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Can I Still Sign Up for the Montgomery GI Bill Even If I First Declined It?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve been in the Navy since Aug, 2001. In boot camp, I declined the MGIB but I didn’t know I could use it for a technical school like UTI. I’m still active duty and will probably stay until I retire, is there any way I can sign up for the MGIB still? And what would that require?

A: If you were to sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill now, you would have to pay the $1,200 contribution fee, but there is a much better deal for you called the Post 9/11 GI Bill – and it is free.

By serving your country after September 10, 2001 for at least 3 years, as you have done and more, you are entitled to 36 months of entitlement that you can use for a non-degree program such as the ones taught at UTI. Or you could choose to take a degree-producing program at any VA-approved college or university.

Or do both; take a vocational program like marine or motorcycle mechanics and use the rest of your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement to get an associate’s degree in business; then you would be set to open up your own repair business.

Or if you are married, you could transfer some of your entitlement to your wife and she could go to school – something you couldn’t do with the Montgomery GI Bill. If that is something that interests you, make sure you make your transfer request in time for it to get approved before you get out.

The point is you can do so much more with the Post 9/11 GI Bill that you could not do with the old MGIB and this New GI Bill doesn’t cost you a dime. One other benefit of it is the length of time you have to use your benefits – 15 years from your date of discharge instead of 10 under the MGIB.

And the pay structure is better under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under the MGIB, you would have received a fixed amount monthly – $1,648 – and you had to pay all of your education expenses. With the New GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and you get a monthly housing allowance based on the zip code of your school. In many cases it is more alone than you would get under the MGIB.

Because you are planning to go to a vocational school you would get $83 per month in book stipend money instead of the $41.67 per credit per semester that students in degree-producing programs get. So actually by declining the MGIB when you first came in, you are now coming out better and you didn’t have to pay anything monetarily to get it.

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