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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired (23 years) in 2006. My son is now a senior and I would like to transfer any benefits from the GI Bill over to him. Is he eligible since I am already retired? And if so, how do I find out the amount he is eligible?

A: No, I’m sorry, but he is not eligible. If you have the Montgomery GI Bill, that Bill never had a dependent transfer option and if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to make a transfer request on or after August 1, 2009. By that time, you had been retired for three years.

You, and thousands of other veterans just like you, got caught in this trap. You fully qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option, but because you retired before the August 1st date, you never had an opportunity to make a transfer.

There is legislation right now in Congress that would correct this error. Contact your legislators and ask them to support bill S3447.

If that bill passes, then you would be able to make a transfer request to your son. You could transfer any or all unused Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements. The exact process to accomplish this would still have to be worked out once the bill passes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I currently have 22 years reserve service in addition to being mobilized for OEF in 2003. I am considering retirement and want to know if I can save or transfer my GI Bill benefits?

A:  Yes you can do both, if you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill. But if you decide to make a transfer request, you have to do it while you are still in; once retired and you can’t make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request. The Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) does not have a dependent transfer option.

If you only have the one deployment (I assume it was for one year), then you will be at the 60% tier, meaning that whomever uses your Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, will only get 60% of the full benefit.

However, getting 60% of tuition and fees paid directly to the school and getting 60% of the housing allowance and book stipend is still better than nothing.

To initiate a transfer, go to the TEB website and make a request. Once approved, the individual receiving your transferred benefits can submit VA form 22-1990e through the VONAPP website. That individual will get back a Certificate of Eligibility that he/she will need when enrolling in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am an Army Reservist. I was told by my VA Rep at my school that because I applied for TA, I was no longer able to receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I have found some info about the subject, and I think that I would be covered under the “Top-Up” program? If so, would I still receive the BAH as entitled under the Post 9/11? Thanks for all your help!

A: Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill are in no way related to each other, so I don’t know what basis your VA Rep was using to tell you that. As far as the Top-Up program, it is true that servicemembers under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) are not authorized to use Top-Up, however, you have given up your rights to the MGIB-SR and opted for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in which you can use Top-Up.

Keep in mind when you use your Post 9/11 GI Bill, it will only pay at the tier percentage you have attained. In other words, if your deployment time put you at the 70% tier, then the Post 9/11 GI Bill will only pay 70% of your Top-Up amount and you would only get 70% of the housing allowance.

The payment structure is all dependent on your tier level and your tier level is dependent on how many months you have of qualifying active duty Title 10 service. So, the more months of deployments, the higher your tier percentage.

The Top-Up program is a great program, because it allows you to use your GI Bill entitlement at a slower rate than if you did not have Tuition Assistance helping you.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ron I was curious, what are the differences between MGIB and Post-9/11 GI Bill? How would you know if one’s eligible? I want to attend school in Nevada, how would I know if I can get the BAH or not within my GI Bill?

A:  All great questions! First, there are several differences between the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The major difference is what each will pay. The Post 9/11 GI Bill primarily pays for degree-producing courses, whereas the MGIB pays for the same thing, but it also includes, trade, technical, license and certification courses.

The other big difference is how they pay. The MGIB pays the student $1,426 per month to go to school and the student has to pay tuition, fees, books and all education-related expenses. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly for tuition and fees (up to the in-state maximum) and the student receives a monthly housing allowance (not BAH) and a book stipend of up to $1,000 per year.

The other major difference are delimiting dates, or the time you have to use up your GI Bill benefits. For the MGIB, it is 10 years, while it is 15 years under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as eligibility, to qualify for the New GI Bill, you have to serve at least 90 days after 10 September, 2001, to get the minimum benefit of 40%. Three years or more of service brings you to the 100% level.

To see if you qualify, go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1990. If you get back a Certificate of Eligibility, you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Or if you already have a school picked out, go see the school’s VA Certifying Official and have that person check to see if you qualify. If so, he/she can certify you on the spot.

For your last question, if your school is on the list of VA-approved schools, you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have an honorable discharge and you are not taking all online classes, you will get the housing allowance.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Do I have to live with my mom & step-dad in order to get benefits? I have been living with my mom & step dad for 10 months after they got married in Jan 2010. I recently filed a claim with a VA certification officer at my college and she said I was under Chapter 35. I was suppose to get like $900 per month and she also back-tracked me for the previous semester that I attended college because I did not claim or get benefits last semester. I didn’t know anything about GI Bill, but I was going to college full-time while my mom was remarried on Jan 7 2010. The school semester started January 20, 2010 & ended June 8th; then it started again Aug 30, 2010 and ends Dec 18th. But if I go to live with my grandmother will I still get benefits?

