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Can Either the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill Cover What Tuition Assistance Won’t Pay?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I’m in the process of applying for GI Bill benefits but don’t know whether to choose Montgomery or Post 9/11. I don’t even know if I’m eligible for the MGIB. I commissioned in 2005 and am still on active duty. Would I have needed to pay into a program at the beginning of my career to be eligible for the MGIB, or is that an additional program? I’m enrolled in a master’s course and am using TA benefits to cover part of the tuition and I would like to use the GI Bill to cover the remainder of the tuition costs. Can that be done using either the MGIB or the Post 9/11 GI Bill? I am also hoping to take a 737 type rating course and earn my Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license using the GI Bill. Can the MGIB be used for this certification or is that only under the Post 9/11 GI Bill? If I start now under the MGIB, and find later that I need to be under the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules to pay for the type rating and ATP certification, can I switch? Do I have to exhaust all funding (36 months) for the MGIB first? There’s a lot of confusing information out there. Anything you can help clarify would be very much appreciated.

A: To get the Montgomery GI Bill, yes you would have had to pay the $1,200 contribution fee when you first enlisted. But you do have the full 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% tier just for serving your country for over three years.

The program you are referring to – to cover the remainder of your tuition costs that TA won’t pay – is called Tuition Top-Up. By using this program, your service branch pays your full tuition amount and then bills the VA for the amount TA will not pay. If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then they convert the amount they paid your service branch into $1,648 increments and deduct that number of months and days of entitlement from your remaining MGIB benefits. If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the full term of entitlement is deducted regardless of what the VA pays.

Either GI Bill can be used to pay for flight certification such as the ones you want to pursue, however their flight training pay structures differ. Under the MGIB, the VA would pay up to 60% of the approved charges. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would pay up to $10,970.46 per academic year for the type of flight training you want to take.

If you have the MGIB and want to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get the same number of Post 9/11 GI Bill months of entitlement as you had left under the MGIB. Exhaust all of your MGIB entitlement first and then switch, you could get up to an additional 12 months of benefits.

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