Can You Use the GI Bill for Coding Bootcamps?

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The GI Bill® makes education more accessible to eligible veterans and their families, plus active-duty personnel. The GI Post-9/11 Bill awarded over $20 billion in benefits to around 773,000 people since August 2009. However, the GI Bill includes many stipulations regarding when and how veterans may draw upon these benefits. Luckily, the GI Bill can apply to some bootcamp expenses.

A newer development in education, coding bootcamps teach practical, in-demand skills in the tech sector. Intensive career preparation bootcamps can lead to positions in software development, web development, cybersecurity, and data science. Bootcamps can last from several weeks to a year. These programs may use fewer GI Bill benefits compared to degrees.

Bootcamps can provide a fast turnaround time, which may appeal to veterans looking to pursue new careers quickly. This guide covers how to use the GI Bill and other military benefits to pay for bootcamps and jumpstart a career in tech.

What Is the GI Bill?

Congress passed the GI Bill to provide financial and educational aid to U.S. veterans. The first form of the bill passed as The Servicemen’s Readjust Act of 1944 to help veterans reintegrate into society at the end of WWII.

Around that time, only the wealthy could afford higher education. However, veterans accounted for 49% of incoming college students by 1947. The original GI Bill ended in 1956, but not before the program allowed 7.8 million WWII veterans to pursue education or training.

Mississippi representative Gillespie Montgomery introduced an updated version of the bill in 1984, now known as the Montgomery GI Bill. The GI Bill saw another major update in 2008 called the Post-9/11 Bill that applies to veterans who served in active duty after September 11, 2001.

The most recent version, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, otherwise known as the Forever GI Bill, passed in 2017. Current personnel, veterans, or dependents may qualify for the Post-9/11 Bill or the Forever GI Bill, depending on when they served and other eligibility requirements.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill applies to veterans who actively served anytime from September 11, 2001, to December 31, 2012. To be eligible, you must fulfill one or more of these requirements on or after 9/11:

  • Served a minimum of 90 days of active duty
  • Received a Purple Heart with an honorable discharge
  • Served active duty for 30 continuous days and received an honorable discharge due to a service-connected disability
  • Are the dependent child of an eligible veteran and using the transferred benefits

The amount of benefits offered to qualifying veterans depends on the duration of time served. Those with 90 days of active service earn 40% of the maximum benefit amount, while three years of active service qualifies for 100%. The bill offers a maximum of 36 months of benefits.

Benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill can help cover the costs of:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies
  • A one-time relocation when moving from a rural area to attend school

If your last day of active service ended before January 1, 2013, then you have 15 years since your final day of service to use your benefits. For a full list of requirements and benefits, visit the official site for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Forever GI Bill

The Forever GI Bill passed in 2017 and included many changes. The most notable change eliminates the 15-year time limit. All eligible veterans who actively served at any time from January 1, 2013, to the present day no longer have an expiration date on their benefits.

The Forever GI Bill adds benefits such as:

  • Priority enrollment at participating schools
  • Dedicated technology pilot programs
  • Independent studies programs now qualify
  • A return on benefits used toward a school that shuts down
  • Increased STEM program benefits

Along with increased benefits, the Forever GI Bill expands eligibility requirements. Veterans serving the minimum 90 days now receive a starting 50% of available benefits instead of 40%. Those who received a Purple Heart or served 30 continuous days of active service (and received an honorable discharge due to a service-related disability) now qualify for the full amount of benefits.

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How to Use the GI Bill for Bootcamp Tuition Costs

Candidates must apply for education benefits through the VA before they can use the GI Bill to cover bootcamp expenses. While applying, students must provide their social security number, direct deposit account information, bootcamp information, and any education and military history.

Candidates must apply for education benefits through the VA before they can use the GI Bill to cover bootcamp expenses.

The available GI benefits depend on the institution and course load. Along with tuition and supplies, the GI Bill may provide a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for some programs. For example, Code Platoon students attending in-person bootcamps can receive a stipend equal to the E-5 pay grade when they live in the same ZIP code as the campus.

While a bootcamp provider might offer several programs, only selected curriculums may be eligible for GI Bill benefits. For more information, go to the VA site for step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Coding Bootcamps That Accept GI Bill Benefits

The VA continues to partner with more institutions so veterans have more access to GI Bill benefits for bootcamps. Candidates can verify a program’s GI Bill eligibility status by using the GI Bill Comparison Tool.

The delivery format column below notes the program’s typical course delivery before COVID-19. These bootcamps may currently offer limited or alternate teaching formats until further notice.

Coding Bootcamp Delivery Format Available Topics Additional GI Bill Eligibility Requirements
Code Platoon On campus or online Full-stack Software Engineer In-person bootcamps at the Chicago campus
Tech Elevator On campus or online Coding, Career Preparation In-person bootcamps at Ohio campuses
devCodeCamp Online Software Development, Web Development N/A
Eleven Fifty Academy On campus or online Software Development, Web Development, Cyber Security Full-time programs
We Can Code IT On campus, hybrid, or online Java Full-stack, C# Full-stack In-person programs
Code Fellows On campus or online Software Development, Ops and Cybersecurity 200-, 300-, and 400-level courses
MAX Technical Training On campus or online Java/C#, Data Analytics, IT Business Analytics On-site
Alchemy Code Lab On campus Software Development N/A
Codeup On campus Full-stack Program Vitals, Data Science Program Vitals Immersive, full-time programs
General Assembly On campus or online Software Engineering, User Experience (UX) Design, Data Science In-person, full-time programs at select campuses
DigitalCrafts Online or hybrid Web Development, Cybersecurity, UX Design Georgia residency
Turing School Online Front-end Engineering, Back-end Engineering N/A
Nashville Software School On campus Web Development, Analytics, Data Science N/A
Galvanize On campus or online Data Science, Software Engineering Immersive programs
Code Immersives On campus, online for COVID-19 Web Development, Cloud Computing N/A

Getting Into a Coding Bootcamp What Are the Top Bootcamp Programs?

