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In My Situation, Should I Stick with the MGIB or Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Mr. Kness, I am a member of the Alabama National Guard and I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. I have used all but 17 months of my Montgomery GI Bill and I plan on finishing my degree when I get back home. To my understanding, I will be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I was trying to decide which route for me would be best. Stick with the Montgomery GI Bill for the remainder 17 months (using my Tuition Assistance I am assuming is my best option to pay for tuition?) OR switching over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill immediately and forfeiting the rest of my MGIB. What is your recommendation? Thank you!

A: The best way to answer your question is to do a pay comparison of both GI Bills. Under the MGIB, you would get $1,473 each month you are in school for your remaining 17 months, totaling up to $25,041. Out of that amount, you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses, plus have money to live on.

If this is your first deployment (and it sounds like it is), then assuming it is for one year, you would be eligible for 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill meaning the VA will only pay your school up to that percentage amount for tuition, and you for your housing allowance and book stipend.

So if you were to convert those 17 months over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, 60% of your tuition and fees would be paid, you would get 60% of the monthly housing allowance authorized for the location of your school and based on the number of credits you are taking each semester.

Right now, for zip code 30303 (Atlanta) the authorized full amount is $1,149. Sixty percent of that amount comes up to $689.40. Your book stipend would be up to $600 per year (60% of the authorized $1,000). The VA would pay up to 60% of your tuition and fees. The other 40% would be your responsibility to pay.

Assuming your per credit cost is $250 and you are taking 12 credits ($3,000), your part of the tuition would be $1,200 per semester. During that semester, you would get $2,757.60 (assuming 4-month semesters) and $300.02 in book stipend.

Under the MGIB, you would earn $5,892 during the semester and have to pay out $3,000, plus book costs of let’s say $300 (the same amount you would have received in a book stipend) and would end up netting about $2,600 per semester. But, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would net about $1,800 per semester. So at 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill would be a better option for you.

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