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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I am already enlisted, and my recruiter did not include the CLRP in my contract or even mention it and I have outstanding student loan, how can I get it added on?

A:  Whether your recruiter told you about College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) or not could depend on if you declined the GI Bill or not at enlistment. If you enlisted for three years and accepted the GI Bill, then there was no point in offering CLRP. CLRP has a three-year payback and you can’t get both CLRP and the GI Bill for the same period of time.

If you enlisted for six years, then you could have been offered both as you would have had time to pay back your CLRP three-year commitment and still have three years of eligible time for the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill.

If you did decline the GI Bill, then CLRP might not have been available at the time you enlisted. Because the program is an enlistment incentive, if your service branch did not need the enlistment numbers for that month, they might not have been offering it. Also, CLRP only covers certain federally-insured student loans and yours may not have been covered anyway.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:  I am using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My tuition is fully paid, but my housing isn’t. Isn’t housing a fee? Why isn’t it covered? I know I will be getting BAH, but the housing fees will take all of it. Is there some other program I should look into?

Also my BAH comes after my bill and the financial service lady says my classes will be dropped if not paid by the date even though she knows it’s coming. Isn’t there a waiver?!! I am stressing out about this. I thought it was all taken care of. I wasn’t aware that I would have to spend around $10,000 for school. Please tell me some good news.

A: Eligible fees paid by the VA are fees that are mandatory – fees that all students, or students in a particular degree program, pay. Because you are not required to live in a college dorm, and many students do not, room and board is not a covered fee.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is meant to pay for housing, so if you are in a dorm and paying both room and board, I’m not surprised your housing allowance is not covering all of your room and board; it was only designed to cover rent.

As far as the timing of when you receive your housing allowance, the way the payment process is structured, you are always a month behind in getting paid. While most rent is due around the first of each month, you don’t get your housing allowance until the first or second week of each month.

The point is you need some funds up front to cover your expenses. When you get your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, you can use that money to replenish your funds. The Post 9/11 GI bill is a very good educational assistance program, but that is all it was ever meant to be – an assistance program. It was never designed to pay for everything up front.

As far as a waiver – there isn’t any, however, most schools are flexible with your payment schedule if they know you (and they) will get paid by the GI Bill, but they don’t have to make special arrangements for you. As I said, you should have enough funds available to pay your bills on time and then use your Post 9/11 GI Bill money to replenish your funds.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a veteran attending college using my Montgomery GI Bill(MGIB). As many have found, its sometimes difficult making ends meet financially with the GI Bill alone. I am eligible for my father’s Chapter 35 Education Benefits. Can I use both Chapter 35 and MGIB at the same time? Thank you.

    A: No you can’t use both at the same time, however, you may get some extra months of entitlements by qualifying for both. With your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), you get 36 months of education entitlements. Under the VA’s Rule of 48, if you qualify for more than one GI Bill, you can get a combined maximum of 48 months, so you could get 12 months from Chapter 35. To get those additional 12 months, you would have to first exhaust your MGIB and then apply for Chapter 35. Just so you know, the pay will be less for Chapter 35 and you will have to use those benefits up by your 26th birthday. For the MGIB, you would be getting around $1,368 per month if you go to school full-time. Under Chapter 35, you would get around $964 per month.

    Just so you know, the GI Bill was never meant to live off of; it was meant as an educational assistance program to help veterans and servicemembers get a post-secondary education.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: How is the housing allowance figured for online schools? I live in Dallas, but I am taking classes at University of Phoenix. Will I get BAH based on my HOR or the zip of the school?

    A: Neither, as the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance (BAH) is not authorized for online-only students. The way around that is to take at least one class pertaining to your degree plan per term at a local college. If you take a class per term, then your housing allowance is based on the zip code of your local school.

    There are a couple bills in Congress that would change that and allow online-only student the housing allowance or at least a partial amount.

    H.R. 3577 would authorize online-only students 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance. S.3447 also has a provision in it to authorize online-only students the housing allowance, but at the 50% rate, in addition to corrrecting five other issues with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Contact your legislators and as them to support these two bills.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: If I was in the Army for less than 120 days, but got an honorable discharge, am I still entitled to the GI Bill?

    A: Probably not as much of your 120 days were more than likely spent as training time, which doesn’t count towards GI Bill eligibility unless you have served at least 36 months, at which point training time does count.

    If you had at least 90-days of your time in the Army that was not spent in Basic Training or Advance Individual Training (AIT), then yes, that time would count. You only need 90-days to attain minimum eligibility of the Post 9/11 GI Bill which would put you at the 40% tier.

    At the Post 9/11 GI Bill 40% level, the VA would pay 40% of your tuition and eligible fees, up to the in-state maximum, and you would get up to $400 of the $1,000 book stipend and housing allowance. The book stipend is paid at the rate of 40% of the $41.67 per credits. To get the housing allowance, you would have to maintain a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time (normally 7 credits or more) and take at least one class (pertaining to your degree plan) per term on campus.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: If my husband has met the qualifications to attain Post 9/11 GI Bill, however, he spent last eleven years as a reservist and is currently retired, can his GI Bill benefits be transferred to me to attend school?

    A: No, he can’t make a transfer now that he is retired. Any Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of entitlements has to be done while the servicemember is still in the Armed Forces (Reserves, Guard or active).

    As I said for right now, transferring is not an option after retiring, however, that would change if H.R. 950 bill passes. That bill would allow Post 9/11 GI Bill retirees, with at least 20 years of Armed Forces service who retired between December 9, 2001 and July 31, 2009, the option to  make a transfer of entitlements to dependents.

