Q: Hi Ron, Thank you for some info you provided about Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I want to ask about mine. I am into my junior year of college transferring from a community college to a university. According to the VA, I have 17 months and 24 days left in my benefits. Now, according to my new school, I need 128 credits to graduate but 70 of the credits I have from the previous school are transferrable. So I think that would leave me with 50+ credits left to take so I can graduate. So, would I have enough time to finish it with 17 months left? Forgive me if there’s errors in my questions, that’s why I turn to an expert (you) for answer. Thank you so much!
A: No, your questions are fine. As a matter of fact, I commend you in looking far enough ahead so you can plan out how to use your remaining Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
In doing the math, I calculated that you actually you have 58 credits left to take in order to graduate. Assuming each of your semesters are 4-months long, you have just over 4 semesters of benefits left to use or about 16 months. If we divide 58 by 4, we get just over 14. So what does this value really mean?
It means that for 2 semesters, you will have to take at least 14 credits per semester while the other two semesters will require you to take at least 15 credits per semester. If you add up 14, 14, 15 and 15, it totals up to 58 credits – the exact number you need to graduate using the 17 months of benefits that you have left.
Granted, you have to know that this does not leave much, if any, room for error. If you would happen to fail or drop a class, you most likely would not have enough eligibility left to get your class paid for again, however, you could always pay for it out of your own pocket.
While 14 and 15 credits per semester are pretty hefty loads, they are very manageable and you should do fine.
Q: I am enrolled in two different schools. One is online and the other is on campus. The online school is my parent school, but the housing allowance is much lower than the on campus school. My question is, does the BAH automatically go by the on-campus school rate or does it go by the parent schools BAH rate?
A: When determining your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, the VA uses the zip code of the school where you attend classes on campus. If you were full-time, but only taking online classes, you would get the fixed monthly housing allowance (MHA) rate of $647.50 regardless of where your online school was located.
But once you add in an on-campus class, you qualify for the monthly housing allowance authorized for the zip code of the school where you physically attend class, along with the number of credits you are taking.
If your MHA was based on the zip code of your online school, then you would not be limited to the maximum online-only rate of $647.50. It is strange why they have it set up this way as almost every online school has either a campus of at least somewhere where their school is administered from. So why doesn’t the VA use that zip code and pay the MHA authorized for that zip code? Good question!
Anyway, in your case, you come out better by them using the zip code of your on-campus school.
Q: Can my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit be extended past age 26? I have a diagnosed Asperger daughter who will still be finishing college after her 26th birthday?
A: O.K., so what you are really asking is can your daughter’s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits be extended for her to use them past her 26th birthday. Being you have already transferred benefits to her, your GI Bill delimitation date really doesn’t enter into the equation.
Based on what the VA has to say about extending benefits, I think your daughter has a very good chance of getting her Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits extended beyond her 26th birthday. On the VA’s website portion titled Ask a Question, they state that you can request an extension of benefits if “You have experienced an illness or disability that prevented you from attending school.” The quote is from their article titled How Do I Request an Extension of My MGIB-AD or Post 9/11 GI Bill Ending Date? I would think your daughter would fit into this situation with her Asperger’s diagnosis.
They go on to say that if she has experienced a disability or illness that kept her from attending classes, then you should send them the following information when requesting an extension:
• The type of disability or illness she has.
• The exact beginning and ending dates, in the format (mm-dd-yyyy), that she could not go to school due to her diagnosis.
• The reason she could not go to school, i.e. how or why did Asperger’s prevent her from going to class.
They also want to know the type of each job she held during the period she is claiming she could not go to school, provided she had a job. If she did not work, state that fact. If she did, then also include each employers’ name and address, beginning and ending dates, and hours worked per week.
Finally, include information from her doctor. Specifically, a statement indicating:
• The findings of her diagnosis.
• How they are treating her.
• How long she has had Asperger’s.
• And the exact beginning and ending dates of her condition that prevented her from going to school.
Also include copies of any other medical evidence, such as hospital reports and lab test results.
