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How Long Do I Have To Serve Before I Can Use the GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How long must you be in the Army before you can use your GI Bill? If you are chaptered from the Army because of No Family Care plan, are you still eligible for the GI Bill?

A: It depends on if you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill. With the Montgomery GI Bill, you are eligible to start using it after two years of active duty service. With less than three years of service you would get 24 months paid at $1,111 when you decide to start school. With three years or more of active duty, the amount raises to $1,368 per month for 36 months.

With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you become eligible for the minimum 40% benefit with as little as 90 days of active duty. To receive the full benefit (100%) requires at least three years of active duty. The VA pays your tuition and eligible fees up to your percentage of the established maximum amount for the state where your school is located. You get that same percentage of the monthly housing allowance, calculated on the zip code of your school at the E-5-with-dependents rate. You would also get your same percentage of the $1,000 per year book stipend.

As far as being chaptered out, it depends on how they characterize your discharge. If it is any less than fully honorable, you will not get to use your GI Bill benefits.

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