A: Yes you will still get benefits if you live with your grandmother. Chapter 35 does not dictate where you have to live, however, the VA has to know your address, so they know where to send your check.  Under Chapter 35, you can’t set up Direct Deposit, so you will get a check in the mail, hence them needing to know where to send it.

Under Chapter 35, you get 45 months of entitlement paid at $936 per month for a full-time student. Out of that you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. Going to school for 9 months per academic year, you have more than enough entitlement to get a four-year degree.  Good luck!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Am I able to add my son on as a dependent and receive more money monthly from my GI Bill? How can I receive more money monthly? I am going to school online so I do not receive the housing pay, and I do not work. I’m a stay-at-home mother, so I would think I would be able to get something, if not all, the housing pay. We cannot afford daycare, and if I work, there is nothing out here that would pay me enough to cover it. Thank you.

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents, so you wouldn’t get any more by adding him in, if you were getting housing allowance. My suggestion is to take one class per term at a local college. Just ensure the class you take counts toward your degree plan. That is all you have to do to get the housing allowance.

While it varies widely across the United States, as it is dependent on the zip code of the school, it averages $1,000 per month. On both the East and West Coasts, it is over $2,000 per month while in the Plains states, it is less than $1,000.

By taking only one class per term, you would only need a friend or family member to babysit while you are in the one class.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: The question I had was referring to the 9/11 GI Bill. I was wondering if I qualified for that program because I was a former service member, however, I didn’t complete a full year of service. I would really appreciate if someone could call me back and let me know a little more about this program and if there is anything that can assist me in furthering my education from my time served in the Army.

A: To qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to meet two requirements. You must have:

  • received an honorable discharge and;
  • served at least a minimum of 90 days of eligible service on active duty, after September 10, 2001.

Basic and AIT time does not count toward eligible time as both of these are considered training requirements and training time does not count. So figuring you probably had about 4 months of training time, you would have had to been in for at least 7 months to meet minimum eligibility requirements. Ninety days to six months of eligible time would put you at the 40% tier. If you ended up with over six good months, you would be at the 50% tier.

Those percentages are the portion of maximum tuition and fees the VA would pay your school for up to 36 months along with the portion you would get of the housing allowance and book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently getting the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the full housing allowance. Next semester, I only have 1 class to take, until I am enrolled in the RN program. Because I have to be full time to get the housing allowance, do classes that are not towards the degree plan count? I will have 1 class towards the degree, and 3 others that are just “filler” classes.

A:  No, all your classes have to apply towards you degree plan. The VA will only pay for a minimum number of classes to get you to graduation and the awarding of your degree. Any “filler” classes will be on your dime.

And just to be clear, you don’t have to be a full-time student to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance; just greater than half-time. The housing allowance is based on the zip code of your school and not on how many credits you take per se, so the amount you receive as a housing allowance will be the same whether your are just over the half-time mark or full-time. Also know that an online-only student does not get the housing allowance right now.

There are a couple of bills in Congress that if passed, would correct that oversight. I’ve never understood Congress’ reasoning on that issue (if there was one). An online student still has to have a place to live and food to eat, but somehow it was overlooked in the original Post 9/11 GI Bill. Amazing!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is there a link to the list to the pre-approved Chinese schools?

A: Yes there is! Just go to the Weams website and click on the COUNTRY button. Click on China from the drop-down menu and then click on the SUBMIT button. You will see a list of 16 schools come up. If the school you are looking at attending is not on the current list, you can ask the school if they would like to become a foreign VA-approved school.

If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a foreign student, you are paid differently than if you were attending school in the United States. The VA will pay up to $439.69 per credit for tuition and up to $13,713.88 per term for fees. You will get paid $1,311 per month in a housing allowance, along with the book stipend which is up to $1,000 per year.

If you use the Montgomery GI bill, then you get the fixed amount of $1,426 per month, but you have to pay your own tuition, fees, living expenses and other education-related expenses.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the Army in 2006 and gave up the MGIB for the Student Loan Repayment Program. I have recently reenlisted for another 5 years putting my ETS date near 2015. Because I gave up the MGIB back in ‘06, am I eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: You started to gain eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill sometime in 2009. When you signed up for SLRP, you incurred a three-year commitment. After serving those three years, you started to acquire eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You have about one-year of eligibility already putting you at the 60% tier right now; three years will get you to the 100% mark.

As long as you are still on active duty, you might want to consider using Tuition Assistance (TA). The Army will pay 100% of your tuition up to $250 per credit (with a $4,500 per year cap). If your per credit rate is more than what TA pays (or if you hit your annual cap early in the year), you can use the Tuition Top-Up program to pay what TA will not. While the Tuition Top-up amount does come out of your GI Bill entitlements, you use your GI Bill at a much slower rate than if you were not using TA.  Before using Top-Up though, I would advise you to wait until you are at the 100% level of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so you can get all of the difference paid by your GI Bill instead of just a percentage.