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How Do I Apply for the Extra 12 Months of Post 9/11 GI Bill Entitlement?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to know how I can apply for 12 extra months of GI Bill benefits. It is my understanding that you can use up to 36 months of one form of GI Bill and a total of 48 months between two different programs. In my case, I used about 18 months of Chapter 1606 & 1607 GI Bill benefits before switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am currently getting close to exhausting my benefits. I have heard about when you switch from one program to another that you can get an additional 12 months of benefits. Is there any truth to this and if so how would someone go about applying for these additional months of benefits?

A: No, that is not exactly the way it works. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of months of combined benefits is capped at 48 months, however, there is a catch on how to get the extra months.

If you already used 18 months under Chapters 1606 (Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve)/1607 (Reserve Education Assistance Program – REAP) and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would only get 18 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits – the same number of months you had left under Chapters 1606/1607.

However, if you first exhausted all 36 months of Chapters 1606/1607 and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would then get the additional 12 months of entitlements. The key is first exhausting your months of entitlement under your current GI Bill before switching to the New GI Bill.

Do the math though. Financially, you might be better off switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and drawing 18 months of New GI Bill benefits rather than drawing 18 months of Chapter 1606/1607 and 12 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Chapters 1606/1607 don’t pay much in comparison to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, with your tuition and fees paid, your housing allowance and book stipend.

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