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Getting Out in 2004, How Many Post 9/11 GI Bill Months of Benefits Do I Have?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served on active duty from 28Dec1998 – 28Dec2004. I have not used any of my GI Bill benefits. I applied for the Post 9/11 GI Bill on 27Dec2013. How many months of benefits do I have?

A: Because you have at least three years of eligible service – from September 10, 2001 until 28 Dec 2004 – you have the full 36 months. That is enough for four 9-month academic years or enough to get you a four-year degree.

I do want to caution you on a couple of things though. One, the Post 9/11 GI Bill only pays tuition up to the resident rate if you attend a public school. If you have to pay out-state tuition, then you would have an unpaid difference that either you would be responsible to pay or you might be able to use the Yellow Ribbon Program to pick up the tab (or at least a portion of it).

Two, if you intend to attend a private school, the Post 9/11 GI Bill can pay up to $19,198.31 per year. Here again, you might end up with an unpaid tuition balance and the Yellow Ribbon Program could assist you in paying it.

Not all schools have Yellow Ribbon agreements with the VA. However for those that do, they can pay up to 50% of the unpaid difference and the VA pays an equal amount on top of what they already paid toward your tuition. As you can see, this can wipe out your whole unpaid difference. If your school agreed to a lesser percentage in their agreement, then you could be left with a small unpaid difference which would be your responsibility to pay.

Many new students think the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays the whole tuition amount and that may or may not be true as evidenced by my two examples. So if you will be in either of these situation, it would pay (literally) to ask:
• whether your school is on the Yellow Ribbon program
• if your course of study is covered
• the maximum number of students accepted per year
• and the maximum amount paid per student.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a great benefit to those who can use it, however many Post 9/11 GI Bill students are not aware of its financial potential.

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