This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m confused by the difference between Maximum Charge per Credit Hour and Maximum Total Fees per Term and what each means. I think I’m missing a real “duh” answer here, but I must confess I don’t fully comprehend.

For example Utah has a $63,576.60 max. total fee per term. So does that mean if I go to a school in Utah that is $30,000 a semester I can pay all that through the new GI Bill? And is there a limit to how much the GI Bill pays out? I mean I go to school in Utah that is $30,000 a semester and if I attend said school until I earn my degree that’s $240,000 (hypothetically speaking). The GI Bill covers all that?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill maximum charge per credit hour is the maximum amount the VA will pay your school per credit for the credits you are taking each term. The amount is based on the most expensive public school undergraduate program in each state.

For example, Utah’s per-credit maximum is $208.86. If your school charges more per credit, then you have to pay the difference, or use the Yellow Ribbon Program to help pay the difference. If your school charges less than the maximum, the VA will pay what your school charges. You do not get the difference between what they pay and the maximum.

As far as maximum total fees, the VA will pay up to the fees maximum for your state, for mandatory student charges, excluding tuition. If your fees are less than the maximum, the VA will pay the actual costs your school charges.

Some states have several colleges that teach high-fee courses, such a engineering, aviation and medical courses, so they end up with higher fee maximums than other states having a lesser density of high-fee schools. If you are not taking a high-fee course, your fees will be considerably less than the maximum.

Generally speaking, the limit the VA pays is up to 48 months of entitlement, up to the tuition and fees maximum per term established for your state. The Yellow Ribbon Program is the exception as the VA amount exceeds the state maximums. The 48 months is the maximum combined months of entitlement, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills.

What is interesting to note is you can take a course in South Dakota and the VA pays up to a maximum of $93.40 per credit. If you take that same course in Texas, they pay up to $1,471 per credit. Interesting!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I am currently enrolled for the fall semester for 18 units. My VA rep explained to me that if I have the GI Bill pay for half-time enrollment (7 units), then I will only use up one-half of the allotted time while receiving full benefits. He later told me that he was not sure this was correct. Is the above a valid method to only use half of the GI Bill time or do I continue taking heavy course-load to complete my degree within the given time?

A: What your VA Rep told you is partially true. You have to be considered a greater-than–half-time student (not half-time or less) to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

I’m not sure what you mean when you said “within the given time”. Your 36 months of entitlement is enough to get a four-year degree, if you go four 9-month academic years. Some veterans think once they start using their benefits, they have to use them up in 36 months, which is not true; you have 36 months of entitlement, but 15 years to use it.

Entitlement use is pro-rated based on the number or credits you take per term, against what your school considers full-time. The VA normally pays up to a full-time course load, which at most schools is 12 credits.

Here is how it works. If you take 12 credits for a four-month semester, you use up four months of entitlement, but if you take 7 credits during a semester, you only use up 2.33 months of entitlement. While your rate of use is less per semester, you still have 36 months of GI Bill entitlement to use, however, it will take you longer to use it and ultimately longer to get your degree.

Be aware that under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA probably won’t pay for the credits you are taking that are above what your school considers full-time, so you may end up paying for those extra credits out of your pocket.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is in the National Guard, and he told me that he gave me his GI Bill and I was wondering how I can find out if he actually did? Also, how would I use it if I do have it, is there a form I have to fill out?

A: Most National Guard members have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) which doesn’t have a transfer option, so I doubt he was able to transfer that GI Bill to you. If he has been deployed, on Title 10 orders for a contingency operation, he may also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but I doubt he has enough active duty time to qualify for the transfer option. For that he would have needed six years of active duty time and had to extend for another four years.

