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How Do I Ensure I Get Both the Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance and Book Stipend?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: When it says “The New GI Bill CAN include both a living expense and a books/supplies stipend” what do I have to do to make sure that I get it? Thanks! — Robin

A: Let’s start with the book stipend first Robin. If you are using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you’ll get the book stipend. However depending on your education plan, it can take a couple different forms of payment. If you are attending a non-degree school, such as a vocational or trade school, you would get paid up to $83 per month. But if you are attending a school that will issue a degree, then it calculates out up to $41.67 per credit and is paid once per semester. In either case, there is a $1,000 annual cap on the book stipend.

Now for the housing allowance. For starters, you have to take at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time to qualify for any housing allowance. Take less than 51%, and you would not get any housing allowance at all.

One other thing that could put you in the 51% or less category is if you take classes not on your degree plan. Not only would the VA not pay for those classes, but those credits come off the total number you are taking, which could put you below the 51% mark. It would also reduce the amount you would get in book stipend money.

Second, if you are a spouse using transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and the person you received those benefits from is still serving, then you would not get any housing allowance either. The reason – s/he is drawing BAH on you already and to pay you housing allowance too would be double-dipping – something prohibited by law. However once out of the military, you could use your benefits and you would receive the authorized housing allowance.

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