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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army for 17 years and still serving. He has offered his GI Bill for my college education. I would like to know what the GI benefits will be when he passes them on to me. I would ask him myself, but he is currently deployed. This information help me decide where I want to go to college. Thank you.

A: What your father is offering you is a very beneficial education assistance package that can be worth upwards of $130,000 depending on if you choose a private school or not and the zip code of your school. He can give you up to 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill if he has not previously used any of his GI Bill benefits before.

Once his transfer request is approved, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, you’ll get your Certificate of Eligibility that will show the GI Bill you have (Post 9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 33) the number of months you have left to use, and when they will expire (age 26).

To start using your benefit, be sure to hand in a copy of your certificate to the Registrar at school when you enroll for classes. They in turn will send in a Certificate of Enrollment to the VA and that starts the payment process for both them and you.

The VA will pay your tuition directly to your school. If you choose a public school in your home state, the VA will pay your tuition up to the resident level in full. If you decide to go to a private school, they would pay up to $20,235.02 per year.

As far as the payments you get, first is the housing allowance. It is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. Right now the average is around $1,300 per month. Depending on where your school is located, yours could be less or up to twice as much.

Once per semester, you also get a book stipend. It calculates based on $41.67 per credit, but does have a $1,000 per academic year cap.Some semesters it will be enough to buy all of your books with some left over, while in other semesters it may not be enough to pay for everything. In the end it all balances out.

As you can see, your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits can be quite lucrative and should position you well financially coming out of college with little to no student loan debt.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. My daughter is going to Tulane University. Since we live in Maryland, and my daughter is attending Tulane in Louisiana, what will her GI Bill tuition rate be? Housing stipend and books? The website is a bit confusing and I was hoping you could help me. Thanks for your help…my husband is active duty Army. Much appreciated.

A: According to Tulane’s website, they are showing a yearly tuition rate of $48,305. There doesn’t appear to be a different rate for non-residents. Books are estimated at an additional $1,200 for a total of $48,505 per year.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA can pay up to $20,235.02 per year in tuition costs if she attends a private school as a full-time student at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. Of course if she is less than 100% or a part-time student, the amount they pay would be less. So that leaves a difference of $28,069.98 per year that is her responsibility to pay.

She could possibly get some help from the Yellow Ribbon Program. Tulane takes up to 100 students per year with a maximum payout per student of $1,000. With VA match, that would be $2,000. That still leaves her with $26,000+ left to pay.

However if she went to a public school in Maryland, her tuition and eligible fees would be paid in full. Her housing allowance would be $1,917 per month (for the Baltimore zip code, but it would be similar for other Maryland cities). She would not have any out-of-pockets costs for tuition.

The housing allowance is based on the zip code of Tulane and the number of credits she takes. With Tulane located in New Orleans, her housing allowance amount would be $1,329 per month.

As far as the book stipend, she would get up to $1,000 per year, so she has about $200 per year of that cost to pay also.

Unless Tulane teaches something she can’t get at a public school in Maryland, she is going to rack up quite a debt in student loans over the course of a four-year degree by going to that school. Recent studies have shown that graduates from private colleges don’t make appreciably more than public school graduates once they get out in the working world. It is something to think about.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in college now and was expecting to receive my housing allowance for going to college. I was in for just over 2 years and so I was told I would be getting 70% of everything I believe. Well I have $406 pending which I assume is my housing allowance, but my question is this: How come I am only getting $400 and not the $700 and something? I was really hoping on getting the $700 and something as my rent is $600 and is due. What am I to do?

A: With at least 24 months of service, you should be at the 80% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level. If you had less than 24 months of eligible service (in which your training time does not count, then you would in fact be at the 70% tier level. The 24-month mark is where you pick up training time that counts toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility; less than 24 months and you can’t count training time.

Your $406 payment might in fact be your book stipend payment. The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to $41.67 per credit per semester (with a $1,000 yearly cap). While that figure is low for the 70% tier as a full-time student, it is almost right on the money if you are at the 80% tier.

The $700 and something figure you quoted could end up being more too if you are at the 80% tier. You it could end up being an amount closer to $952.
And the additional tier percentage would also help you out with the difference left to pay in tuition after the VA paid their share (80% instead of 70%).

