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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from active duty in 2006 after 21 years of service. I have the Montgomery GI Bill. I used it for one semester of school and I would like to know if I can use my GI Bill for my dependent children to attend college. If so, how do I go about it?

A:  Unfortunately, the Montgomery GI Bill does not have a transfer option to it, so you can’t transfer that GI Bill to your children.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has a transfer option, and you would qualify to convert to that GI Bill, but it has the stipulation you have to make your transfer request while you are still on active duty, so that isn’t an option right now either.

However, there is a bill in the House of Representatives right now that would allow you, and so many others, to transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill remaining benefits even though you are currently retired. Write your Representatives from your state and ask them to support and pass H.R. 3577.

The issue is one of the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules is you have to have been on active duty on or after August 1, 2009 to make a transfer. But because you retired three years earlier then that date, but you still meet the Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility transfer requirements, you never had an opportunity to make a transfer. The passage of H.R. 3577 would correct that and allow you to make a transfer.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband transferred his GI benefits to our daughters.  They registered and turned in all paperwork to their school 5 weeks ago.  How soon should they be getting their book stipend and housing allowance?

A:  When you say all paperwork, did that include their Post 9/11 GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility for each of them that they received back after each sent in their VA Form 22-1990e? When their Certificate of Eligibility and the school’s Certificate of Enrollment match up at the VA, that is the trigger to start their book stipend and housing allowance pay coming. The first check may take 8 to 10 weeks to receive. After that, it should come around the first part of each month and will be pay for the previous month. The pay is always a month behind.

So this means your daughters should have enough funds available when they start school to carry them through the first 3 months of school – until their Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits start arriving.

As you know, their book stipend will be paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit, up to $1,000 per year, and their GI Bill housing allowance will be based on the zip code of their school and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What’s the requirement for requesting Post-9/11 GI Bill after exhausting MGIB? Hi, I have 10months left on my old GI Bill and have enrolled in a local university for classes. I was thinking of changing to the Post-9/11 GI Bill but read on the GI Bill website that there is the option of exhausting the old bill and the requesting Post-9/11. Do you know how this works? I was AF active duty from 1999 to 2005 and was honorably discharged. Thanks.

A: Yes I do know how it works. Once you have exhausted your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), send in a new VA Form 22-1990 indicating you want to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once your  MGIB benefits are exhausted, you will get 12 additional months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

If you run out of MGIB benefits mid-term, the VA will “loan” you the months and days you need to get you to the end of the term. Then they will subtract that amount from your additional 12 months. So when you see it, it might be less than 12 months, but now you will know why, if that happens to you. If you have enough MGIB benefits to run you to the end of the term, then you should see the full 12 months.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I transfer schools while receiving Post 9/11GI Bill? If I get a degree in a year and a half, can I still continue receiving benefits as long as I stay in school?

A: Yes, you can transfer schools while using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Just send in a new VA Form 22-1990 indicating where you will go to school. I would advise against trying to change schools during a term because that really mixes things up as far as which school gets paid what, but you can certainly change schools between terms.

You originally had 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement, so you can go to school until you run out of entitlement, however, you will most likely have to submit a new degree plan which shows you are working toward a higher degree than what you already have. The VA will not let you aimlessly take classes just to use up your entitlements. You should have a progressive plan where you are always working toward the next higher degree.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I just recently relocated to South Carolina after being medically discharged from the Army in July 2010. To date I have not received my first disability check not to mention any monies for school/books. My first day of class was yesterday and I have assignments that are due but no books to complete these assignments due to NO MONEY!!! Who do I contact to find out where my monies are for both DISABILITY AND SCHOOLING. Please give me resources that will actually give me answers and time frames as to when I can expect my monies. I have used up what savings I had. I need some answers, PLEASE!

A: I can’t talk about your disability payment because I only handle GI Bill-related issues, but I can tell you your first Post 9/11 GI Bill payment will take 8 to 10 weeks. After you get your first check, then you should get a check the first part of each month for payment for the previous month. You will always be a month behind in getting paid.

You should have been advised to have enough money in reserve to live on for at least the first semester before you started school. If you started school in August, you won’t see any GI Bill money until at least early November. That check should include the few days of August, and all of September and October.

You can contact the VA at 1-888-GIBILL1. Sometimes, you can get a quicker response by contacting one of their State or Regional Offices. Good luck.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m highly interested in pursuing graduate studies at Oxford University. Oxford is listed on the US Veterans Benefits “approved schools” list for the GI Bill, but it does not list detailed information on how much is funded for study in Oxford. I found the following on the VA site: # $1,333 is the monthly housing rate. # The foreign tuition rate is $408.09 per credit # and the payable fees are $10,502.97 per term. 1. What is considered to be “payable fees”? 2. If Tuition at Oxford costs approximately $19,000, with College fees of $3500, and living fees of $15,000 (approximately $37,000 total) for a year of study, how would I apply the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to each category? Please let me know. Thank you!

