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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My daughter has been using my Post 9/11 GI Bill since March and has been getting her BAH every month, but not for October. She has 12 months of it so she still should be receiving it. Is there a delay because of budget or beginning of fiscal year? Who can I call to sort this out? Thanks!

A: It is most likely because the VA gets backlogged processing GI Bill applications during the fall term. Most new students start during this term along with all the returning students, so it takes the VA awhile to process all the applications. If she doesn’t see a payment by the end of the first week of November, then I would call, or have her call, the VA and ask why she had not received her payment. Sometimes by contacting either one of the VA’s State or Regional Offices, you get a faster response.

I agree, if she had 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and has only used them since March, she should still have benefits left. Give it another couple of weeks and see what happens.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father is actively in the Army right now and I would like to know if I am eligible to receive his benefits? He has been in the military for over 20 years.

A: It depends on two things:

  • which GI Bill we are talking about;
  • your legal dependent status with your father.

If you are talking about your father’s Montgomery GI Bill, then most likely you are not eligible to use his benefits as that GI Bill did not have a dependent transfer option. If you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then yes you could be eligible.

I say could in that you have to be a legal dependent of your father. So if you are not biologically his, as in adopted or a step-child, then he would have to go through the legal process to formally make you one of his dependents and get you listed correctly in DEERS.

Assuming you are a legal dependent already, then he could transfer to you any or all of his unused Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements. Just keep in mind he has to make the transfer request while he is still on active duty; after he is out, it is too late.

If he makes a transfer and it is approved, then you would have to submit VA form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility that you need when you enroll in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can the GI Bill compensate me for aircraft dispatcher training course? I wish to continue my training as an aircraft dispatcher & hopefully hold a license. Thank you.

A: The Montgomery GI Bill would probably cover this type of training, plus if you have enough GI Bill entitlements left after your training, you could get reimbursed up to $2,000 per license test and it includes retests also, if you don’t pass the first time.

On the other hand, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would most likely not pay for your course, however, it could reimburse you one time up to the same amount for your test. The Post 9/11 GI Bill focuses toward degree-producing courses and generally does not pay for any type of non-degree, license or certification training.

However, with that said, if you find your course taught at an accredited institution of higher learning degree-producing school, i.e college or university, your training may be covered. That would be a determination by the VA, but I recommend you get approval to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill for this course prior to enrolling.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the process of applying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and am planning on letting my daughter utilize a portion of my benefits. I have 6 years active, 2 yrs EAD, and 18 months involuntary since 9/11, for a total of 23 yrs total combined service and still drilling. My question is, I paid $1,200.00 into the Montgomery GI Bill back when I was on my first tour of active duty in 8/86 and was wondering, since I haven’t utilized any benefits yet if the $1,200.00 can be returned to me? Back in the day, $100.00 a month was a lot of money. Thanks

A: To answer your question, I’m not sure. I do know the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules read that when the veteran has the Montgomery GI Bill and switches to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he/she gets back their $1,200 once all the Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements are exhausted. The $1,200 comes as part of the last housing allowance check. It also goes on to say the VA can’t ignore the statute if the individual is not receiving a housing allowance.

However, the part that concerns me is your MGIB expired years ago and the regulation does not specifically address that part. I know the VA factors in entitlements used from an expired MGIB when they figure out combined benefits of 48 months, but whether they factor in your expired MGIB in this situation, I don’t know.

The regulation is somewhat convoluted (as most of them are) and I ask that you contact the VA for their determination in this situation.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is a Reservist. He signed a 6-year contract, I believe. He has the $40,000 student loan repayment. He never went to college. Can he transfer that to me to repay my education loans? If so, would we just complete the DD 2475 with my information? He has been in for 1 year and we got married a month ago. My repayment begins next month.

A:  No he can’t use his Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) to pay back your loans. The main reason is the loans are not his in the eyes of the military. While he may have inherited them as part of marriage, they were not his at the time he enlisted. As additional information, only the following types of loans, made under the Higher Education Act of 1964, qualify for repayment:

  • Stafford Loan Program (formerly Guaranteed Student Loans (GSL);
  • Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL);
  • Perkins Loan (formerly National Defense Student Loan and National Direct Student Loans (NDSL);
  • Auxiliary Loans to Assist Students (ALAS);
  • Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS);
  • Consolidated Loan Program (CLP);
  • SMART Loans.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How much money I will get through my GI Bill, if I finished 3 years of active service with the Army?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are referencing. If you paid into the Montgomery GI Bill, you will have 36 months of entitlement that would pay you $1,426 per month to go to school. Out of that money, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses.

If you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you will still have 36 months of benefits, but I really can’t tell you how much it will pay due to the number of variables.

