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Is My Husband Really Not Eligible for Any GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was in the Navy for 14 years. He got out in 2008. He says that in order to get education benefits he had to buy into it when he first joined, but he doesn’t remember doing it. I thought that all active duty personnel were eligible for education benefits. Is he really not eligible for any benefits because he didn’t pay money his first year in? And is there any way to check if he elected to pay or not (he has a horrible memory)? Thanks.

A: At the time your husband joined, that was the case. He had the choice while in Basic Training to either opt out of the Montgomery GI Bill or accept it and pay the $1,200 contribution through automatic deductions ($100 per month for the first 12 months).

While he was on active duty, you are right, he was eligible for education benefits through Tuition Assistance, but not after he got out . . . hence the need for the GI Bill post-service education.

But, that all changed in 2009 when the Post 9/11 GI Bill was added to the GI Bill family. Now your husband also has the Post 9/11 GI Bill (if he indeed has the MGIB too). So, if he wants to go to school, he has 36 months of entitlement that he can use.

When using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA will pay his tuition and fees directly to his school. Monthly, he will get a housing allowance based on the zip code of his school and the number of credits he is taking. At the beginning of each semester, he will get a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit. If he chooses to go to a vocational-technical school, then he will get $83 per month in a book stipend, being vo-techs are usually not on a credit-type education system.

So except for one thing, it really won’t make a difference whether he has the MGIB or not. But if he does have it, then he will get his $1,200 MGIB contribution back once he exhausts his 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. It will come as part of his last housing allowance payment. I can’t look it up either as we are not affiliated with the VA.

Comments  (2)

I was active duty from 08/18/1992 until 10/05/1994. I also did a bunch of years National Guard and Army Reserves. When I went on AD I elected the GI Bill and paid my $1,200, but when I elected to get out early they told me (after I signed all the papers) that I needed a few more months of AD to qualify! I would have stayed those few months to get my GI Bill money if I had known. Is there anything that I can do?

posted by DMJ
5:43 pm on December 22, 2011

At this point no, as your GI Bill benefits would have expired in 2004 – 10 years from your date of discharge. And it would have been more than a few months as you would have had to serve until August of 1995 to get your full three years of service – that would have gotten you the full 36 months of the MGIB. However, it is too bad that you waited so long to ask about it as you most likely did have some benefits you could have used. With two years of service, you most likely had at least two years of GI Bill benefits you could have used. Because you did not fulfill your enlistment contract, you probably only got a month of benefits for each months served.

posted by Ron Kness
11:10 am on January 2, 2012
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