To see what tier percentage you are really at, take a look at your Certificate of Eligibility. It should show that you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tier percentage, the number of months of entitlement you have left to use, and when it expires (15 years from your last date of discharge).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a US Navy Master Chief about to retire on 30 SEP 14. I already went into the website that allows transfers and transferred and received confirmation back that all 36 months of the New GI Bill was transferred to my daughter. In a recent TAP class, we were recommended to transfer at least 1 month to all eligible beneficiaries to include myself. This would allow inter transfer within once retired. I immediately questioned as my interpretation is whatever is on file as of your first day after retirement, is the official record. No changes after that. I cannot get clear cut guidance from the VA in Buffalo as it is extremely difficult to get in touch with them. My obvious concern is two-fold. I would like the benefit used as well as having a plan in case the 17 year old decides to not go to school or complete the full course. Any advice is welcome.

A: Either what was presented was wrong or you misunderstood what was said. First, you don’t have to transfer something to yourself that you already own. As a matter-of-fact I would think that it would be impossible to do that on the TEB website.

Second, you can transfer all 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse and dependent children while serving an you still retain the right to revoke and reallocate after retiring. And that is the advantage of giving each family member at least one month of entitlement before you retire. It increases your flexibility to move entitlement around after you retire.

What you can’t do after retiring is make a transfer to a family member not already having received entitlement while you were serving. For example, let’s say you were blessed with a newborn child after retiring. You could not make a transfer of benefits to that baby, because it had not received benefits from you while you were serving.

Otherwise you can revoke benefits from one family member not using them and either keep the benefits for yourself or reallocate them to another family member that either has or previously had Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was reviewing the different GI Bill types and was wondering which one I qualify for. In my contract I am eligible for the Reserve GI Bill, however, I was looking at the qualifications for the MGIB and realized that I spent more than 90 days on active duty when I went to language school and in which I acquired a DD214 for this time. I was wondering if I do in fact rate the MGIB because of this active duty time or if I only qualify for the Reserve GI Bill?

A: Without seeing what type of orders you were on when you went to language school, it is hard to tell. However, most likely they were coded for training – time which does not initially count toward GI Bill eligibility. And even if that time did count, it wouldn’t be for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty; it would apply toward the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why? Because the MGIB-AD requires a $1,200 contribution fee payment, something which you wouldn’t have done.

So most likely all you have is the Reserve GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). However if you are not aware of the uniqueness of this GI Bill, you should be as it has some specific limitations.

One, it is only good for the first 10 years while you are in the Reserves or National Guard. Two, there isn’t any residual benefits if you get out before serving 10 years as it expires on your discharge date.

But if your time did count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, you would most likely have from 40% to 60% coverage depending on the length of your school – 40% if it was at least 90 days but less than 6 months; 50% if it was at least 6 months but less than 12; 60% if it was over one year, but less than 18 months.

Otherwise, if you deploy on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, that time would also count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill tier percentage.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from Army 8/07. I was told that I can still use part of my GI Bill for schooling. Want to go to a bike school in Colorado for 8 weeks. Will this help w/the cost of school/classes?

A: If you retired in 2007, you do still have time to use your GI Bill. In fact, you may have two GI Bills you could use. If you signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill when you enlisted and paid in your $1,200 contribution fee, then you have 36 months of benefits that you can use. But know that you only have until 8/17 to use those benefits as after that time they will expire.

However due to your service after September 10, 2001, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you did not sign up for the MGIB, then you have 36 months of benefits under this GI Bill that you can use before 2022 as this one has a 15-year shelf life instead of 10.

If you have both GI Bills, you could switch over your 36 MGIB months to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use them or use up your 36 months of MGIB first, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits.

If you only plan to go to bike school and not take any additional post-secondary education, then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now by going to the eBenefits website and submitting VA Form 22-1990.

Under it, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school, provided it is a VA-approved school and you would get a housing allowance and book stipend. With the MGIB, you would get $1,648 per month, but you have to pay your own education expenses.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I live in Wisconsin which has its own GI Bill plus I paid into the Montgomery GI Bill. Wisconsin will pay 100% tuition for any WI school so how does that work with my Montgomery GI Bill?

A: I’m assuming what you are talking about is the Wisconsin GI Bill Tuition Remission program. Under it, you can go to a school that is part of either the University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System for up to 8 full-time semesters or 128 credits whichever is greater. The program waives all tuition charges.

However, they have made a residency change to their program in the Fall of 2013. Before the change you had to be a resident of Wisconsin at the time of entry into active duty service in order to qualify for the remission program. After the change, all you have to do for residency is be a Wisconsin resident for at least 5 years immediately preceding the semester you start school to qualify.

