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If I Want to Pursue a Medical Degree, Which GI Bill Would Be Best?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve been trying my best to understand these new provisions to the GI Bills but I just can’t wrap my head around it. What is the best way to go for a soldier who is ETS’ing after six years of service who would like to pursue a medical degree as a full-time student on campus?

A:  You only have two choices. One, if you bought in to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), you can use your benefits to go to school for 36 months. Once you have exhausted your MGIB benefits, you can switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits. Obviously something you can use if you are pursuing a medical degree as that will involve more than four years of school.

The second option is to go straight to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use up your 36 months of benefits and not get the additional 12 months.

The biggest difference between the two programs is how much each pays. If you use the MGIB, then you would get $1,421 per month to go to school for 36 months and you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA pays your tuition and fees (up to the in-state maximum) and you get a monthly housing allowance and up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend. The housing allowance averages $1,000 per month across the whole United States with both the East and West Coasts over double that amount. The Midwest states are slightly less than the average.

Monetarily, it makes the most sense to go straight to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however, it also depends on how important those additional 12 months are to you – only you will be able to decide on that aspect of it.

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