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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have tried to contact you on the phone but could not get through. I want to check on the status of my G.I. Bill benefits because I have not received them yet for this semester. This is not my first semester to be on the G.I. Bill and as far as I know my benefits have not run out. If you could please look up my information and let me know as soon as possible I would appreciate it. Thank you

A: Just so you know, we are not the VA, nor are we connected in any way to the VA, so I do not have any means to look anything up on your behalf. However, I can provide a couple of reasons why you may not have received your GI Bill benefits for this semester.

If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your school may not have submitted a Certificate of Enrollment to the VA. If they didn’t, you won’t get paid as that form, along with your Certificate of Eligibility, is what triggers the payment cycle to begin. Ask your school Certifying Official when he/she sent in your enrollment certificate.

If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you know you have to verify your attendance each month using the WAVE system and your school has to verify your enrollment.

Two, as you mentioned, you might have run out of entitlement. Depending how many months you had to begin with, how many months you have used so far, and if you used any up while on active duty by using the Top-Up program, you may have exhausted them faster than you anticipated.

The VA is the only one that can tell you how many months of entitlement you have left and why you are not getting paid. Try contacting one of their State or Regional Offices as they are usually more responsive.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My mortgage company has asked me for some type of statement that tells the amount of my BAH every month. Is there such a statement and how do I obtain it? I am retired from the Army and am receiving BAH through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. Thank You.

A: I’m not aware of any statement you can get monthly, however you should get a statement after the end of each semester, showing the breakdown of the Post 9/11 GI Bill payments the VA both paid to you and on your behalf to your school.

Also, just to clarify terms, what you are getting from the VA is a housing allowance and not BAH; the VA is not authorized to pay BAH. While the BAH Calculator is used to determine how much you will get as a housing allowance, yours is paid at the fixed pay grade of an E-5 with dependents for the zip code of your school.

You should also be receiving a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit, if you are at the 100% level. If not, then it will be paid at your tier level percentage of $41.67.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My mother served in the Army Reserves for 23 years and retired in 08. Would she qualify for the GI Bill? If so would she be able to give the benefits to her son or daughter, who are attending college at this time? I ask because she is not interested in going back to school and she wants to see if she does qualify and if she would be able to give the benefits to her children instead?

A: Servicemembers in the Reserves and National Guard get the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) while they are serving. The MGIB-SR has either a 10 or 14-year delimiting date, meaning if they don’t use their GI Bill benefits within that period of time while they are still serving, they lose it. The same thing happens if they get out before hitting their delimiting date; they lose their GI Bill benefits.

So with your mother getting out in 2008, after 23 years of service, she no longer had any MGIB-SR education benefits left.

However, she might have some Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, if she deployed after September 10, 2001 on an active duty Title 10 contingency operation order lasting at least 91 days or more.

But at the present time, she can’t transfer those benefits. The window for transferring did not open until 1 August 2009 and she was already retired by that time.

But all is not lost. There is a bill in the House right now that would make it possible for your mother to make a transfer of entitlement, providing it passes. Contact your legislators and ask their support of bill H.R. 3577.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I submitted to transfer my credits to my daughter, but have not heard anything and I’m having a hard time locating someone to help.

A: I couldn’t get a sense of how long it has been since you submitted your Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request, but if it has been less than 8 weeks, I would not get too excited yet. The VA is overwhelmed this time of year with all the new students starting school in addition to returning students.

I’m assuming you made the transfer request using the TEB website, and that is where you will have to go to check on the status. Once you submitted it, the Status block changed to “Pending”. Now you will want to go back periodically and watch for that to change to “Approved” and a date in the Status Date block.

Once you see the status change to approved, your daughter can submit VA Form 22-1990e to get her Certificate of Eligibility. She will need that certificate when she enrolls in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. I was in Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq. I got discharged in 2006. Now, I want to use GI Bill to go to school and I’m about to get married too. Will my new wife will be eligible for any of the GI Bill benefits? Thanks.

A: No, because she does not have any transferred benefits of her own (and you can’t make a transfer now that you are out of the Guard) and she is not a veteran having her own GI Bill, she will not have any GI Bill benefits. You, on the other hand, most likely have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits due to your deployment to Iraq, if it was at least 91 days or longer. If your deployment was for one-year, you would be at the 60% tier. Less than 12 months puts you at the 50% tier.

