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How Long Do I Need to Serve on Active Duty for Me to Be Able to Use My GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello Sir, I have a couple of questions about the GI Bill. I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan, and I should be returning home close to December. Now my questions are, how long do I need to serve on active duty for to me able to use my GI Bill? What exactly are the benefits of the GI Bill? And can you please dumb it down for me because I’ve looked at 4 different sites and I still don’t understand what they are saying. Thank you sir.

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill is based on a tier system. The more time you serve, the more percentage of the Bill you receive. You would get minimum benefits (40%) with as little as 90 days of service on Title 10 Orders after September 10, 2001, but you have to serve three years or more to get the full (100%) of the GI Bill.

If you are a Selected Reservist serving a typical one-year deployment tour, you would be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 60% tier, meaning the VA would pay 60% of your tuition and eligible fees directly to your school and you would get 60% of the monthly housing allowance and once per semester book stipend (up to your $600 annual limit).

Because you would be at less than 100% tier, you would not be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program and you would therefore be responsible for the remaining 40% of the unpaid tuition and eligible fees. However, if you were an active duty servicemember, with three years of service or more, you would be at the 100% tier and eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, provided your school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA.

If you attend classroom classes, you would get your tier percentage of the housing allowance which is figured according to the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. If you decide to do a full-time online-only program, then you would get your tier percentage of $684.00 if you attend full-time.

As far as the book stipend, it is paid at your tier percentage of $41.67 per credit up to your annual $600 limit.

If you are taking about the Montgomery GI Bill, you would get up to $1,564 per month and you have to pay all your own education expenses out of that monthly amount.

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