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Can I Use the Montgomery GI Bill and Tuition Top-Up Together?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently active duty Navy with two years left to serve. I currently have the Montgomery GI Bill that I paid $1,200 for. I am interested to moving to the Post 9/11 but first would like to know if I can use the Montgomery GI bill COMBINED with the TA top off and then after I exhausted that, move onto the Post 9/11 Bill. I know you can transfer after using the Montgomery Bill, but haven’t found any info on using that AND TA top off. I just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t exclude me from transferring to the Post 9/11. I am aware that I would not get my $1,200 dollars back. One last thing, how much money does it take to exhaust the Montgomery GI bill roughly? Thanks for any info.

A: I think what you mean is Tuition Top-Up. And the answer is yes – as a matter of fact, you have to use a GI Bill with Tuition Top-Up as that is where the funds for Top-Up come from.

How it works is the Navy would pay all of your tuition up front, however, the portion over what TA pays would be billed to the VA. The VA pays the Navy for that amount and then divides that amount by the current Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) monthly amount (which currently is $1,564). Then the VA would reduce your unused MGIB benefits by that number of $1,564 units – each unit would then equal one month of benefits.

With the MGIB, you initially get 36 months of benefits, so the amount of money that amounts to is 36 months times the monthly MGIB benefits which we noted earlier as $1,564. So right now the MGIB is worth $56,304.

If you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in addition to the MGIB, you could get an additional 12 months of benefits once you exhaust your 36 months of MGIB. The trick to getting those additional months is to use up ALL of your MGIB first. If you transfer with any MGIB benefits left, all you will get is that same number of months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not the additional months.

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