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Is It Possible to Transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill With Only Four Months of Service Left?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am retiring in 4 months and would like to transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Will that be possible? I used Top-Up twice.

A: Yes it is possible. Just be sure it is the right thing for you to do based on your educational goal before you actually switch. The reason? Switching is a one-way road; once you switch, you generally can’t go back to your old GI Bill again.

You said that you used Tuition Top-Up twice. The only effect it would have had on your benefits is that you may not have a full 36 months left to transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

How Top-Up works is your military branch pays your full tuition. What Tuition Assistance cannot pay by law is billed to the VA. They, in turn, convert what they had to pay on your behalf into months and days of eligibility and deduct that amount from your remaining Montgomery GI Bill benefit.

Tuition Top-Up is a good way to maximize your GI Bill benefits if you are still using the Montgomery GI Bill, however, it is not as good if you use it with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under that GI Bill, the VA deducts a full semester’s worth of benefits regardless of how much (or how little) they have to pay.

To switch GI Bills, go to the eBenefit website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would get your Certificate of Eligibility that you would need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

On your certificate, it would show which GI Bill you have, the months of eligibility you have left to use and the expiration date (which would be 15 years from your date of discharge).

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