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I’m Not Getting What I Thought I Should Get for My GI Bill Benefits – Am I Missing Something?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I finally finished signing up for my Montgomery GI Bill benefits. I enrolled in a few courses. Training is full-time, and according to the VA’s website, the monthly amount for benefits is $1,648.00. I just received a letter from the VA stating that my monthly rate is $714.50. Is there something I missed, should I get paid the full $1,648 a month or is there something that states I don’t? Any help please. Thank you.

A: First, I think you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not the Montgomery GI Bill. Second, there are two different types of Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance (MHA) payments. The difference depends on if you are taking all online classes, or attending class on campus or taking an online/on-campus mix.

Because you are getting the lower rate, I’m assuming all of your classes are online. I’ve never understood the rationale between the two payments. The only difference is the online-only student works from home and doesn’t have commuting costs. You still need to eat and have a roof over your head, just like the student attending classes on campus.

But the little-known secret is that if you take just one course per semester on campus that credits to your degree plan, you can get the higher MHA payment. The key is the classes you take locally have to be ones you need to mark off of you degree plan. If you take a class not on your degree plan, the VA will not pay for it nor would it count toward getting the higher MHA.

So if you have a campus close to you, figure out which classes you could attend on campus. Then coordinate with your online class provider to take those classes at a local campus.

Once you have finished those classes, your local school will send a transcript of credits to your online school and they will in turn credit your degree plan and everyone is happy.

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