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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question, I’m applying for the Summer Semester at my college, and I plan to take the 7-8 week courses instead of the 16-week courses. Do I still get BAH for the whole Summer semester (May 5 – Aug 8) or just the short semester I am attending (July 8 – Aug 20)?

A: None of the GI Bills pay BAH. However, you would get the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) if you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill and take enough credits. Usually to get any MHA at all, you have to be enrolled in at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time. At many schools that credit floor is 12. So that means you would have to take at least 7 credits during a normal semester to qualify for the minimum housing allowance. Taking a full credit load would of course get you the full MHA amount.

However, during the summer semester, many schools break it down into two sessions, each 8 weeks long. So if you are only taking one summer session, the minimum number of credits you would have to take to still get the full housing allowance would be 6.

Because the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays only for the duration of your course, you would get MHA for just the summer session you are attending – July 8th to Aug 20th – and not for the whole summer semester. So in the end, it really doesn’t make a difference how long your summer session is as much as it does the number of credits you take during that session.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Does the Montgomery GI Bill pay BAH? My husband is attending a community college and from what I understand the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not cover community colleges? Thank you!

A: No GI Bill pays BAH. However, the Post 9/11 GI Bill does pay a monthly housing allowance (MHA). While it is based on BAH tables, it is entirely different. The MHA calculates based on the zip code of the school, the number of credits taken and the tier level percentage.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill also pays a book stipend of $41.67 per credit once per semester (up to the $1,000 annual cap) and the VA pays tuition up to the resident rate directly to the school. If attending a public school, it can pay up to 100%; if attending a private school, the amount is capped at $19,198.31 per year.

As far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill not paying to attend a community college, that was true before the GI Bill 2.0 implementation in 2011. Since then, it pays both 2 and 4-year degree-producing programs, along with vocational/technical programs. If in a non-degree program, the book stipend pays up to $83 per month instead of $41.67 per credit.

Under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), it would pay up to $1,648 per month and he would have to pay his own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. In most cases, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers the same courses as the MGIB, but usually pays more.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married but I want to start school before we do. He wants to give me his GI Bill, but if I start school first will I still be able to use it? He is a member of the Louisiana National Guard and we reside in Texas now. Will I be able to use his Louisiana GI Bill at a Texas university?

A: Because we may be talking about two different GI Bills, let’s address your last question first. Generally speaking, when a state offers its National Guard and Reservists its own GI Bill, it normally has to be used at a public school located within that state. So if your boyfriend/husband could transfer his State GI Bill to you (and he can’t), you most likely would not be able to use it in Texas anyway.

However if he has deployed in support of a contingency operation ( like Iraq or Afghanistan) as a National Guardsman, he most likely has some eligibility under the Federal Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Once you are married, he has served for at least 6 years, is currently serving at the time he makes a transfer request and has at least four years left on his enlistment at the time he makes his request (whew, what a mouthful!), he could transfer part or all of that GI Bill benefit to you. Because it is a federal benefit, you could use it in Texas. But beware as it only pays up to the resident tuition rate and because Texas is not your state of residency, you may end up paying out-state tuition. Also, depending on how long your boyfriend deployed if he deployed at all, you might be at a lesser tier than full-time. A typical one-year tour would put him at the 60% tier level; three years total would put him at 100%.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question concerning the MGIB combined with the LRP. I am currently active duty under a 6-year contract. I enlisted with the loan repayment program as my enlistment guarantee. I also paid the $1,200 for the Montgomery GI Bill. I haven’t seen any other questions that have been asked about my exact situation, but I have seen similar ones. When I finish my 6-year enlistment, am I correct in assuming that only the last 3 years of my enlistment can be applied towards the Montgomery GI Bill, since the first 3 years get applied to the LRP? And does that still equal a full entitlement?

A: Your assumption is correct! When you signed up for the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), you incurred a 3-year obligation where the first three years of your service went to “pay-back” the privilege of your branch of service paying off, or at least toward, your student loans. Because that same 3-year period of service can’t be used for both SLRP and GI Bill eligibility, you did not earn any eligibility toward your GI Bill during those first three years. However starting your fourth year of service you did. The good news is after serving the additional 3 years, you are at full Montgomery GI Bill eligibility.

What you may or may not know is you also have full eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill also. Under that GI Bill, you could get an additional 12 months of entitlement to use after exhausting your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or you could convert right away and use up your 36 months of entitlement under the Post 9/11 GI Bill instead of the MGIB.

The advantage of using the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away is that in most cases, it pays more, however before selecting a GI Bill to use, do your due diligence and compare your GI Bills under the same scenario.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Question regarding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I’m reading conflicting info in two separate blog posts. In regard to someone who is eligible for 80% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit, one post says it will pay “80% of your tuition”, while the other says it “will pay 80% of the maximum benefit”. So if I qualify for 80% of the $19,198.31 maximum benefit and my tuition is $15,930 per year, how much of that will the Post 9/11 GI Bill pay? Eighty percent of the max benefit would be $15,358.65, whereas, 80% of the tuition would be $12,744. That is a big difference and I would like to know before I go down this path. Thanks!

A: Without knowing which two posts you are referring to, it will be hard to explain the answers, however, I can tell you that the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays actual costs. So in your case of being 80% eligible, it would pay the $12,744 figure of your $15,930 per year tuition costs you quoted.

However, if your tuition exceeded the $19,198.31 cap, then it would only pay 80% of $19,198.31 amount. See the difference?

Generally speaking, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to 100% of the resident tuition at a public school and up to $19,198.31 per year at a private school, providing you are at the 100% tier. If you are less, in your case 80%, then it will only pay up to 80% of those amounts.

That 80% figure also carries over to your housing allowance and book stipend. The full housing allowance amount is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking and paid at the E-5 with dependents pay grade; you would get up to 80% of the E-5 with dependents amount as a full-time student. However if your rate of pursuit is less than full-time, you would get 80% of the lesser amount.

For example, your school uses 12 credits as their full-time credit floor and you are taking 9 credits. You would get 80% of 75% (9 credits you are taking divided by 12 credits required for full-time status).

As far as the book stipend, you would get 80% of $41.67 per credit or $33.34 per credit. Does that explain your question?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was USAF active duty for 2.5 years and paid into the MGIB ($1,200.00) then I joined the Air Guard as an Active Guard/Reserve for 14 years now under Title 32 (502F). Can I sign up for the Post 9/11 Bill? I would like to give my benefits to my children but they are ages 5 and 12. Would that be a problem? Thank you.

A: You really don’t have to sign up for the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you already have it just from your 14 years of Title 32 502(f) service. However, if you want to transfer benefits to your sons, you’ll have to give up your Montgomery GI Bill as part of the conversion process.

To begin the transfer process, just go to the milConnect website and follow the Transfer of Benefits instructions. Know that you’ll have to commit to an additional four years of Title 32 502(f) service as part of that process. You’ll know when your transfer is approved by a change in the Status Block from “Transfer Pending” to “Transfer Approved”.

Once each son becomes old enough to use their transferred benefits, they can go to the website listed at the time and request their Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Right now that is at the eBenefits website and the form is VA Form 22-1990e. It may be different by the time thy get ready to do it, however the process should be much the same.

When each son has his COE, each will need to hand in a copy when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student. Transferring benefits now is a wise move as you can’t do it once retired or if you can’t serve for four more years. And your sons have from age 18 (or when graduated from high school if younger) until age 26 to use their transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, the college that I will be going to has a few different campuses. I was wondering if the BAH part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill will use the zip code for the main campus or for the smaller campus that I will be taking most of my classes at. Thank you.

A: It depends on if the school has set-up with the VA their satellite sites with separate facility codes or not. If they have tried in the past but were declined, they should try again. With the differing BAH rates, the VA is more open now to allowing satellite campus recognition than they have been in the past.

Some students were receiving less housing allowance by being forced to identify with the main campus. In some cases, much less, which is why the VA had a change of policy about 1 ½ years ago. The downside of the policy change is that some students ended up receiving less money due to the change because the BAH rate was higher at the main campus than at the satellite, but that is the way it goes.

The zip code of the school is not the only thing that determines the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance. While the base amount for an E-5-with-dependents is the starting amount, the number of credits taken and tier level percentage also factor into the final amount. As a separate payment, a book stipend of $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 cap) is also paid to the student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My grandson says that his mother’s husband, who is not his father, an active duty Navy officer with approximately 18 years of service can transfer his GI Bill benefits to him, even though he is not his legal father, nor has he adopted him. He is planning to go to a very expensive private school, and I don’t want him to be left high and dry with great expectations of great financial help via this route.

A: Your grandson got some bad information from somewhere. In order for his stepfather to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to him, he has to be a legal dependent of his stepfather as listed in DEERS. So if his step-father did not go through the legal process to formally adopt him, which it sounds like he did not, then he could not make a transfer of benefits to him – even if he wanted too.

However, if he does end up formally adopting him, he could go to the milConnect website and follow the Transfer of Benefits instructions. Keep in mind he has to commit to serving an additional four years from the time the transfer is approved.

Once the transfer is approved, his step-son then has to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Upon enrolling in school, he has to hand in a copy of his COE so his school knows he is a GI Bill student. The paperwork they have to submit is what gets the payment process both to them and your grandson started.

Another thing to watch is your grandson could only receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits up to age 23 and he would have to use them up by age 26, so time could be of the essence as far as getting the adoption process started.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello I had a question about my GI Bill. I paid for my GI Bill when I was in the Navy, where I also paid for a GI Bill extension for more GI Bill benefits. Once I got out after my 4 year tour, and after a year out of the service I joined the Army and in my Army enlistment paperwork it automatically said I declined the GI Bill…..Does that mean I still have my Navy GI Bill?….and if so does that mean I have 10 years to use it from the date I got out of the Navy?…I know it’s a mess of a situation, just curious…If you could help me out that would be great, thanks.

A: Yes, that is what the Army declination means, since you can’t get two Montgomery GI Bills (MGIB) from active duty. As far as the time you have to use your MGIB, it goes 10 years from your last discharge – which in your case would be when you leave the Army, so you will have a lot of time to use your MGIB.

However, depending on when you joined the Navy and Army, you also could have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under that GI Bill you could either convert your 36 months of the MGIB over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or use up all of your MGIB first, convert and get an additional 12 months of education benefits. You would need three years of active duty service after September 10, 2001 to get the maximum benefit.

As far as your GI Bill extension, if you bought into the Buy-Up program, it can be used with the MGIB, but not the Post 9/11 GI Bill. While it is not a great amount of money – $150 per month – it should be one of your considerations as far as converting to the New GI Bill or not.

The advantage of converting with your MGIB intact is the Post 9/11 GI Bill usually pays better, however if you are thinking about going to grad school, the additional 12 months after using up your MGIB could come in handy to pay the higher tuition rate.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have heard from friends in the Mass. National Guard that if they do a deployment while assigned as a member of that unit, they can go to any state school in Massachusetts for free. They say this does NOT impact their GI Bill. 1) Is this true?

A: While I’m seeing a tuition waiver for Massachusetts National Guard members on their website, I’m not seeing that it is dependent on completing a deployment. As a member in good standing, Guardsmen can attend a state supported school and get 100% of the tuition wavered.

Also not specific to just Massachusetts, Guardsmen can use Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA) as part of their education program. This can come in handy of they choose to attend a private school as many of the state veteran education benefits do not cover private school attendance.

The deployment part sounds more like the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The only way a Guardsman without prior service can get Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility is to deploy for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001 in support of a contingency operation. A typical one-year tour provides up to 60% coverage.

To answer your question as far as the impact of their GI Bill by using both the Tuition Waiver and Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would affect the amount the VA pays the school. Since the VA is the last payer of tuition when other forms of financial assistance are used, they would not pay anything toward tuition. So in essence while a Guardsman can get both, all s/he is getting from their Post 9/11 GI Bill is the housing allowance and book stipend.

Since Tuition Waiver only covers up to 130 credits, a better plan in my estimation would be to use the Tuition Waiver Program to the maximum amount and then switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to finish off the degree. That way the VA is paying your tuition (up to your tier percentage) and you still get the housing allowance and book stipend you are authorized for up to 36 months.