This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is active duty Army and wants to transfer his GI Bill to me. He doesn’t hit 6 years until June 2011, but he has re-enlisted for another 5 years I believe. When can he transfer his GI Bill?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules say six years and re-enlist for an additional four years, so he should be able to access the transfer option sometime in June 2011 after he reaches the six years of qualifying active duty service mark.

To make a transfer, he can go to the TEB website and enter the number of months he wants to give to you; it can be any amount of his unused months of entitlement.

After making the transfer request, he will have to keep checking back at the website and look for the Status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”. Once that happens (which can take up to 8 weeks), then you can go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, you will get your Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when you enroll in school.

He should still have four years of service left in June 2011 from his 5-year re-enlistment, so he should be eligible to make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits then.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in the Colorado National Guard from 1980 to 1986 in the 122nd Med Amb Co (-) and I received an Honorable Discharge on 17 Nov 86. I applied with the Veterans Affairs but have been told since I was in the National Guard that I am not considered a Veteran. Why then did the United States of America issue me an Honorable Discharge, and why am I allowed to have Honorable Discharge License plates issued to me?

A: Different programs have different rules. While the VA may have said to you that you are not a veteran, what they actually meant is you don’t qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill- Active Duty (MGIB-AD) as that would have required at least 24 to 36 months of active duty service plus making the $1,200 contribution. From your question, it sounds as though all your time was in the National Guard.

While you probably did have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) GI Bill while you were in the National Guard, which is what most Reservists and National Guardsmen have, it is good only for 10 years while you were still in and the benefits expire once you are discharged.

The honorable discharge status you have is actually a characterization of service, meaning you performed according to standards while you were in the National Guard.  That characterization of service was the basis for your license plates and really doesn’t have anything to do with if you are a veteran or not – only that you served in the Armed Forces honorably.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband goes to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He meets 100% of the requirements for the New 9/11 GI Bill. He is earning his masters in Engineering and all of the classes offered are on campus, but also can be taken online. He will be attending all his classes in the actual classroom on campus, but because there is an online option he is being denied the housing stipend. What can we do about this? Who should he contact? The school told him he would have get a minor in something that offers only on-campus classes, but this will set him behind and he won’t be able to graduate when he needs to. Please help us! Thanks!

A: I know of no VA rule that says if an online and on-campus option both exist for the same course, that you can’t get the housing allowance if you choose the on-campus option. All an online-only student has to do to get the housing allowance is take one on campus class per term that pertains to his/her degree plan.

I suspect something along the way is screwed up. It sounds like the VA thinks he is taking the online only option in which he would not be authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

I don’t agree with your school’s reasoning either as far as getting a minor in something offered as only an on-campus class. That’s crazy – I hope it wasn’t the school VA certifying Official that told you that, because that is where I recommend you go next.

My first stop would be with the school’s VA Certifying Official. I suspect the form he/she sent into the VA is filled out wrong. It might show him taking the online option instead of on campus. If the form is filled out right (or you don’t get anywhere with that person), then my next call would be to either your State or Regional VA Office. Explain what is fact and the response you got and see if they can straighten it out. The smaller offices are usually more responsive than the main VA Office.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I am a retired U.S. Army officer. I served more than 10 years on active duty. I am a Gulf War Veteran having served on active duty for 3 years from 2003 to 2006. I have not used any of my MGIB Educational Benefits. I would like to transfer them to my daughter. What is the procedure for conducting this process? Thank you for your assistance.

A: It doesn’t look good for you to make a transfer Sir. The Montgomery GI Bill doesn’t have a dependents transfer option. And while you do qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, unfortunately, you can’t make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits once you are retired. The way Congress wrote the bill, the servicemember has to be “on active duty on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request.

There is a bill currently in congress right now that if passed, would allow 20 plus-year veterans to make a transfer request, but  with 10 years of service, I’m afraid that isn’t going to help you either.

Your daughter could try filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what she qualifies for as far as educational financial assistance.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am writing to ask if the GI Bill transfer could apply to servicemen who served prior to 9/11. My father served in Vietnam and has not used his GI Bill and would like to transfer it to either myself or my sister. We have no idea how to even go about this, since most of the information involves current servicemen. Thanks you for your time and any assistance you give.

A: The problem is there won’t be anything left of your father’s GI Bill to transfer even if it did have a transfer option (which it didn’t). GI Bills all have a delimiting date so after a set number of years, all unused benefits expire. In your father’s case, he might have switched his Vietnam-Era GI Bill to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), but even that would have expired around the year 2000 and the MGIB didn’t have a transfer option either.

