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Is My Best Option to Keep the Old Montgomery GI Bill or Switch to the New Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Prior to the Post 9/11 Bill I paid the additional $600 kicker for the GI Bill. I separated from active duty in 2009 and have not changed it over the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I plan on taking distance courses due to my work schedule. What would be my best option to keep the old or new option?

A: The GI Bill kicker you are referring to is known as the Buy-Up program. You paid $600 into it to get an additional $5,400 in Montgomery GI Bill benefits. When that $5,400 is spread out over 36 months of payment, it amounts to an additional $150 per month. The thing you have to know about the Buy-Up program is that you cannot use it with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, nor would you get your money back.

Being you are taking all online classes, you may be better off staying with the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Right now the MGIB pays $1,648 per month. Add on the $150 from your Buy-Up Program and you are now at $1,798 per month. Out of that amount you have to pay your tuition, fees, books, etc.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition would be paid directly to your school by the VA, but because you are taking all online courses, you would max out at $714.50 per month for a housing allowance. You would also get a book stipend of $41.67 per credit up to the $1,000 per year max.

You would have to do the math to see which GI Bill would work better for you, but at least you now have a comparison to work with.

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