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Did the VA Make a Mistake in Giving Me 50% Post 9/11 GI Bill Eligibility?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a bit confused about something. I entered as an enlisted soldier in Feb ‘01 and served for four (4) years on active duty before getting honorably discharged. I received the SLRP and as such had to disenroll from the MGIB upon entrance. My three loan payments were made by SLRP and all I served was one term (4 years) of service, the one for which I got SLRP. What’s puzzling is that I just got a benefits certificate back from VA saying I’m eligible for 50% benefits in Post 9/11 GI Bill. Is this likely a mistake by VA? I was under the impression that you couldn’t get any GI Bill for the same initial term period in which you got the SLRP. The VA certificate sites 324 service days as the basis for my 50% Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility. Could this 324 days roughly be the one year following the three in which I got SLRP? Basically did VA make a mistake in my case, for the 324 days corresponding to the roughly last year of my initial term, or am I really 50% eligible? I need to know the answer to this because my state VA benefits can’t kick in unless I am ineligible for Fed VA benefits and FE VA is saying I am 50% eligible.

A: No it is not a mistake; most likely you are 50% eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. When you enlisted for four years with the SLRP option, your first three years were to “pay back” your SLRP. During your most of your last year, however, you did acquire GI Bill eligibility.

It is true that you can’t get SLRP and the GI Bill for the same period of service and you did not. That is why your eligibility is for 50% and not 100%. It sounds like you thought you were ineligible for the whole four years, which was not the case.

Also I don’t know if you knew about the Post 9/11 GI Bill or not when you enlisted. The GI Bill declination was just for the Montgomery GI Bill because that GI Bill requires a $1,200 contribution and with only four years of service (and the first three do not count) you would not be able to get full GI Bill eligibility.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill, on the other hand, is different in that is it free just from your service of at least 90 days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001.

As far as not being eligible for your state VA benefits, look beyond your state. Apply for scholarships and grants not dedicated to pay tuition and you can use that money to help pay towards the 50% of the tuition that your Post 9/11 GI Bill does not pay. You would also get 50% of the housing allowance and book stipend. When everything is added together, you should have enough to pay for most of your college.

Join the National Guard or Reserve and get paid for drills and eligible for Federal Tuition Assistance which would give you more money yet for part-time service to your country.

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