The VA would pay your school directly for your tuition and eligible fees up to the in-state maximum based on the state where you school is located. The amounts for tuition and fees differ in each state and territory.

You would get a monthly housing allowance paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents based on the zip code of your school. The housing allowance averages around $1,000 per month, but it can be much lower or higher depending on your school’s location. The housing allowance amount on the East and West Coasts are about double the average, whereas some of the Plains states are lower.

You would also get paid $41.67 per semester credit up to a maximum of $1,000 per year, which is enough for about 24 credits. Because I do not know your school’s zip code, I provided you with the links so you can look up the information yourself. Good luck!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What about a General discharge under honorable conditions? Are they eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and where can I look up the regulations in full so I can print them and read them myself?

A: A general discharge would prevent you from using your GI Bill education benefits – only an honorable would allow you to keep them. There are several places on the VA website that reference needing an honorable or other qualifying type of discharge to use GI Bill benefits. One document says “Veterans must have an honorable discharge or other qualifying discharge (e.g. hardship, condition interfering with duty, etc.) to be eligible.”

Here is a clip from another document that talks about needing an honorable discahrge:“ Who is eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

Eligible individuals include those who serve on active duty at least 90 aggregate days beginning on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days of continuous service. (Discharged individuals must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible, or have a discharge or release for a medical condition Existing Prior to Service (EPTS), Hardship (HDSP), or Condition Interfering with Duty (CIWD).”

These are just two of the many documents that reference the need for an Honorable discharge to retain GI Bill education benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am 35 weeks pregnant and I am looking to get out on a Chapter 8. My chain of command did not counsel me until the last minute. Now it is crunch time and it might be too late to get out on a Chapter 8 because I need to be separated 30 days prior to my due date, which takes me to next Tues. I don’t have orders or clearing papers yet. Seems impossible. So they offered me to get out on a Chapter 5 – parenthood chapter. Will I lose my benefits? Will I have to pay my reenlistment bonus back? Legal does not even have answers for me. I want to make sure I do not get pushed over in this situation.

A:  With a Chapter 5, there are two types of discharges authorized – Honorable and General. If your command gives you a General, you lose your GI Bill education benefits. With an Honorable you keep you GI Bill months of entitlement so you can go to school. Ask them what their intent is as far as the type of discharge they plan to give you.

I can’t comment on whether you will have to pay back your reenlistment bonus or not as that is not my area of expertise. However, I do know in certain situations, it may be pro-rated and you could possibly have to pay a portion of it back. You would have to talk to a Reenlistment NCO or Career Counselor for a definite reading.

Also, if you do end up with a General discharge, you can appeal it by submitting DD Form 293 to the Board of Corrections. There isn’t a guarantee they would change it to Honorable, and it can take up to six months to get a decision, but at least it is an avenue to try. Hopefully, you will get an Honorable and not have to worry about it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was looking at the Montgomery and the New GI Bill and it seems to be that the new GI Bill is better. Why do they still keep the Montgomery when the new GI Bill benefits look better? Can you explain to me the real difference between them?

A: In many cases the New GI Bill is better, but it is also more selective in the programs it will cover. The Post 9/11 GI Bill generally covers only degree-producing courses from an associate’s degree up through doctorate. On the other hand, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) covers degree-producing courses along with:

  • trade or technical;
  • license;
  • certification;
  • apprentice/OJT.

So it really comes down to your individual education objective. Even with degree-producing courses, in certain instances the MGIB may pay better than the Post 9/11 GI Bill, especially if you are:

  • taking online-only courses or;
  • going to a school that does not charge veterans tuition.

So the MGIB is still a very valid GI Bill to many servicemembers and veterans alike. There is at least one bill in Congress that would broaden what the Post 9/11 GI Bill could cover, providing it passes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My late ex-husband was a Vietnam vet, he served 4 years & 4 months in the Navy in the 60s…Is our 17 year old son eligible to use his father’s G I Bill? The VA did tell me to contact them when Mark was ready for college back when I first contacted them after his father’s death.

A: Without more information, I can only speculate, however, it sounds like the VA may have reason to believe Mark is eligible for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. If your ex-husband was permanently and totally disabled, and it was rated as service-connected, then Mark should qualify.

If so, then he could get 45 months of entitlements to go to school. The monthly pay for a DEA recipient currently is $936 for a full-time student. Out of that money, he would have to pay his tuition, fees and other education-related expenses.

If Mark gets DEA benefits, he has from age 18 to 26 to use those benefits. Any unused benefits at age 26 are lost. If he does not qualify for DEA, there are many different kinds of scholarships, grants and loans available for school. A good place to start is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what he would qualify for as far as student financial assistance.