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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I used my MGIB to get my AAS Degree. I now would like to know how much of my MGIB is left in order to get my pilots license. The pilot school is multiple classes for a full time schedule of six months. It totals $56,000 dollars. How much, if any, would my MGIB cover.

A: You would have to check with the VA for sure to see how much Montgomery GI Bill entitlement you have left, but an AAS degree is usually a two-year program, so you should have used up about 18 months of entitlement, which means you should have about 18 months left.

The VA will not let you use your GI Bill to get your private pilot’s license. You have to already have it, or pay the cost yourself to get it first, before the VA will pay for further flight training.

The VA views getting a private pilot’s license more as an avocation rather than a vocation. Once you have your private pilot’s license, and you want to continue with flight school, then your GI Bill will pay up to 60% of the cost of a commercial pilot course as long as you have entitlement left to use.

So at 60%, the VA would theoretically pay up to $33,600 of your $56,000 flight training program, however, assuming you have 18 months of entitlement left,  that would amount to $25,668. So you have to be prepared to pay the difference between $56,000 and $25,668 (which is $30,332). Of course, if you have more or less months of entitlement left, that would alter both how much the VA and you would each have to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I was wondering, can the Post 9/11 GI Bill be used for schooling overseas? I know that there is an approved list on the website, but my desired program is not on the list. It is only a language program that lasts 8 weeks, and not actually a degree program. Thank you.

A:  Yes, the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be used at many foreign schools. As you noted there is a list on the Find A School website listing schools already VA approved.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is mainly geared toward students wanting to pursue a degree-producing program. It can be anything from an associate’s degree all the way up to a doctorate, but it generally will not pay for a non-degree standalone course, such as the one you are considering.

However, with that said, if your 8-week language course is part of your degree plan, and completion of the language program will count towards your graduation credits, then most likely it would be covered. If it is a standalone course, then most likely it will not be covered. You would want to get a VA approval ruling before enrolling if you plan to use your GI Bill to pay for the course.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Greetings, I served 8 years on active duty in the Air Force and another 15 years in the Reserves. My Air Force Reserve unit was activated from March 2003 to March of 2005. I retired from the Air Force Reserves in June of 2005. Am I eligible for any Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits that could be transferred to my college age daughters? Thanks.

A: As far as transferring the Post 9/11 GI Bill it to your daughters, that is a no-go. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, the servicemember had to be of the Armed Forces “on or after 1 August 2009” in order to make a transfer request.

If your two years of active duty were on a Title 10 contingency operation order, then yes you do qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement at the 80% level. If your active duty time was under 24 months, then you would qualify at the 70% level.

One issue which you did not mention was if you had the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) from your 8 years of active duty or the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) from your reserve time. Under the Rule of 48, you are limited to a combined maximum of 48 months of GI Bill benefits, if you qualify for multiple GI Bills.

If you had either of the two GI Bills, and never used them, or you never had either one, then you should have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement.

If you had either one and used some months of entitlement, then you will get the same number of months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement as the number of months you had left.

If you had either GI Bill, and used up your 36 months of entitlement, then you would most likely only get 12 additional months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit. If you had either of the MGIB GI Bills, then only the VA could tell you exactly what you have left for benefits.

So you are most likely eligible for some months Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for yourself, however you will not be able to transfer any of it to your daughters. Sorry!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently a full-time student at a private college working on my A.S. in Science, in their Veterinary Technology Program, using my Chapter 30 benefits. If I take a medical leave of absence from school, will my monthly payments stop until I return to school?

If so, are there any other benefits out there for that situation? I support my daughter and myself with just my monthly GI Bill payment. I have to make a decision soon as I have already missed a lot of school because of my medical issue. But there is no way I can take an LOA if my benefits would be put on hold. PLEASE HELP ME!!! The stress from this is seriously making my condition worse, and I’m not joking. Thank you.

A: I’m sorry to hear about your medical issue, but unfortunately you have to go to school to collect GI Bill benefits. Depending on how long you are out of school, and cannot attend due to your medical issue, you might want to consider requesting an extension of your delimiting date, if that date is approaching soon and you will lose benefits due to your medical issue.

A long-term medical issue is one of the reasons the VA will consider when deciding if you qualify or not for a delimiting date extension. Two others are recalled back to active duty or detained by a foreign power.

If you have a lot of time left before your reach your date, then it probably isn’t an issue. You have 10-years from your date of discharge to use up your Montgomery GI Bill entitlements.

I wish you the best of luck and take care of yourself.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from the Army in 2004. Can I transfer my GI Bill education benefits to my daughter?

A: If you have the Montgomery GI Bill, then no, because it never had a transfer option. If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then no again – at least for now. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a servicemember had to be on active duty “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request. That wording excluded thousands of veterans who met the Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility transfer requirement, but because they retired before July 31, 2009 they never had a chance to make a transfer.

So to right that wrong, Congress currently has a bill that would allow veterans, with 20 years or more of service, retiring between December 8, 2001 and August 1, 2009, the option to make a transfer request. I don’t know what the transfer procedure will look like yet, as the first hurdle is getting the bill passed. Ask your legislators to support H.R. 3577. Of course, if you had less than 20 years of service, the passage of this legislation won’t help you, but your support can still help thousands of other veterans.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to find out if I am eligible for the GI Bill? I was in the Army Reserves from 1995- 2002. I cannot remember if I have the benefits or where to find out that information.

