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Is It True That I Surrendered A Portion of My Post 9/11 GI Bill When I Accepted CLRP?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was recently informed that as a result of accepting College Loan Repayment Program money for my undergrad studies, I surrendered a portion of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am already approved for the MGIB, however, I am trying to decide if it may be more worthwhile to forgo it and use whatever reduced percentage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill that I still rate. I fulfilled the 3 years obligated service in repayment of the CLRP and have one year service on top of that, in which Post 9/11 GI Bill credit was accumulated. What I am trying to figure out is what does that actually look like in terms of payment for school? I understand that it still provides for 3 years of schooling, however, since the first 3 years of my service went to paying back CLRP, the Post 9/11 Bill money I would receive for those 3 years would be a portion of what somebody who did not take CLRP would receive. Is there a dollar amount that this comes out to, so that I can compare it to the money I would receive from the MGIB (which I rate in full)? Also, does the reduced payment affect the BAH that the Post 9/11 provides, or is it just tuition? You seem very keen to these topics and I have spent much time with few answers at the VA. Thank you for your time.

A: When you signed up for CLRP, you incurred a three-year obligation as you stated. During your first three years of service you were not accumulating any GI Bill benefits, neither Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill – zip, nada, nothing. With one full year of qualifying service – your last 12 months – credited toward your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would be at the 60% tier. If you don’t have a full twelve months since your three-year CLRP anniversary, then you are currently at the 50% tier.

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill are so different that it is somewhat hard to make a comparison. The MGIB does have a monetary cap to it, while the Post 9/11 GI Bill simply has up to 36 months of entitlement, regardless of what it costs. So once you have another two years of service, you could get up to $1,468 per month in MGIB benefits. Out of that amount, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

If using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in another two years, you would be at the 100% tier, meaning the VA would pay all of your tuition at a public school in your state of residency or up to $19,198.31 per year if you decide to attend a private school. On top of that, you would get the full housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking during each semester. At the beginning of each semester, you would get the book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit. There is a $1,000 cap per academic year on the book stipend.

Right now if you went to school, the VA would pay up to your tier percentage of either 50% or 60% in tuition and you would get that same percentage in book stipend money. If you are still serving, you would not be eligible for the housing allowance; no longer serving and you would get the same tier percentage of the housing allowance.

Because at this time with only one year of eligible GI Bill service, you do not rate the MGIB, so it makes it easy which GI Bill to use – the only one you have – the Post 9/11 GI Bill. However with another two years of service you could have both at 100%. Then you could choose whether to convert all 36 MGIB months over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get back your $1,200 contribution fee once you have used up the last of your converted Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, or use up all of your MGIB, convert and get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

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