Q: Are there any laws in place right now for retirees to transfer their GI Bill benefits? It seems a little unfair how they did it, seems like they are betting on retirees not using it; I use mine but I wish that I could transfer mine to my son. It would take a-lot of pressure off retirees if they could, minus all the other stuff and just giving the education part would help a-lot.
A: I whole-hardheartedly agree with you and it does depend on when you retired. If it was after August 1, 2009, and you were either in the Army or Air Force, you can petition your branch Board of Military Discharge to review your case and make a decision as to whether they think you knew or not that you had to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits before you retired. If you can prove you did not know, then you might be allowed to make a transfer to your son. The Navy and Marine Corp are not adjudicating any cases at this time.
If you retired before August 1, 2009, then you are just out of luck as there is not any provision to allow a transfer of benefits for that group of retirees.
There had been a couple of legislation pieces in the past few years that if passed would have allowed for that, but not only did they not pass, they didn’t have enough support to even come up for a vote. Plus I have sent in a petition to the President of the United States and have talked to anyone that would listen on this subject, but at least so far, all efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Also, keep in mind that your son only has up to age 26 to use transferred benefits, so they might not do him any good now even if he could get them.
Q: Can I get both benefits at the same time – the GI Bill and Chapter 35?
If you are using your own Montgomery GI Bill and with three years of service, you would get up to $1,564 per month for up to 36 months. If you served less than three years, that amount drops to $1,270. Keep in mind with this GI Bill you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books, etc.
If you are using Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, then your tuition and fees would be paid directly to your school for up to 36 months (or the number of months that was transferred to you if you are using transferred eligibility). You would also get the monthly housing allowance and book stipend.
By using Chapter 35, you could get up to 44 months of eligibility paid at the rate of $987 per month. You would also have to pay all education-related expenses.
And then because you are using two GI Bills, you would fall under the VA’s Rule of 48, which says the maximum number of combined months of eligibility could not exceed 48.
So, if you do the math, you would be better off using a GI Bill first for 36 months and finish off your last 12 months with Chapter 35. And of the two GI Bills, most likely the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be your best bet.
Q: I am currently signed up for the old MGIB benefits and have been waiting to transfer over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill until Virginia made its decision regarding its benefits this year. I am a Texas resident interested in attending a graduate level James Madison University distance learning program. Prior to the changes, Virginia had one of the lowest rates out of any state. Would it be possible to attend the University under either of the GI Bills from another state?
A: I can’t specifically locate James Madison distance learning tuition rates, but as a comparison, they are showing on their website a resident rate of $410 per resident graduate credit hour verses $1,095 for non-residents, so it is quite a bit different.
If you keep your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then it would pay you $1,564 per month if your rate of pursuit is considered full-time and you had served at least three years on active duty. However, if you switch over the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would pay your tuition up to the resident undergraduate rate of $18,077.50 for a private school. That amount goes up to $19,198.31 on August 1st.
The difference not paid would be your responsibility unless your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program (of which James Madison is not) and then between the school and the VA, they would pay the bulk of your difference.
Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a full-time online-only student, you would get up to $647.50 per month in housing allowance and a book stipend of $41.67 per credit hour per semester (up to the $1,000 per year cap).
By comparison, if you took just one class at a local campus per semester that applied to your degree plan, in addition to your online classes, you could more than double your monthly housing allowance.
Unless they teach something there you can’t get in Texas, I would look at schools in your home state. The tuition costs would be less (because you would be paying resident rates) and you could still take distance learning. If you would choose a school that is part of the Yellow Ribbon program, then your out-of pocket costs would be low. Just be sure your school has included your graduate degree program in their VA agreement.
Q: My 10-year grace period elapsed as I got out of the Army in 1992. Can I receive any benefits at this time from the GI Bill?
A: Not from the GI Bill you had when you got out in “92”. At that time, you would have had the Montgomery GI Bill and that has a 10-year delimitation date, so it would have expired in 2002.
However, if you meet the requirements below, you may still be able to get in on VRAP training. Congress passed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 and included in it the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans who meet the following requirements:
• At least 35 but no more than 60 years old.
