Using GI Bill for Schooling

8 Replies

Hello all, 

I will be separating from the Air Force here shortly within the next few months or so. I just found out about my separation a few weeks ago, and I feel like I'm behind the curve due to such a short notice. Being that I have served honorably I get to receive education benefits. The benefits that I will be receiving will make school practically free for me. I was wondering if I could get some feedback from the BiggerPockets community about what schooling would be essential for an individual looking to get into REI full time? I was looking into Business Management programs, but any suggestions on courses that would benefit me in this journey to become a full time investor would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time and patience. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.


Isaiah Burnside 

@Isaiah Burnside

Oh how I miss the GI Bill, I was able to wrap up a BS and a MS with it. Post 9-11 is the way to go. If you go brick and mortar the BAH is much better than online. I would venture to say study Finance, Business, or something related to Legal Studies and have a focus/minor in real estate or contract law. This should put you in the place you need to be as well as a backup plan if real estate does not pan out for you.

@Tyrus Shivers   

First off, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post. Sorry I didn’t get the chance to write back sooner. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the excellent suggestions. I was starting to think I wouldn’t get anyone to respond due to a bad title or something along those lines. I think it’s great that you used your benefits to your advantage. I have met a decent amount of people who have not, and that is not the path I’m taking. I like that you suggested courses on different levels for a main subject and a back up. I ‘m very impressed with all of your advice, and I will definitely look into these types of programs. I was already looking towards Business Management, now I have a few other things to research, and I appreciate that. Thanks again.

Isaiah Burnside 

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@Isaiah Burnside

No problem! That is what BP is here for! I wish you success in all your future work. Also remember that you can do a certificate program as well if you want a quick course in a specific area. A lot of these things you can research and study on your own. So I say pick a major that is good for backup, and then study and research everything else you are interested in. That is what I did. I have a few degrees, but I also have certifications and licenses in other topics that interest me and that I can apply to my business model.

You can use your benefits for licensing as well as school. Depending on what in RE you are looking to do it may make sense to get your realtors license. You can use the GI bill to do so, then still use it for your schooling after that. 

I personally had a BS in Civil Engineering already, and the CE firm I work for does a lot of discretionary approvals for developer clients. That is basically just getting their project site either rezoned or their specific "idea" (condos, mixed use, planned subdivision) approved to actually be built. So for me I'm focusing on getting my MS in Civil with my main focus being the development stuff since that is who I interact with. My long term goal with that is to move myself from the consultant to client side of things on development. I'll also be looking to use my GI Bill to pay for the licensing on my professional engineering license as well when the time comes.

If you are looking at commercial RE you may want to look into the CCIM courses. I don't have any personal experience with them, but have heard that they are phenomenal from several people.

@Isaiah Burnside  first off, thank you so much for your service. I have a lot of respect and gratefulness for everyone who serves in our military. 

Re: your education, great question. I'd say it depends on what type of investing you'd like to get into. My experience and background in real estate is single family homes, multifamily and deal syndication (raising money from investors, buy together and share the profits). Based on that background, I'd say the following would be most applicable: 

Know the #s:

- Accounting courses

- financial modeling classes (now I'm doing deal syndication I wish I had taken more financial modeling courses) 

- specific real estate courses (as @Matt Devincenzo  mentioned those CCIM courses have very good reviews) 

Connect with people

- public speaking (taking a stand up comedy class is like Public Speaking on steroids) 

- psychology classes and books (why do people do what they do) 

Be a good manager

- Business management (as you already mentioned) 

- Experience DOING or being exposed to it with an internship or job shadowing 

That said, my OVERALL advice is to find people who are doing these things and actually do it with them or closely watch them do it (then do it). Education is great but action supersedes it because, with action, you are acquiring educational experiences that likely resonate much more than any professor or book could do. 

@Matt Devincenzo  

I really appreciate everything you suggested. Ill definitely have to look into the CCIM courses perhaps later down the line. Where I'm at now i don't see myself getting into commercial anytime soon. @Joe Fairless Thank you for taking the time to break down the different categories for me. I can see how experience will play a huge factor, and once i get the chance to settle down, and know where I'm going I will be getting a hold of the local REIA and I will try the job shadowing as much as I can. @Tyrus Shivers  thanks again for taking the time to reply i know people get busy and it means a lot that all of you took the time out of your day to help someone out so thank you. 

Best of luck to you in whatever you choose. I am also in the AF and know way too many people getting forced out and not knowing what they are going to do. I'm currently deployed and know a few people here that got word they have to get out, but yet they are stuck here in the desert until we all go home. They will have no time to properly set themselves up for success. It's not right at all.

Not sure of where you are going yet state wise or if you've switched over to the post 9/11 yet but I know a few states offer free tuition for military residents under certain conditions. In that instance, it could be better to stick with the Montgomery since it goes directly to you instead of the school. Save up for your first property or take extra courses with it. Just something to look into.

Hi @Isaiah Burnside , thanks for your service! I got my BS in Finance, and the knowledge I gained has been incredibly helpful with my investing. I considered double-majoring in Real Estate, but I was able to use several real estate courses as electives for my Finance degree and that worked out great.

Good luck!