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As an Army Soldier, When Do I Qualify for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I join the National Guard, on June 2005, and use the GI Bill for my last two years of college, it was only $300 monthly approx. Now I’m serving in the Active Army since 2008 and I want to go back to college again for my Masters. Do I qualify for the Active 2009 GI Bill?

A: Yes, you do qualify for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, but with less than 2 years of Army active duty, you will not get the full benefit. Two years of service puts you at the 80% tier; the full benefit comes with 36 months of service.

I believe a better plan would be to

  • use Tuition Assistance (TA) instead of your G.I. Bill to work on your master’s degree. Then use Tuition Top-up to cover some of what TA doesn’t cover. The Top-up comes out of your G.I. Bill benefits and would reduce the amount you would have to pay out-of-pocket, or;
  • wait for another year until you get the full Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefit. Once you get the full benefit, then you may be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program.

Colleges in the Yellow Ribbon program agree to pay up to half of the tuition not covered by the G.I. bill and the VA pays an equal amount. While most Yellow Ribbon schools primarily apply to undergraduate programs students, many schools also pay their agreed-upon portion for graduate study programs also.

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