• Unemployed on the date of application.
• Have received at least an other than dishonorable discharge.
• Not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
• Not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability.
• Not enrolled in a federal or state job training program.
The program is limited to 54,000 participants through March 31, 2014. Participants must attend school full-time in order to receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program which at this time is $1,564 per month.
Approved students must enrolled in a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the Veteran for a high demand occupation.
If you meet the requirements, apply by going to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990.
Q: I want to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Who is the point of contact I can talk to in person (AD ARMY)? I want to transfer it to my son in 11 years but I’m also thinking about using it to get my IT degree. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!
A: If you want to talk to somebody, see your Education Office Counselor on post, however, I can give you the basics of transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits right here.
First, to get a transfer request approved, you have to meet the three Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility service requirements – past, present and future. The past requirement is you have to have served for at least six years on a Title 10 order of which serving on active duty for at least that number of years fulfills that requirement.
Second, you have to be currently serving at the time you make the transfer request. And third, you have to have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of your request.
Once you have fulfilled the three requirements, then you can go to the milConnect website and follow the instructions in the Transfer of Benefits section. Keep checking back at the TEB website and look for the status change from “Transfer Pending” to “Transfer Approved”.
Once your transfer has been approved (which can take up to 10 weeks), then when your son is ready to start school, he can go to the eBenefits website (or whatever is the website at that time) and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his Certificate of Eligibility that he would need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.
Keep in mind you only have 36 months of benefits, so the more months you use for yourself, the less you will have left to transfer to your son. Being you are still on active duty, I would use the Tuition Assistance/ Tuition Top-Up program to help get your IT degree as that would preserve the most benefits for your son.
Q: Thanks for your insight on the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My question is this: I am active-duty and will continue to be active-duty while my teenage son enters a 4-year university out-of-state in California. Will he be eligible to receive the BAH stipend while attending school and I am still on active-duty?
A: No he would not get the BAH stipend as you know it, but he would get the Post 9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). Being you are still on active duty, your BAH is paid twice a month – on the 1st and the 15th. Also the amount you get is tied to your pay grade and where you live.
The MHA is calculated based on the zip code of the school, the number of credits taken and paid once per month while going to school at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents. Whether or not the person using the benefits has dependents or not does not enter into it.
Dependent children fall under a separate set of rules than spouses.
As you probably know, if your spouse went to school under your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, she would not get the MHA – only the book stipend and get her tuition and eligible fees paid. What is ironic about dependents using the Post 9/11 GI Bill is your son could live at home, not pay rent and still get the full MHA amount he was authorized to receive.
As a non-resident though, he may get charged out-state tuition if his state of residency does not have a reciprocity agreement with California. So in that case, he would have to pay the difference between the resident and non-resident tuition rate.
One thing for him to keep in mind is if his school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA, most if not all of that difference could be paid between his university and the VA. If his school is not a Yellow Ribbon school, then he would have to pay all of the difference.
It is something worth looking into as it can make a huge difference in the amount he would have to pay.
Q: Am I able to use the GI Bill benefits if the veteran and I are no longer married? Will his dependent be able to use the GI Bill when she is old enough to go to college or if he is using it, it only covers him?
A: First, it depends on which GI Bill you are talking about. The only one with transferable benefits at all to dependents is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Second, if your ex has that GI Bill, whether or not you can use it depends on if he transferred benefits to you or not while he was still serving and while still married to you. If he did not, then he would not be able to make a transfer request now after your divorce.
The same situation applies in the case of his dependent being able to use her father’s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits – he has to have made a transfer of benefits to her while still serving for her to have benefits available for her to use when she is ready to go to college. If he is no longer serving and did not make a transfer of benefits, then he can’t do so now that he is out of the military.
If he would had been still serving though, he could have given her up to the number of unused months of benefits he had left or a lesser amount if he had planned on using some of his benefits.
To answer the last part of your question, both his daughter and he can use Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the same time. The VA doesn’t care if they pay two people at the same time or just one as they would end up paying for the same number of months in the end.