Just because your wife does not have any GI Bill benefits, there are still lots of other sources of money she can get to go to school, such as scholarships, grants and loans. I suggest she fills out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get an idea of what student financial aid she would qualify for. Thousands of students not having any GI Bill benefits go to school each year and they manage to pay for their education. My point is there is money available, but it will require some work to find it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is that I start school on Nov 15 and I’m accepted for Post 9/11 GI Bill. When will I receive my payment for BAH. Will I get it the beginning of Nov. or Dec. 1st?

A: Just so all of us are clear on terms, you don’t get BAH with the Post 9/11 GI Bill – you get a housing allowance paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents based off of the zip code of your school. As far as when you will get it, and with you starting school in mid-November, I would not expect you to see your first payment until mid-December at the earliest. You might not see anything until after the first of the year.

Once you start getting paid, then your check or Direct Deposit will be around the same time each month. You need to have at least a semester’s worth of money in the beginning to carry you through until you start getting paid.

With GI Bill payments, you are always a month behind in getting paid, so you always need at least a months-worth of funds available so you can pay your bills. Then use your GI Bill money to replenish your funds.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in the Army in 2008 for four years and I got the GI Bill. Can I reenlist now can I get the SLRP?

A: In the Army, no. The Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is an enlistment incentive option,  and not a reenlistment option, so it is offered only at the first enlistment. Because you opted for the Montgomery GI Bill, you didn’t get SLRP as you can’t have both for the same enlistment period.

However, both the Army Reserve and National Guard have a prior service SLRP that pays up to  $20,000. Once you are finished with your Army commitment, you might look at joining one of the Reserve Components for three years to take advantage of their SLRP.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I used my Montgomery GI Bill, can I qualify for any other type of educational benefits with honorable discharge?

A: Depending on when you served, you may qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You would have had to serve at least 90-days on an active duty Title 10 order after September 10, 2001, to meet the minimum qualifications and to get the minimum benefit of 40%. The full 100% benefit takes three years or more.

Because you already had the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), and if you exhausted all your MGIB benefits, then you would get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. If you have not exhausted all of your MGIB and switched, then you would get the same number of Post 9/11 GI Bill months of benefit as you had left under the MGIB.

Also, check with your State Veterans Affairs Office. Most states offer various state-funded education options to their veterans.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Will I be able to keep my MGIB if I were to take a family care plan chapter?

A: The Family Care Plan Chapter discharge in itself won’t have an effect on your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – it is how they characterize your term of service that will determine if you are eligible to use your GI Bill or not. Anything less than fully Honorable, will nix your GI Bill. Ask your chain of command how they plan to characterize your service before you get discharged. They should be open and honest with you about what they plan to do.

If they are going to give you a bad character of service, then make sure you have explored all your family care options. Consider the ramifications before doing this though, if it will affect your GI Bill.

If you do take a bad character of service, and you think you can prove it is wrong, you can appeal it by submitting DD Form 293 to the Board of Corrections and ask to change it to Honorable. They are never any guarantees they will change it, and it can take up to six months to get a decision, but at least it is an avenue of appeal.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Looking to join the Army Reserves. I was offered the basic drill pay, GI Bill ($329 month) kicker (was told to be $350). My question is if I can combine these with the $40,000 SLRP (I own about $22,000). I was told yes, but to make sure?

A: In the Reserves, you can get both the Montgomery GI Bill- Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) and Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) for the same six-year enlistment period. Before you sign up for SLRP, make sure your loans qualify for repayment. Eligible loans include:

  • Auxiliary Loan Assistance for Students (ALAS);
  • Stafford Student Loan, formerly know as the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL);
  • Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Must be incurred for the use of the individual contracting for the program (not others such as relatives);
  • Consolidated Loan Program. Only covers the member’s education expenses;
  • Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL);
  • Perkins Loan, formerly known as the National Direct Student Loan (NDSL);
  • Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)

If you have anything other than these, they may not qualify for repayment. Also ask about the $40,000 figure you were given. I know the figure changes periodically, but from what I’m seeing now, the Army Reserve SLRP is paying up to $20,000.

My advice is to get everything you are promised in writing. If your recruiter can’t put it in writing, then it probably isn’t true. Also, drill pay went up as of October 1st. It is now $337 per month.