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Four Pillars of Empowerment: Education

Our mission is to make higher educational institutions throughout Western New York into "Veteran Friendly Campuses". A Veteran Friendly Campus is considerate of our veterans and their unique needs. These include resources found at a Campus Veteran's Representative office, veteran-friendly scholarships, and a close relationship with the Erie County Veterans Service Agency.


Survival Guide for Semester Enrollment

New York State Veterans Tuition Award

New York State veterans who served during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom are eligible for a New York State Tuition Award valued at $2,175 per semester for full-time students (Usually 12 or more credits) effective Fall Semester of 2008. You will also qualify for this grant if you are a recipient of an Expeditionary Medal and were honorably discharged. Other war-time veterans may also be eligible.

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Montgomery GI Bill

GI Bill Benefits are $1,321 per month for full-time students. The GI Bill benefits now expire 15 years after the discharge date, so take advantage soon! Beginning August 1, 2009, GI Bill benefits will be significantly expanded. The new GI Bill will offer eligible veterans the opportunity to transfer benefits to their spouse or dependent children. See the 'fact sheet' below for more information regarding this new benefit. Rates usually change each October.

GI Bill Uses:

All training programs or programs of study must be approved for veteran's benefits before a soldier can use their GI Bill benefits. Ask someone at your place of training if the program you are interested in is approved for GI Bill benefits. The following is a list of different types of training soldiers may take and use their GI Bill benefits:

  • On-the-job training programs
  • Apprenticeship training
  • Schooling (College or University)
  • Flight training
  • Correspondence courses
  • Cooperative training

Apply Online

You may now apply for GI Bill benefits entirely online. Once you click on the above link, press the red "Start VONAPP" button in the new window to begin the process. Read instructions and follow carefully. You will have an opportunity to submit an electronic signature at the end of the registration process.

*** Verifying your enrollment status each month is required before VA will make a payment to your direct deposit account. Effective 1 April 2008, veterans must remember to do this at the end of each month. Call the toll-free number, 1-877-823-2378 or log on to VA's WAVE program at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and verify your enrollment online.

Call the Erie County Veterans Services office at 716-858-6363 for general information and resources. We provide assistance and can walk you through the enrollment process. Using our computer kiosk, you can apply for FAFSA (PELL grant), HESC (TAPS), New York State Veterans Tuition Award, the Montgomery GI Bill and other benefits available to Erie County veterans. Additionally, veterans or their surviving relatives can print or fax all necessary documents from our office at no cost to the veteran.

Post 9/11 GI Bill fact sheet

The new Post-9/11Veterans Educational Assistance Act will provide the amount of the most expensive in-state tuition at a public college within a veteran's home state, a monthly living stipend and an annual book allowance. If a veteran who has fulfilled his or her full three-year active duty commitment opts to attend a private school, the school and VA may enter into an agreement to cover additional expenses under the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement option. In all, the total benefit for a full-time four-year student will average some $80,000. Veterans who serve 10 years or longer will be able to transfer benefits to their spouse or dependent children.

New GI Bill could open education doors for more vets

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The Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve

Important: Your Reserve or Guard component will code your eligibility into the DoD (Department of Defense) personnel system if you are eligible. You can be entitled to receive up to 36 months of full-time education benefits under the MGIB - SR. For information on how call-ups to active duty affect your VA education benefits, check Click on Questions and Answers and search for call-ups.


Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility will be determined by the Department of Defense (DoD) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as appropriate. Generally, a member of a Reserve component who serves on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 under title 10, U.S. Code, for at least 90 consecutive days under a contingency operation, is eligible for REAP. There is no specific time frame to use REAP; however, your eligibility generally ends when you leave the Selected Reserves.

National Guard members are eligible if their active service extends for 90 consecutive days or more and their service is:

  • authorized under section 502(f), title 32, U.S. Code,
  • authorized by the President or Secretary of Defense for a national emergency, and
  • supported by federal funds.

CH 1607, GI Bill Application Process:

Contact the GI Bill Certifying Official at your school or place of training and submit the following forms:

  • VA Form 22-1990, Application for VA Education Benefits (Download from GI Bill web site
  • NGB Form 5435-R, Montgomery GI Bill Kicker Contract (If applicable) or NGB Form 5435-1-R, Montgomery GI Bill Kicker Supplemental Contract (WOCS, ROTC or OCS participants) (Obtain from unit or personal files retained at the time of enlistment)
  • DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD 214 from mobilization) (Obtain from unit or personal files)

CH 1607, GI Bill Important Information:

  • Soldiers may use benefit as a drilling member (not AGR or mobilized) or 10 years from the date of discharge.
  • If Soldiers have been deployed multiple times and they add up to 36 months or more, VA will process the claim at the 80% rate.
  • May provide $600 additional contribution.

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Operation Recognition

Operation Recognition allows certain veterans to earn high school diplomas if they left school without graduating.

Section 305 of the NYS Education Law created Operation Recognition to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans who left school before graduation by awarding them a high school diploma.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant must have been a member of the US Armed Forces AND
  • Engaged in qualified service during on of the below periods:
    • World War II - December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946
    • Korea - June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955
    • Vietnam - May 1, 1961 - April 30, 1975
  • Received a satisfactory discharge AND
  • A resident of New York State

What documentation is required to prove eligibility?

  • DD214 (copy of a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) OR
  • A Certificate of Service OR
  • A letter from a recognized veterans agency affirming such service

How do you apply for a diploma?

Interested veterans should bring their honorable discharge certificate or letter to Buffalo City Hall located 65 Niagara Square, Room 427 and ask for Kim Whelan. Kim Whelan can be reached at (716) 816-3702.

For Additional Information Contact:

The Erie County Veterans Service Agency (716) 858-6363

The NYS Education Department (518) 474-5808

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Other Education-related links

The Erie County Veterans Service Agency
Has Partnered with the Following Veterans-Friendly Educational Institutions:

medaille college buffalo state college bryant and stratton college

trocaire college ecc d'youville college