How is Post 9/11 GI Bill Entitlement Use Calculated?
Q: Sir, I am currently enrolled for the fall semester for 18 units. My VA rep explained to me that if I have the GI Bill pay for half-time enrollment (7 units), then I will only use up one-half of the allotted time while receiving full benefits. He later told me that he was not sure this was correct. Is the above a valid method to only use half of the GI Bill time or do I continue taking heavy course-load to complete my degree within the given time?
A: What your VA Rep told you is partially true. You have to be considered a greater-than–half-time student (not half-time or less) to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.
I’m not sure what you mean when you said “within the given time”. Your 36 months of entitlement is enough to get a four-year degree, if you go four 9-month academic years. Some veterans think once they start using their benefits, they have to use them up in 36 months, which is not true; you have 36 months of entitlement, but 15 years to use it.
Entitlement use is pro-rated based on the number or credits you take per term, against what your school considers full-time. The VA normally pays up to a full-time course load, which at most schools is 12 credits.
Here is how it works. If you take 12 credits for a four-month semester, you use up four months of entitlement, but if you take 7 credits during a semester, you only use up 2.33 months of entitlement. While your rate of use is less per semester, you still have 36 months of GI Bill entitlement to use, however, it will take you longer to use it and ultimately longer to get your degree.
Be aware that under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA probably won’t pay for the credits you are taking that are above what your school considers full-time, so you may end up paying for those extra credits out of your pocket.