A: Generally speaking, no you won’t have any GI Bill benefits to use, if you had been in Reserves the whole time. Servicemembers in the Guard and Reserves have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) which is only good as long as the servicemember stays in a Reserve Component. Once discharged, the benefit goes away. Also, even if you stay in the Reserves, you only have 10-years, from the date you became eligible, to use the benefit.

With that said, more and more Guardsmen and Reservists are qualifying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill,which they have 15-years to use after their date of discharge. If you were mobilized, you may qualify for at least the minimum benefit (40%) which requires 90-days of active duty after September 10, 2001, on a Title 10 contingency operation order. Many times those orders were for a year, which would bring you up to the 60% level.

You can apply for benefits by submitting VA Form 22-1990 either through the VONAPP website or by downloading the form and sending it in according to the instruction on the form.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was in the Army for three years, and qualified for the GI Bill. Now I have already used some of my benefits to get a BA degree, but have 7 months left of benefits. My question is can I still switch to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill since I do qualify for it? Am I only going to be able to be paid for the remaining 7 months of my benefits under the new GI Bill?

Somebody told me that if I use up all my Old GI Bill benefits, and then apply for the new GI Bill, I would be given one year of full benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Is this true? Thank you for all the information you can provide.

A:  Yes, you can switch to the New GI Bill at any time within your delimiting date. However, note that if you switch now, with 7 months of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits left, you will only get 7 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

If you use up your MGIB benefits first, and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can get the additional 12 months, but it may not be the full 100% benefit, like you referenced in your question. Which percentage you will get depends on how much active duty time you had after September 10, 2001. A minimum of 90-days of service will get you to the 40% level while three years or more will get you to the 100% level. Other periods of service between these two time-frames, will place you at a percentage somewhere between 40% and 100%.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was certified as of the 23rd of Aug 2010. We are now going into our fourth week of school for this semester and nothing (no money) from the VA yet. When I spoke to the VA rep at my school, she said I should see something within 3 weeks, my tuition can’t be covered until that money arrives, I paid for books out of my own pocket, which meant taking money I had budgeted for car insurance, three weeks later… Why is it taking so long?

A: During the fall term, the VA is overwhelmed with applications from new students just now starting school, in addition to all the returning students, so things slow down during this term. It normally takes the VA about 3 to 4 weeks to process an application, but it might be taking longer this term until they get caught up.

I understand your frustration, however, as I tell anyone who will listen, if you are a student starting school, you should have at least one semester’s worth of funds available that you can use to pay bills until you start getting your GI Bill payments.

Then, when you do start getting paid, you can use that money to replenish your funds. I’ve seen too many students with the false hope that the money from the VA will be there when they need it  and they end up in financial trouble right from the start.

Even after you start getting paid from the VA, your checks will always be a month behind when your bills are due, so you need at least a month’s worth of money at all time to tide you over.

I’m sorry I didn’t have better news, but this is the reason for your delay. After you get your first check, then the ones after should come about the same time each month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I transferred 9 months of my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my son who started college this year. The school VA counselor told us that, by certifying only 7 (58% of full time) of the credits he is taking we could apply the remaining 42% to the following year and effectively extend his BAH eligibility by roughly 4 months beyond the 9 months I initially transferred. I can’t find anything on the VA help site to confirm this – are they right?

A: Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement use is figured by how many credits a student takes per full month of school. So if a school considers 12 credits to be full-time, and a student is taking 12 credits, then the student would use up one month of entitlement per month of school. However, if that same student is only taking 7 credits per term, then he/she only uses up 7/12th of a month of entitlement for each full month of school or about 17.5 days instead of 30 days.

So it is true your son would get the same amount of money for his Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance whether he takes 7 credits or 12, and by only using up 17.5 days per month of entitlement instead of 30 days per month, it would extend the amount of time it takes to use his up his entitlement.

However, if he is certified at 7 credits, the VA will only pay his tuition/fees and book stipend at 7 credits, so if your son is taking more than 7 credits, he or you will have to pay the tuition and fees for those extra credits. The Law changed to this process in Jul 09.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently a dependent on the Alabama GI Bill, but I am thinking of transferring to a Florida school. Will I be able to switch from the Alabama GI to the Florida GI?

A: I’m assuming you are going to school in Alabama under the GI Dependents’ Scholarship Program. Florida does have a similar program – Education for Children of Deceased or Disabled Florida Veterans – however, the eligibility requirements are different between the two programs. If you are going under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then it is the same regardless of which state your are attending school.

First, and probably the one that will stop you from getting into the Florida Program, is you have to be a resident of Florida as does your servicemember sponsor. So if you and your sponsor are not both Florida residents, you won’t get into the program.

There are also disability percentage differences between the two states’ programs. In Alabama, the veterans have to be at least 20% service-connected disabled, where in Florida, it has to be 100%. Even if you are both Florida residents, this could be a huge issue depending on your sponsor’s disability rating.

I do not know your reason for wanting to transfer to a school in Florida, but I recommend you do your homework first before making a change. Otherwise, it could end up costing you  a lot of money out of your pocket.