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Using Your VA Benefits

Students in approved programs at Northwestern University may use any VA educational benefit toward the cost of their program. Students should check with their respective program to verify its eligibility to participate in VA program benefits.

VA Educational Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill®/Yellow Ribbon Program (Chapter 33). Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program at Northwestern.
  • The Montgomery GI Bill®-Active Duty (Chapter 30).
  • The Montgomery GI Bill®-Reserves (Chapter 1606).
  • Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) (Chapter 1607).
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (Chapter 31).

VA Educational Benefits do not include the Illinois Veteran Grant or Tuition Assistance through the Department of Defense for active duty personnel. These programs are not available to students enrolled in any program at Northwestern University. 

To determine which VA educational benefit is best for you and to determine your eligibility for educational programs through the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans and active duty military members should contact the GI Bill hotline at 1-888-GIBILL1 (1-888-442-4551) to speak with a VA counselor. Visit the VA website for more information.

Students must apply for their benefits online via the VA's website.

Once a student has submitted the appropriate application through VA and has received his/her certificate of eligibility (COE), he/she should submit a copy of the COE to the program Registrar and the Chicago Office of Financial Aid so his/her enrollment may be verified with VA.

Students are responsible for completing any necessary steps as directed by VA to ensure that Northwestern University receives the Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition payment and the VA’s portion of the Yellow Ribbon payment. Please refer to the Certificate of Eligibility or call 1-888-GIBILL1 (442-4551) to verify that you have completed all necessary steps with the VA.

Post-9/11 GI Bill® VA benefits - tuition and mandatory fees information

For all students who are eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill VA Benefits, the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit amount awarded (tuition and fees) is based on:

  • An annual cap for tuition and fees per academic year:
    • $25,162.14 per student for the 2020-21 VA academic year (August 1, 2020 - July 31, 2021) for students who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits on or after August 1, 2020
    • $24,476.79 per student for the 2019-20 VA academic year (August 1, 2019 - July 31, 2020) for students who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits on or after August 1, 2019
  • The student’s percentage of eligibility as reported on the Certificate of Eligibility issued by VA
  • The student's receipt of non-federal financial aid (see below)
  • The student's rate of pursuit (full vs. part-time)
  • Whether the student is taking courses on campus or online

Receiving payment for VA educational benefits

The payment method for your VA educational benefit depends upon the VA program for which you are eligible.

Post-9/11 GI Bill® (Ch. 33)

Once your enrollment certification has been submitted to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by Northwestern University, payment will be issued after U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs processes the certification. Northwestern University is not provided with a timeline for payment by VA. For information on when payments will be issued, Veterans must contact the GI Bill hotline at 888-GIBILL1 (1-888-442-4551).

  • Living stipends will be issued directly to the Veteran by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a monthly basis. Living stipends are not available for students on active duty or students who are enrolled less than half-time
  • Book and supply stipends will be issued directly to the Veteran by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs each academic term (semester, trimester, quarter, etc)
  • Tuition and Fees payments will be issued directly to Northwestern University by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and will be credited to the student account. The amount of tuition and fees that will be paid is determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and may not cover the full cost of tuition and fees. 
    • Northwestern will place an "anticipated credit" on your student account for the portion of the tuition and fees that you will be receiving from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs until tuition and fee payments are received. This means that Veterans will not be required to front the money expected from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and will not be issued late fees on their student account for the amount expected by VA.
    • The anticipated credit is Northwestern's best guess at what the Veteran will receive in a tuition and fee payment based on their certificate of eligibility and enrollment for the academic term. If the actual payment received by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is less than what was estimated for the anticipated credit, the Veteran will be responsible for paying the difference out of pocket or through the use of financial aid.
    • Yellow Ribbon payments from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (if the student is eligible) will be issued directly to Northwestern University and will be credited to the student account.
    • The Yellow Ribbon match provided by Northwestern (if the student is eligible) will be credited to the student account at the same time the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon payment is credited.

Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill who do not see a payment by VA or an anticipated VA credit on their student account during a period of enrollment should notify the Office of Financial Aid via email at financial-aid-chicago@northwestern.edu or by phone at 312-503-8722.

Other VA Educational Benefits

Payment for the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (Ch. 30), Montgomery GI Bill-Reserves (Ch. 1606), and REAP (Ch. 1607) are made directly to the Veteran from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans using these chapters should contact U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at 1-888-442-4551 for information on how payments will be issued.

VA educational benefits and financial aid

Veterans may apply for financial aid in addition to their VA benefits. Receipt of federal aid will not reduce a Veteran's eligibility for VA educational benefits. Effective August 1, 2011, all aid not considered federal (Title IV) aid WILL reduce the Veteran's Post-9/11 GI Bill payment for tuition and fees.

Federal (Title IV) aid includes:

  • Federal Direct Stafford loan (both Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
  • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan
  • Federal Perkins loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Academic Competiveness Grant (ACG)
  • National SMART grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Title IV aid DOES NOT include:

  • Grants and scholarship aid awarded by an institution
  • Outside scholarship assistance obtained through private organizations meant specifically for tuition and fees
  • Tuition reimbursement provided by employers or other sources
  • Tuition rebates/reductions provided by Northwestern University to employees, their spouses, or their children
  • State grant assistance including but not limited to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission Monetary Award Program (ISAC MAP Grant)

Conversely, VA benefits will not reduce a student's eligibility for federal aid, though it is recommended that Veterans take into account the amount of funding they receive from the VA when accepting or declining their federal loan assistance. Veterans should contact the Chicago Office of Financial Aid if they need assistance in determining the amount of loan funding they should accept or decline.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. Government web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill