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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently in a non-pay status in a Navy VTU, IRR, drilling for retirement points only. I re-affiliated with the SELRES in December 2008 (after a year+ break in service and 7.5 yrs of active duty). In September, 2010, I moved into a non-pay VTU status based on my classification as a key federal employee; I am a federal law enforcement officer. I have 10 qualifying years, 11 total years of service. I am continuing to drill in the hope that my employer’s policy changes and to continue to accrue good years. I recently tried to transfer my Post 9/11 benefits to my wife and was rejected since I am not SELRES at the present. Do I have any recourse? Can I appeal the decision considering I am still in the Navy, actively contributing to my unit by continuing to drill and otherwise meet all the eligibility requirements? Thank you for the assistance.

A: While you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill yourself, you do not qualify for the transfer-to-dependents option. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to be “on active duty on or after August 1, 2009” to qualify to make a transfer request and they specifically excluded members of the IRR and Fleet Reserve.

Based on their definition, you would not be eligible in your current IRR status. However, Post 9/11 GI Bill SELRES members are eligible to make a transfer request as long as they stay in the Guard or Reserve, but IRR and Fleet Reserve memberships were excluded from that provision for some reason. Because of the wording, I don’t think you have any recourse, but to get either get into the Navy Reserve (as that would make you eligible again) or to go on a deployment and make a transfer request while you are on a Title 10 order for a contingency operation. Sometimes Congress works in mysterious ways.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I heard if I don’t verify my last month’s attendance and skip the payment, I can wait until the next semester and receive another semesters worth of benefits. Is this true?

A: Not true. When using the Montgomery GI Bill, you must verify your attendance each and every month through the WAVE website. If not, you monthly GI Bill benefits stop until you do. This is a step many GI Bill users forget and then wonder why they didn’t get paid for the previous month. If you have not verified your enrollment, do so right now, so you can get your payments started again.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I know how much I will receive from my GI Bill?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are talking about. If you have the Montgomery GI Bill, then you will get $1,421 per month to go to school and you have to pay all your own education expenses. However, if you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then I can’t tell you exactly how much without knowing where you will go to school.

I can tell you the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school, up to the in-state maximum for the state where your school is located. I can also tell you that, if you are a greater-than-half-time student taking at least one class in a traditional classroom setting, you will get the housing allowance.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is based on the zip code of your school and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents. Across the whole United States it averages about $1,000 per month, however, it is over twice that amount if your school is on either the East or West Coast; the Midwest is slighter lower than the average. Also, you would get up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit. So while I can’t tell you exactly how much you would get, this should give you an approximation.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was in the Marines and the Army. He married while in the Army and later divorced. He has been out since 1990 and has never used his benefits. We have been married for 6yrs. Am I eligible to go to school through VA? He also wants to go back to school. Can we both go at the same time? Any information about the marriage change, schooling, housing or what might we be able to get help with through VA would be great.

A: Actually the marriage change, schooling or housing won’t affect anything as his GI Bill benefits have expired, so there is nothing to use.  If your husband got out in 1990, he most likely had the Montgomery GI Bill. That GI Bill had a 10-year delimiting date meaning he had 10-years from his date of discharge to use his benefits or lose them. You didn’t lose anything though as the MGIB did not have a benefits option transfer. Being he did not use them, they expired in Y2K. I know that wasn’t what you wanted to hear, but those are the facts.

Servicemembers meeting the transfer requirements of the Post 9/11 GI Bill can transfer entitlements to a spouse and the spouse can go to school. As long as the veteran has benefits left, both can go to school at the same time.  Under the New GI Bill, the VA would pay your school for your tuition and fees and you would get a housing allowance and book stipend. If you were both going to school, you would both get these benefits as long as each of you had benefits left to use.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a great GI Bill; unfortunately it came out 11-years too late for your husband to take advantage of it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m in the process of getting out of the Army and going to college full time. I enlisted in June of 2007 and have about 6 months until my ETS date. When I enlisted, the Post 9/11 GI bill wasn’t an option for school benefits so I was stuck with the MGIB. I have 12 months deployment time also if that changes anything. I guess my question would be is there anything I need to do to get it switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or will it happen automatically?

A: It won’t happen “automatically”. When you get ready to go to school, you will have to submit VA Form 22-1990 from the VONAPP website to get your benefit payments started. Under the New GI Bill, the VA will pay your school directly for your tuition and fees up to the in-state maximum. You will get up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend. If you are a greater-than-half-time student and not taking all online classes, then you can get the housing allowance also.

Being you are on active duty already, your deployment doesn’t really play into anything. That would be an important factor though, if you were a Reservist with the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR).

With your three years plus of active duty, you have 36 months of entitlements at the 100% level. Also know that if you have not used any of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits, when you switch from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you exhaust all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill months of benefits, you will get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back. If you have used some of your MGIB and switch, you will get a portion of it back. The refund will come as part of your last housing allowance check.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to transfer part of my GI Bill to my wife. I am currently on Active Duty and have been in 6 1/2 years. If I transfer 12 months to her, will I be able to transfer the rest to my kids?

