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Did I Lose Three Years of GI Bill Eligibility While I Had the Student Loan Repayment Program?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently in the Navy, soon to finish my 6 year enlistment. I enlisted with the Loan Repayment Program in my contract and I also paid the $1200 for the Montgomery GI Bill. I have read on many websites that the MGIB is incompatible with the LRP with only a single enlistment period. But I have also read that the Post 9/11 GI Bill is still compatible, but I would lose 3 years of my enlistment as eligible time to put towards the benefit. Could the MGIB possibly work the same way? I would like the full benefit but it seems that I will have to opt for the new GI Bill to get anything at all. As an added twist, my previous college loans were not paid off by the Navy until just recently in one lump sum rather than during the first 3 years of my enlistment like most people who get the LRP. My paperwork kept getting delayed by my loan companies. Would my Post 9/11 eligibility (if I am, in fact, eligible at all) commence upon my loans being paid off? or at the 3 year mark (thereby putting me at the 100% tier)?

A: What you heard about the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill in regard to your Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is correct as they are both saying the same thing. You cannot get GI Bill eligibility – any GI Bill – and use the SLRP for the same 3-year enlistment period.

But with a six-year enlistment, you can get all three! Let me explain. The first three years of your enlistment went to pay back the obligation you incurred when you opted for SLRP. Your next three years fully qualified you for 100% of the MGIB. The two programs were “incompatible” in the sense that you can’t use that same eligibility time for both programs.

While you were gaining eligibility for the MGIB, you were also gaining eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As far as when your loans were paid off, it is immaterial. Your SLRP obligation ended at the three-year mark.

So your loans are paid off and you have 36 months of education benefits you can use under the MGIB, switch, and have an additional 1 year of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Not bad! That is how to work the system!

Oh…one more thing. If you only need three years of benefits to get to your education goal, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with all 36 months of benefits intact right away and get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back once you have used up the last month. Plus, in most cases, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays more to the user.

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