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If I Convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill Now, How Many Months of Benefits Will I Receive?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ron, here’s another twist to the Post 9/11 GI Bill conversion question for you: I’ve used some, but not all, Chapter 30 benefits over the past 10 years. The remaining 10 months I have expire in April of this year. I’m attending graduate school for four years this coming Fall. The VA has given me a different answer every time I’ve called them: – I should convert to Post 9/11 before the 10-year expiration date. That would give me the 10 months to use under Post 9/11 for another 5 years. – I should let the 10 months I have under Chapter 30 *expire* and *then* apply for Post 9/11 benefits. This would provide me with 10 + 12 = 22 months of Post 9/11 benefits (believe this was related to the 48-month rule).

Since I’ve already used some Chapter 30 for my only service period (2002–2004, active Army), all I have is the 10 months of Chapter 30 and that’s it. I’ve been in school taking graduate school pre-reqs for the last two years and specifically did *not* claim any benefits because I was told I’d be able to use them under Post 9/11 in grad school (which is much more expensive than the pre-reqs). I can’t get a straight answer from anyone. Thank you SO much for your help.

A: What you were told is true – grad school tuition is much higher price than undergraduate. And you can convert your unused Chapter 30 benefits to the Post 9/11 GI Bill (and at this point it is your only viable option).

Because I have not heard that the VA recently changed their policy, it is my belief that you would still only get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under Chapter 30, regardless if it has expired or not – 10 months. But because you don’t plan on using your GI Bill until after it expires in April, you have nothing to lose by waiting to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill until after your Chapter 30 benefits expire. Not only would you get another five years to use up your remaining benefit of 10 months, but you would see if you would get the additional 12 months.

However you should know that because you had less than three years of service after September 10, 2001, your Post 9/11 GI Bill would only pay up to 80% of your tuition, housing allowance and book stipend if you attend a public school or up to 80% of the maximum private school tuition of $19,198.31 per year.

Regardless if you get the additional 12 months added on to your existing 10 months, expect to have some pretty healthy out-of-pocket costs for four years of grad school.

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