    With eleven years of service, it probably won’t help in your husband’s case, but it will for others. Also note, as a reservists eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a transferee would only get the same level of VA payment support as the tier level the reservist making the transfer. For example, if the servicemember is at the 70% tier, that is the same percentage the VA would pay for those having transferred benefits from that servicemember.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: Ch. 33 Question: I just want to make sure what my school’s VA office is doing is legit. I went in today to sign this Student Responsibility Agreement to ensure that I receive payment from the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m currently enrolled in 16 units this semester, but they told me to initial off on the part of the form where it says that they’ll certify me for anywhere from 7-9 units, instead of my actual 16.

    They said this is a loophole that gives me less money from my book stipend, but extends time onto my Ch. 33 GI Bill, so I will technically get more money out of it. I can’t find anything online regarding this practice and it sounds kind of shady, but this is the VA office at my school and I have to assume that they have my best interests at heart. Is this practice normal and is it recommended by you?

    The only other question that I had that I feel may be a smart use of my Chapter 33 benefit is regarding getting certified or paid during the breaks between semesters. I have about 18 months of entitlements remaining, but about 30 months until I graduate. It seems to me that I should not get paid over any breaks that I have because I’m exhausting the time remaining with a BAH payment, but not getting the full BAH and tuition payment. Is this true? –Dale

    I’ll answer your second question first. Your line of thinking is right concerning not getting paid over the breaks, however, the VA will automatically pay you for them unless you tell them not to.

    Your other question does not make any sense to me at all. Your Post 9/11 GI Bill book stipend is paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit up to $1,000 per year, which equates to 24 credits. So when you reach the $1,000 mark, your book stipend will end for the year. Whether you get paid for 18 credits or 9 this semester really doesn’t matter in the end, because you will max out your book stipend amount anyway.

    And as far as the VA paying for tuition  and fees, they will pay up to the maximum amount per credit for the number of credits you take per semester. A full month of entitlement is used up for each full month of school and at the end of 36 months, your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement will run out.

    Your housing allowance isn’t affected by how many credits you take either . As long as you are considered a greater-than-half-time student, you get the full amount, so 18 credits doesn’t get you anymore or less than 7 to 9 credits.

    As far as my recommendation, I would play it straight with the VA. If you are taking 18 credits then certify off on 18 credits. When it comes to money and the Federal Government, deception is never a good thing.  I can’t figure out that VA Rep’s reasoning, but myself, I would not condone it.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: I enlisted in the military in September 03, 1998 and I got out March 15, 2008. All those years were active duty. As a question, is my wife eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer?

    A: No she isn’t. According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules, you would have to have made your transfer request “on or after 1 August 2009” as the Bill rules read, plus you did not have enough service time to qualify anyway.

    Before you could make a transfer request, even if you were still on active duty, you would have had to serve at least six years (which you had) and sign up for an additional four years. If you were within four years of being retirement eligible (20 years or more), then the amount of additional time required would have been prorated down from something less than four years down to no additional time required.

    It all depends on how many years you have left until you are retirement eligible. They use the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option as a retention tool to try and to keep servicemembers in the military by offering you the transfer option as a carrot-on-a-stick incentive to stay.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: To whom it may concern: I am a National Guard Soldier who has just re-deployed from Iraq. I served on active duty prior to entry into the Guard and I paid into the GI Bill. I really need the GI Bill to benefit my children, as I am most likely finished with my education. How can I get them enrolled so that when they are ready, than can take advantage of the program? Thanks.

    A: When you were on active duty the first time, you had the Montgomery GI Bill. If you served out your enlistment, then you had 36 months of the GI Bill available, however, from your question, I can’t tell if you used any or not. Having the MGIB, won’t do your children any good, due to the fact that it does not have a transfer option.

    If you had a one-year deployment with the National Guard, then, you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 60% level. If you never used your any of your MGIB, you would have 36 months available that you could transfer to your children. If you use some of your MGIB, then you will only get the same number of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as you had left with the MGIB.

    To make a transfer, go to the TEB website. Your children have to be listed correctly in DEERS. If you are not able to indicate how many months you want to transfer to each child, then either their record is not right in DEERS or you are not showing as being eligible to make a transfer.

    If you can enter months in each record, once you submit the request, watch for the status to change to “Approved”. Once that happens, and it will take up to a few weeks for that to happen, each child needs to submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his/her Certificate of Enrollment. They will need the certificate when enrolling in school. Keep in mind, each child’s payment will be at the 60% level because that is the level you are at.

    Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

    Q: How do I know if my husband still has the ability to get the education GI Bill and if it can be transferred to his wife, me, or my children or grandchildren? Will it cover The Institute of Children’s Literature or one of the colleges of the United States?How much does he have coming if any? Thank you.

    Your question is very vague, so I can’t give you a definite yes or no answer. First is your husband still active? Second, which GI Bill are you talking about, as there are more than one?

    The only GI Bill that has a transfer option is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To be able to transfer it to a dependent child or spouse (grandchildren are not covered, unless the grandparent formally adopts them), the servicemember must have served at least six years on active duty, with at least three years after September 10, 2001, and sign-up for an additional four years. Once the servicemember is discharged, making a transfer is not possible.

    The Institute of Children’s Literature is not listed in the VA’s list of approved schools, so that may not be an school option or it may be listed under a different name. From your question, I don’t know if you are talking about colleges of the United States in general, or specifically a school called The Colleges of the United States? I did not see a specific school with that title listed, but the Post 9/11 GI Bill does cover hundreds (and probably thousands) of colleges in the United States, including the territories, along with many overseas colleges and universities.