Using your GI Bill® to finance your education at USM? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Note: Not all steps have to be completed in this order. You can apply to USM and the VA in any order, and you can send us your Certificate of Eligibility at any point in the process.

To apply to USM, click the yellow “apply” button at the top of the page. If you are planning to take classes at USM before or without applying to a specific academic program, please contact M.A.S.H..

A benefit is only a benefit if you apply for it! If you know which chapter of the GI Bill® you’re using, apply on the VA website. If you don’t know which chapter you’re eligible for, scroll down to the section “Chapters of the GI Bill®,” then come back here.

To speak to a VA educational representative, call the GI Bill® hotline at 1-888-442-4551, press 1, then press 0. 

After you’ve applied for VA benefits, you’ll receive a letter called a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). You can also access this through the Statement of Benefits page in your VA account. Please send your COE to M.A.S.H. via email. We can accept any form of your COE: a photo or scanned copy of your physical letter, a screenshot of your online statement of benefits, a PDF, etc. The most important thing is that you send it in!

After you’ve been accepted to USM, your academic advisor will contact you for an ACS (Advising and Course Selection) appointment. Please be sure that the courses you plan to take apply to your academic program.

Note: If you are a graduate student, you will not have an ACS appointment. Please coordinate with your faculty advisor for course registration support.

You must submit a Request for Certification to the School Certifying Officials (SCO).

Please note that this is separate from the monthly texts verifying your enrollment to the VA, and both are necessary to ensure that you receive your benefits in a timely and accurate manner.

Please submit a Request for Certification to the SCOs 30 days or more before the start of each term that you want to use your VA benefits. Late submissions or those with inaccurate information could delay your VA benefit payments, but will not prevent you from starting classes.

Chapters of the GI Bill®

The VA website has a helpful guide to the different benefits offered by the GI Bill®. For a brief overview of the chapters and links to chapter-specific resources, read on.

This chapter is for veterans who served active-duty from 1984 to 2008, and who also electively signed up to participate in the MGIB. Chapter 30 benefits may be used up to 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 30.

This chapter serves eligible active-duty servicemembers and veterans with service-connected disabilities. If you’re a veteran with a SCD, it’s worth finding out if you’re eligible for Chapter 31. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 31 (VR&E).

If you’ve served on active duty after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for CH 33. Percentage of entitlement is based on qualifying active-duty (AD) time. Qualifying AD service of 36 months or more equals 100 percent entitlement. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 33 (Post-9/11).

Veterans eligible for CH 33 may choose to transfer their benefits to an eligible dependent–typically a spouse or child. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 33D (Post-9/11 TOE).

If you are a dependent of a veteran who is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while on active-duty or as a result of a service-related condition, you may be eligible for CH 35. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 35 (Survivors & Dependents).

This chapter is available to members of the Selected Reserves, including all military branch Reserve components, as well as the Army National Guard and Air National Guard members. Learn more from the VA about Chapter 1606 (Montgomery GI).

You may also be eligible for federal or state tuition assistance through the National Guard. For more information about TA, contact your command.

A Note on Delayed VA Payments

The University of Southern Maine will not deny a student access to classrooms, libraries or other institutional facilities, make the student borrow money to cover the cost while waiting for payment from the VA or charge a student a late fee or penalty while we are awaiting payment from the VA for tuition and fees. If the balance due is not related to tuition and fees, USM may implement the same holds or penalties that apply to students not using Chapter 33 or Chapter 31 benefits.

The University of Southern Maine requires that students wishing to use their Chapter 33 or Chapter 31 benefits submit a request for certification online at this link. In addition to this request, students are also required to submit a Certificate of Eligibility, a Form 1905 or a Statement of Benefit from the VA no later than the first day of classes.

This policy is written to comply with Section 103, PL 115-407 and ends when the VA makes payment or 90 days after the date the school certifies or invoices for tuition and fees provided the student submitted the required request for certification and required documentation outlining benefit eligibility.