Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
Do you need special training before you can start your own small business? What if you’ve got the training but not the money to open the business or expand one you’ve started? Consider using your Montgomery GI Bill education benefits to pay for them.
You can also be reimbursed for licensing and certification tests which you took after March 2001. Plus, MGIB can cover tutoring and work-study benefits as well as provide information on franchises and other business opportunities.
The MGIB is available for both Active and Reserve veterans and must be used within the ten years after leaving service, but this article speaks directly to the Active veterans.
There are four categories to establish eligibility based on entry into and/or separation from active duty. All who seek eligibility must have received a “fully honorable” discharge, as opposed to “under honorable conditions” or “general”. Also, all who qualify must have completed high school or obtained an equivalency certification or completed twelve hours toward a college degree.
Restrictions for use of your MGIB are many, but basically fall under:
Quality of the course – has to be an accredited program and facility, or taught by the Small Business Development Centers or the Veterans Corporation
Purpose of the course – has to lead directly to a degree or occupation
Status of the student – student cannot be adjudicated or a fugitive
Know what you want and work to achieve it. You may only change your program once and you must maintain your school’s standards by way of grades, attendance, and conduct.
The frequency and rate of payment are based on the type of training you want, so make sure you have checked with your Education Service Officer to establish just how much and when you will receive your money. That way, you can be prepared for out of pocket expenses plus take into account any other funding you may be entitled to.
Of course, the MGIB can also be used to earn a Bachelors degree, as well as a Masters and higher.
You are your own best advocate – initiate the contacts necessary to begin this process, keep good records of your finances, make copies of everything - including your grades, ask questions if you don’t understand something or it didn’t come out the way you expected. In short, run your MGIB-funded training the way you will run your business. Begin networking with fellow students and instructors – you never know when they may be in need of your business services and people are 85% more likely to hire a face they recognize than a stranger. Once you have established your veteran-run business, continue networking – register with the Veteran’s Vender Information pages database.
I’ll hire a veteran over a stranger any day!