More Ways to Cover the Costs of Coding Bootcamps for Veterans

Bootcamps may offer other payment options alongside GI Bill benefits. Many institutions provide loans, payment plans, scholarships, grants, and other discounts. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back. Programs may also offer a special payment plan where the student pays a deposit, and postpones paid installments until they find employment.

Bootcamps may dedicate some scholarships and discounts for active personnel, veterans, or their dependents. Other initiatives such as the Yellow Ribbon Program may help pay for costs not covered by the GI Bill. Student veterans can find other benefits from other sources listed on the VA website.

VET TEC Program

The Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) is a five-year pilot program that began in 2019 and will end in 2024. VET TEC provides some alternative benefits to veterans, personnel, and their family members.

The VA maintains a separate list of eligible VET TEC programs.

While sharing some similarities with the GI Bill, VET TEC programs entail different requirements and benefits. The VA maintains a separate list of eligible VET TEC programs. VET TEC perks do not take away or replace GI Bill benefits.

VET TEC programs include stricter eligibility requirements. All statements below must apply for candidates to qualify for VET TEC benefits:

  • Be eligible for GI Bill benefits.
  • Have at least one day remaining of unused GI Bill benefits.
  • Be admitted into a program by a VA-approved provider.
  • Be within 180 days of leaving active duty or are currently not on active duty.

Participants can use VET TEC benefits to help pay the tuition and housing costs of full-time tech training programs. Like the GI Bill, housing benefits can vary depending on whether a student takes in-person or online courses. However, VET TEC will not cover the cost of books or supplies, while the GI Bill does.

The GI Bill applies to a variety of educational programs, while VET TEC is limited to tech training in:

  • Data processing
  • Information science
  • Media applications
  • Software development
  • Programming

VET TEC approves some bootcamps as preferred providers, which means the institution provides a refund if the student does not find meaningful employment within 180 days of graduation. Some bootcamps that accept VET TEC benefits:

  • Galvanize: A multi-state preferred provider offering on-campus and online bootcamps in data science and software engineering.
  • Sabio Enterprises, Inc.: A California-based preferred provider offering in-person and online bootcamps in full-stack software development.
  • Divergence Academy: Based in Dallas, Divergence Academy is a preferred provider that offers in-person bootcamps in advanced topics like cybersecurity penetration testing and data science.
  • Codeup LLC: Another preferred provider, Codeup teaches data science and full-stack web development bootcamps at its facility in San Antonio.
  • FullStack Academy LLC: This New York City bootcamp provider offers in-person bootcamps that cover topics in web development and cybersecurity.

Scholarships for Veterans

Scholarships and grants need not be paid back. Applicants may find scholarships through bootcamp programs, the state or federal government, or industry-specific benefactors.

This list gives some examples of bootcamps that extend scholarships to veterans:

Tuition Discounts for Veterans

Another source of savings comes from tuition discounts for veterans. While some bootcamps offer discounts and scholarships, they may not allow students to use more than one towards a program.

  • Momentum: Military veterans can receive $1,000 off the cost for Momentum’s immersive web development bootcamp. Students complete online bootcamps and can opt for full or part-time course loads. They also have the ability to pause bootcamps and pick up where they left off.
  • Thinkful: Thinkful offers a discount ranging from $200-$500 for military personnel along with tuition refund guarantees. This online bootcamp provider hosts bootcamps on software engineering, data science, UX/UI design, digital marketing, and technical project management.
  • LearningFuze: LearningFuze features bootcamps on web development, data science, and UX design with in-person and online formats. Veterans receive a $500 discount towards their bootcamp programs.
  • Code Fellows: Military veterans using VA funding can skip paying a $500 deposit while applying for the Early-Bird Discount at Code Fellows.
  • Grand Circus: The diversity scholarship at Grand Circus acts as an immediate discount for members of underrepresented groups and veterans, receiving $1,750 toward tuition.

Read More About Other Payment Options for Bootcamps

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does the GI Bill pay for coding bootcamps?

    Yes, the GI Bill can pay for some or all of the costs of bootcamps approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The GI Bill can also help pay for tuition, housing, and books.

  • Are there any free coding bootcamps for veterans?

    Yes, the GI Bill or other VA benefits can sometimes pay for the entire tuition cost of some bootcamps. Some institutions cater to veterans, such as Code Platoon or NexGenT. All students may find free coding courses online.

  • Is there a coding program for veterans that's better than others?

    Some coding programs are designed to serve veterans and military personnel, so they offer more resources to these students. However, these programs aren’t necessarily better or worse than other bootcamps. Prospective students should assess a bootcamp’s curriculum, reviews, resources, and outcomes to determine quality.

  • Do employers accept coding bootcamp graduates?

    Yes, employers do hire coding bootcamp graduates. Data from Codesmith New York City shows a 79% job placement rate for full-stack software students employed in the field 180 days after graduation between January and June 2019.


Featured Image: Inti St Clair / Getty Images

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