As far as your Federal Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), you could use that concurrently along with the state Wisconsin GI Bill. Under the MGIB, the money comes directly to you, so it would end up being extra money in your pocket – an extra $1,648 per month.

But before you jump on this band wagon, think about this for a moment. You could also save your MGIB entitlement and use it at a later date – up to 10 years from your last date of discharge. That way you would have it if you plan to get a graduate degree down the road or a second undergraduate degree.

But if you are sure this is the only post-secondary education you’ll pursue, then the best plan might be to now start receiving benefits under the MGIB too.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have been approved for the Post 9/11 GI Bill but am still on active duty and have not begun to collect any money for schooling or the BAH. Is it possible for me to instead use the Montgomery GI Bill? I think it would better fit my needs.

A: If you choose to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill while still on active duty, you will not get the housing allowance. However the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school and you would get the book stipend.

Being you ask if you could use the Montgomery GI Bill instead, my question is “Did you sign up for the MGIB when you enlisted and pay the $1,200 contribution fee?” If so, you did have the MGIB, but the issue is you gave it up when you switched over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If all you have is the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you can’t switch over to the MGIB if you had not signed up for it and paid the contribution fee.

Switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill is an irrevocable action that normally can’t be undone. However having said that, I have heard in some cases where the individual that had not yet started drawing benefits, the VA would allow them to switch back.

I want to point out that this is not something that automatically happens by you requesting it. I would assume, you would have to provide a good reason for wanting to switch back. That is why in Block 9F of Part II of VA Form 22-1990 it says that you understand “My election is irrevocable and may not be changed.”

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I am currently enrolled and attending MMI (marine mechanics institute) in Orlando Florida. My start date was Oct 4, 2013 and my grad date is Sept 30, 2014. I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill and was curious if I am actually eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I was told by the student services office that I was not, but I’m beginning to wonder if they know what they are talking about. I served in the USAF May 1999 thru May 2003, honorably discharged. If I am eligible would I be able to receive benefits retroactive to my start date?

A: You could have some coverage under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however it might not be as much as your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

Eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill goes back to September 10, 2001, so if you got out in May 2003, the most you would have in entitlement would be 21 months of eligible service. Twenty-one months would put you at the 70% tier.

Now let’s run the number of both GI Bills to see which one is the best one for you to use. Under the MGIB, you should be getting around $1,648 per month.
Out of that amount you have to pay all of your education expenses, such as tuition, fees and books and supplies.

According to the MMI website, they charge $31,300 in tuition for the 12-month course. At $1,648 per month, over the course of the 12 months, you would get about $19,776. The difference of $11,524 would be your responsibility to pay.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 70% of your tuition directly to your school or about $21,910. You would also get 70% of the housing allowance of $1,434 per month. Over the course of 12 months this would be another $12,045. Finally, you would get 70% of the $83 per month book stipend money or another or $697. So if you do the math, the total is $34,652.

So the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be a better deal for you even at the 70% tier. As far as getting retro pay back to your start date, you should be able to as the VA can go back as far as one year.

Check with your VA Certifying Official at your school to see what would be the best way to go about switching GI Bills and requesting back pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am having a hard time learning about the Montgomery GI Bill. I was in the Marines and deployed, returned and let go for epilepsy. I was told I had both GI Bills and I want to make sure I have the Montgomery Bill. I want to see what I have just like I see my bank account. According the eBenefits site I have used I think 19 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I just want to know more about what I have and what is out there for me.

A: It is possible you have both the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, when you have two or more GI Bill and want to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to give up one of your other GI Bills. If the MGIB was the only other GI Bill you have, and you have used up some of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, then I’m assuming the GI Bill you gave up was the MGIB and hence you don’t have any education benefits left under it that you could use.

However, the way your question is worded, were you in the Marine Reserves? If so, then you might have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR). If you were active duty and in the Reserves, you could have all three GI Bills. In that case, you might have given up your MGIB-SR for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you would still have the (MGIB-AD) left to use.

Under the Rule of 48, however, when you have two or more GI Bills, the most combined months of benefits is capped at 48. So if you do still have benefits left under the MGIB-AD, the most it would be is 12 months after you finish using your Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as seeing your benefits like your bank account, I’m not aware of a way to display the information like that. Your best bet would be to contact the VA and ask them what they see in your record of benefits.