A: Payable fees are the mandatory fees your school charges students and it can range from health-care fees, library fee, student activity fee, lab fees, etc. The amounts you quoted for tuition and housing allowance are correct, however in October, the new chart will come out which could change the amounts.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA will pay your school up to $408.09 per credit in tuition. So you would have to take how many credits you are taking per year and multiply that by $408.09. Whatever that amount is under $19,000 is what you would have left to pay. As far as fees, the VA would pay your school the full $3,500 in fees because it is under the maximum foreign school amount. For your housing allowance, you would get $1,333 per month, so considering a 9-month academic year, that would amount to $11,997. You would also get the $1,000 per year book stipend. So for 24 credits per year, this is what it looks like:

Tuition – $408.09 X 24 credits per year = $9,815.28

Fees – $3,500

Housing allowance – $1,333 per month X 9 months = $11,997

Book Stipend – $1,000

Total Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits = $26,312.28.

So with Oxford charging $37,000 per year, you would have to pay a little over $10,000 per year out of your pocket. A pretty sweet deal to go to Oxford!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 22 months of eligibility left and approximately 24 months left to use or lose my Chapter 30 benefits. I do qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill for up to 60%, however, I understand I have to use all of my Chapter 30 benefits first. Please help me with this scenario. If I use all of my benefits up say on October 2012 and apply for the new post 9/11 GI Bill in November to cover my last two months of school (and since my 10 years will expire in January 2013), will I get another 10 months of coverage for November and December into January since I used all of my benefits and applied before my 10-year mark? Also from what I understand you get 15 years to use the benefits correct for Post 9/11? One last question, I heard there is a proposed bill that may go into effect next year allowing veterans to be eligible for the housing allowance even if they attend courses online through distance education (any truth to the rumor?) Thanks!

A: You don’t have to use up all your Chapter 30 benefits to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill; you can switch at any time and you will get the same number Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements you had under Chapter 30.

You do have to use up all of your Chapter 30 benefits first to get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements.

Exhaust your Chapter 30 entitlements first and then send in a new VA Form 22-1990 indicating you want to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. That will get you your additional 12 months and should extend out your delimiting date by an additional 5 years being the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a delimiting date of 15 years instead of the 10 years on Chapter 30.

As far as your last question, yes there is a bill in federal legislation that would pay veterans taking online-only classes 50% of the housing allowance, if it passes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What website lets you convert military training into college credits?

A: The only website I’m aware of is the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces. The ACE has went through every military job, grade and course and has figured out what each are worth. I think you would be surprised how many credits you will get for your military experience and training.

Their website has two methods of searching. One way you can input by grade, such as Army enlisted. The other way you can search by military education course. In either case, you will get a listing of how many credits apply to upper division or lower division and in what field.

Note that this is strictly a planning guide, as institutions have the final say as to what will transfer and for how many credits. However, it should be close as most of the institutions of higher learning use the ACE’s guide when converting credits to a transcript.

Also, don’t overlook using DANTES to get some credits just for taking and passing the tests.  Many times, servicemembers can test out of some of the lower-grade introductory courses, saving time and getting their degree quicker. By using both ACE’s guide and DANTES, you can maximize your GI Bill entitlement. By saving entitlement, you may be able to take some graduate courses that you otherwise would not have the entitlement to use.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How can I transfer my GI Bill to my daughter?

A: The answer depends on several variables. First, it depends on which GI Bill you have. The Montgomery GI Bill does not have a benefits transfer option, so if you have the MGIB, that one is out.

If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it does have a benefits transfer option, but only if you are still on active duty. Once you are out, you lose the transfer option. The exact transfer eligibility criteria is you:

  • have to be on active duty on or after August 1, 2009;
  • have served for at least six years, of which at least three years has to be after September 10, 2001;
  • and you have to sign-up for an additional four years. Then you can access the transfer option website and make a request.

If you are within four years of retiring, the additional time required is prorated.

If you are already out, but you do meet the retirement eligibility criteria, you may get a change to make a transfer, if S3447 legislative bill passes. The bill does have a transfer clause in it, but we don’t know what the final language will look like to know if it would apply in your situation or not. Keep watching this website for more information on the bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband retired from the military and is disabled. Can our child use his GI Bill to attend college?

A: Probably not, unless your husband is classified by the VA as totally (100%) and permanently disabled and the disability is service-connected. If he is, then your son could attend college, not under his father’s GI Bill, but under Chapter 35 – the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA). Your son would get 45 months of education benefit that he would have to use up between age 18 and 23.

If your son does not qualify for Chapter 35, all is not lost as there are plenty of financial aid sources available. Have him start by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see how much and what type of financial aid he might qualify for. Also, most of the military service organizations, such as the American Legion and VFW, have their own scholarship programs, as do many colleges and universities. Don’t overlook the work-study programs either that many schools offer to help defray college tuition and fees.

The point is where there is a will, there is a way. Thousands of students attend college each year and most do not have the GI Bill, so it can be done with a little patience, persistence and perseverance.