use their benefits while residing in a halfway house, as long as they have not violated their probation.  A violation will terminate GI benefits from being paid for any felon.

Having the VA prepared to pay the tuition and possible housing costs towards education or other educational training programs will of course depend on being accepted to that school of an academic or vocational program.

Previous blog posts have addressed the issue of such topics as becoming a doctor, nurse, or police officer with a felony record.  Having the GI Bill will not change having to meet those entrance requirements.

Likewise, even though there is a housing provision included in the Bill, felons will still have to qualify for those housing opportunities.  Check out the awesome resource being added to the site regarding housing in each of the states.

There is a very different circumstance for those who have an outstanding felony or a warrant for their arrest on a felony charge.

This will result in being viewed as a fugitive felon.  The importance of this category is so that the VA is not in the position of providing financial assistance to anyone considered to be fleeing from the law.

Legal representation is available for those in this situation.

Another critical feature is that being considered a fugitive may not only result in loss of GI benefits, but it can also put felons in the position of having to repay all benefits they have received to that point.

The government is serious about not getting into that spot.

Encouraging Felons in Use Their GI Bill

For families of felons who are military veterans and returning to society, remind them of the commitment and sacrifice they made in serving their country.

What a great opportunity to capitalize on their GI Bill by acquiring the education and training they need to establish themselves in a new career and find that job that can be so elusive after prison.

Encourage them to strive for that honest life they once had and move forward.  Don’t let them become so discouraged that they give up, return to a life of crime, and go back to prison.

Help them walk the walk with their family by their side.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to use their GI Bill after a felony?  What was like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

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