A: According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, you have to serve at least six years on active duty (which you have) and reenlist for an additional four years, so you will most likely have to do that once your reenlistment window opens.

Once your four-year reenlistment is in place, then you can make a transfer request to your wife. You have 36 months of benefits that you can transfer to your spouse or dependent children in any combination of months that you like. The key is to make a transfer to each dependent while you are still on active duty, as you can’t once you are discharged.

You can, however, manage those transferred months once you are out. You always retain the right to revoke and either keep for yourself or reallocate to another dependent already having received transferred benefits. What you can’t do is transfer months to a new dependent or one who never had transferred benefits to begin with (hence the reason to give each at least one month while you are still in).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: From Jan 2007- July 2009, I was in the MN National Guard and used MGIB-SR benefits for a year. I am now active duty Army and should qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I went active July 2009. Does my year of MGIB-SR take a year away from my Post 9/11? Thanks.

A: To qualify for minimum benefits (40%) under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you need to be on active duty for at least 90-days after September 10, 2001. Three years of active duty service gets you to the 100% mark. So if you have been in 18 months, then you will be at the 70% level. While on active duty, you should look at using Tuition Assistance and Tuition Top-up if you want to take college classes. Granted, Top-Up comes out of your GI Bill, but at a much slower rate.

Yes, your year of using your Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) benefits will count against what you have left under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now, you should have 24 months left, unless your “year” was academic and not calendar, then you have about 27 months left. If you use Tuition Assistance while on active duty, you should still have enough benefits to get your four-year degree.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am still active duty Army and have been since 2004 and I do not plan on getting out any time soon. I would like to transfer my benefits to my wife and also my 2 sons. How can I maximize my benefits in this situation? My sons are seeking degrees. My wife is seeking certifications.

A: You are almost, if not already, at the point you need to be to make a transfer request. According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules, you have to have served at least six years on active duty and reenlist for an additional four years. So once your reenlistment window opens, get that part out of the way.

You have 36 months of benefits that you can transfer, so one plan would be to transfer just enough months to your wife so she can get her certifications and the rest to your boys. Or still yet, transfer all the benefits to your boys and just pay for your wife certification training as that will probably be the least expensive of the two, being both boys are going for degrees. Once you decide how you want to distribute the months of benefits, go to the TEB website and enter in the number of months you would like to transfer to each dependent.

Once the transfers are approved, by watching for the status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved” (which can take up to 10 weeks), then each dependent having transferred benefits can go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, each will get back a Certificate of Eligibility they will need when registering for classes as a GI Bill student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I have a question about the New 9/11 GI Bill. I served honorably after 9/11, and after my service I went to college and used the GI Bill. But that was the old GI bill and not the new 9/11 GI Bill. My question is even though I already used my GI Bill would I be eligible to have the new Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits prorated or have access to the %100 tuition assistance to help payback my student loans. Thank you!

A:  Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined months of benefit you can have is 48. So if you already used up 36 of those months under the old Montgomery GI Bill, then you could get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

The next question is “What tier will you be at?” Under the New GI Bill, the tier or percentage the VA will pay, is driven by how long you serve after September 10, 2001. The minimum period of 90-days, gets you to the lowest tier of 40%. Three years put you at the highest tier of 100%. Service between these time-frames puts you at a corresponding tier.

How the Post 9/11 GI Bill works is the VA pays your school directly for your tuition and fees up to your percentage of the in-state maximum. You would have to pay the difference between what the VA pays and what the school charges. If you are not taking all online classes and are classified as a greater-than-half-time student, then you would get your percentage of the housing allowance and book stipend.

To switch GI Bills, go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1990.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently in the MT ARNG and on my second deployment to Iraq. I have 3 months remaining on my 1607 GI Bill. When I use the remaining 3 months of my GI Bill will I be able to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill? If so how many months do I have on the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 2. I’m planning on taking the GMAT to apply for a MBA graduate program. I want to purchase study guides for the test. Is there any type of discounts I can receive being in the military for study guide materials?

A: With two tours to Iraq, assuming each was one-year long, you should be at the 80% tier for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get your additional 12 months of entitlements, go to the VONAPP website and fill out VA Form 22-1990. You’ll get back a Certificate of Eligibility that you’ll need when you register for school as a GI Bill student.

You mentioned the GMAT. One of the highlights of the GI Bill 2.0 is the LSAT, GRE, GMAT, SAT and ACT, will be covered under the Post 9/11 GI Bill for veterans who need to take them to get into college or into certain programs.

As far as getting a military discount, I imagine there is somewhere you can get a discount, but from my experience you can get much of the study material between free and $25.00 Use a search engine and look for “GMAT Study Guide”. It will bring up quite a list of possible places to get what you want.