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Can I Get a Step-By-Step Plan On How To Best Use My GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ok, Let me lay this out so I can get the best return for my education future. I joined in 2004 and am about to get out within 6 months. I just heard all these rumors about needing to transfer my MGIB to Post 9/11 GI Bill … for myself to use it (not dependents). I was active duty the whole 9 years and even paid the extra buy-in for my MGIB in addition to the $1,200 required. Then the Post 9/11 GI Bill came out. What do I do? Do I need to transfer my benefits to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill or should I use my MGIB for the 36 months then the extra 12 months with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I would really value any “what would you do” step-by-step plan.

A: What you heard about needing to transfer your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill before you get out is false. Whoever is telling you this is confusing switching GI Bills with the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits to dependents (which does have to be done before you get out).

You can switch GI Bills anytime … even after retiring. All you have to do is go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. You get back your Certificate of Eligibility that shows which GI Bill you have, the number of months of entitlement you have left to use and your delimitation date – the date your eligibility expires.

If you plan on transferring some or all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility to dependents, then you have to make your transfer request while still serving. The other two requirements are you have to have served for at least six years and agree to serve an additional four years. To make a transfer request, go to the milConnect website and follow the instruction in the Transfer of Benefits Section.

If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now, you lose the money you paid into the Buy-Up program, because it can’t be used with the New GI Bill.

As far as a plan, if your highest degree would be a four-year bachelor’s degree, then normally the best course of action is to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now. On average, you would get over $50,000 from just your housing allowance and book stipend as a full-time student taking on campus classes. Plus the VA would have paid your tuition directly to your school.

Using your MGIB with the Buy-Up, you would only get around $62,000, but you have to pay your own tuition.

If you plan to get an advanced degree, then stay with the MGIB, use it up and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional months of benefits that you can use toward your next level degree.

While this is a sound plan for most people, it may or may not work for you. Do your own GI Bill comparison factoring in your specific situation to see which one would work best for you.

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