The only GI Bill that can be transferred to dependents is the Post 9/11 GI Bill and he would have had to serve after September 10, 2001 to establish eligibility for the new GI Bill along with still being on active duty on or after August 1, 2009 to make a transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I was honorably discharged in February 2001. I found a school in July 2010 with a course that would propel my career and enrolled full-time. My eligibility letter stated my GI Bill benefits will end in Feb. 2011. Is this contingent upon me being not being in school or will the benefits continue until I graduate in July 2011?

A: Your benefits will end on Feb. 2011 regardless if you are in school or not. The Montgomery GI Bill has a 10-year delimiting date and the VA has no authority to continue paying benefits once you are past that point, so your benefits will end on the exact date 10 years from your discharge.

Running out of entitlements is treated differently. If you run out of entitlements mid-term, the VA is authorized to keep paying you benefits to the end of the semester. The difference between the two is a matter of how Congress wrote the GI Bill rules and regulations.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am a veteran and use my GI Bill to pay for online college. I am moving and would like to start receiving BAH. I was told that I need to go full-time and take at least one ground campus course. I was also told that both my online class and my ground campus class must end on the same date to receive BAH. I can’t find a school that does this, so I was wondering if I could drop out of my online school after my current class is over and enroll into the college that has ground campus classes. Would my GI Bill cover this next school? If so, what exactly do I need to do to accomplish this?

A: Either what you were told, or what you interpreted from what you were told, isn’t quite correct. First, you don’t have to go to school full-time to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

You do, however, have to maintain a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time. For example, if your school considers full-time to be 12 credits, then you have to take at least 7 credits to get the housing allowance.

What you heard about having to take at least one class on campus per term to get the housing allowance is true. If you take only online classes, you will not get the housing allowance, but one on-campus class per term pertaining to your degree plan qualifies you for the payment.

Also, what you heard about both online and on-campus classes having to start and end at the same time is not true. As I said earlier, you have to maintain a greater-than half-time status to get your housing allowance, so you will only qualify for the period of time when your classes add up to the required number of credits to maintain that status. So if you have a class start later or end earlier than the rest (and that class drops you below the greater-than-half-time rate), then you would not get housing allowance for the period of time you were below the number of credits required – only for the period of time you were at or above the line.

As far as changing schools, yes your Post 9/11 GI Bill would cover that. Just go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1995, Change of Program or Place of Training form.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: This is my 3rd semester using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I recently withdrew from my classes and my question is, will I have to pay back the housing money?

A: Most likely yes, you will have to pay back your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, plus tuition and fees. You are authorized the housing allowance if your maintain a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time, so if you would have dropped maybe one class, but still stayed over the half-time mark, you would have been O.K. and not been required to pay back the housing allowance – just the tuition and fees (if there were no mitigating circumstances).

If there were mitigating circumstances (circumstances that were beyond your control causing you to drop or withdraw from a class), then you most likely would not have had to pay for the class either.

Don’t delay in contacting your school VA Certifying Official and have that person contact the VA immediately. You want the VA to know quickly before they send you any more money and you get into a deeper overpayment situation. Once you hear from VA Debt Management, you will have to either pay the money back or set up a payment schedule before you will be able to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements again.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering how long my husband’s veterans benefits are available to me for continuing my education? He was in the 82nd Airborne, served for over 10 years and became the Jump Master. He is a disabled vet, and is looking to return back to college. It has been roughly 20 years and we are not sure if he is still eligible to use his education benefits? Thank you!

A: Unfortunately, his education GI Bill benefits have expired. Back then, your husband would have had the Montgomery GI Bill and that carries a delimiting date of 10 years from the date of discharge.

If either of you would like to go to school, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you would qualify for as far as education financial aid. There are also many grants, scholarships and loans available, but they take some searching on the Internet to find. My point is if both of you want to go to school, there is financial assistance available to help you. Where there is a will, there is a way. Good luck!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to get a fitness nutritionist certification. Can my husband transfer part of his 9/11 GI Bill to me for that?

A: He could, but about all it would pay would be up to a $2,000 reimbursement for the certification test. The Post 9/11 GI Bill generally does not pay for non-degree type courses, such as trade, technical, license and certifications. It is more focused on degree-producing programs.

For your nutritionist certification, you might want to look at using the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program. That program pays military spouses up to $2,000 per year, with a $4,000 cap, and you have up to three years to complete your course. And it covers certifications, licenses and associate’s degree programs, in case you would want to continue with your program and get a two-year degree in fitness nutrition.