To find out if he has transferred benefits or not, submit VA Form 22-1990e online and see if it comes back approved or denied. If it comes back denied, then you know he did not make the transfer, or at least if he did, it was not approved. If it comes back approved, then you will have your Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when you enroll in school anyway. If you can’t submit the form online, you can download the form and send it in according to the instructions on the form.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was in the Marine Corps from Feb 99 – Aug 03 (some stop loss there) and I used the GI Bill to finish my associate’s degree from 07 to 08. Now, I would like to finish my bachelor’s degree and possibly my master’s at a local state university (Montclair State University in New Jersey) Do I still qualify for benefits and how much longer would I have if I still do? Also, I work full time so I would be looking to do this at night. How many credits would I need to take at once figuring a 3-credit course is around $1,000? Thanks in advance. Jeff White

A: The amount of time you have left to use your GI Bill depends on which GI Bill you have. Delimiting dates start on the day of discharge, so if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) with its 10-year delimiting date, it will end in 2013. If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill with its 15-year delimiting date, then you have until 2018.

With either GI Bill, you have 36 months of benefits. You used approximately 18 months to get your associate’s degree, so you should be able to get your bachelor’s degree with what is left.

If you are using the MGIB, it looks like you would also qualify for around the 70% level for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (more than 18 months, but less than 24 after September 10, 2001). If so, once you exhaust your MGIB, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months that you could apply towards your master’s degree.

This part of your question –“How many credits would I need to take at once figuring a 3-credit course is around $1,000?” – I can’t figure out what you are asking. The MGIB pays you a fixed amount, depending on your rate of pursuit (full-time, half-time, etc.) while the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays per credit, up to your school’s in-state maximum, which for New Jersey is $450.67 per credit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently using the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for school. Is there a cap on the number of courses you can take during a semester? Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill is only for 36 months I’d like to take 6 courses as opposed to 4 per semester. I am attending a community college and taking more courses would still not amount to the max tuition rate of my state(MA). Thanks for your help.

A: I guess I don’t understand your reasoning when you said “Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill is only for 36 months, I’d like to take 6 courses as opposed to 4 per semester”. Your 36 months of GI Bill entitlement is enough for 4 years of college calculated on 9-month academic years, so you don’t need to kill yourself by taking 18 credits per term.

The VA sets the maximum tuition per credit that they will pay based on the most expensive public school undergraduate program in the state where your school is located. If your school charges less than the maximum, then that is what the VA will pay.

Generally the VA will pay up to the number of credits your school considers as full-time. At most schools, it is 12 credits per term. So if you take more than 12 credits per term, you may have to pay for the credits over 12 out of your pocket.

I think you were taking the VA maximum for your state times 12 credits and dividing it by what your school’s per-credit amount and saw that you could take 18 credits and still be under the maximum amount, but doesn’t work that way. The VA pays actual costs and not the maximum, if the actual costs are less.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am wondering about how things work if I move and cannot complete the semester? I did not take summer classes and I’m registered for the fall, but may not be able to finish that semester because I may be moving to another state for work and family issues. Are there any type of allowances for this type of situation. Will I be able to start right back up in the spring and continue to get my benefits if I don’t finish the fall semester?

A:  For the good of all parties involved – you, the VA and your school – you should either commit to completing the full semester or not start. If you drop mid-term, it is going to cause all kinds of problems.

If you will have to drop, the VA will make a determination if the reason you dropped was within or out of your control. Usually, if it is out of your control, and the VA is satisfied that what made you drop in the first place has been corrected, then they won’t make you pay back any money they paid as GI Bill benefits and you can continue using your GI Bill.

However, if they deemed the reason was within your control, then they may request you pay them back and that gets you into a recoupment issue with VA Debt Management which never is a good thing. That would prevent you from getting future benefits until you had the money paid back.

Second, if you can’t complete the semester, then what is the point of starting in the first place.  Once you are beyond the drop period, if you move, you will get an incomplete for grades  for your classes and then all you ended up doing is wasting time and money, because you will have to take all the classes over again.

If you can’t commit to finishing the fall term, then I recommend you skip it and start again in the spring.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I’m a 21-year old son of a medically discharged veteran. I’ve received Chapter 35 at a university I attended in MN. I’m wondering whether I am able to continue receiving this benefit internationally. Soon I’ll be attending a university in England (University of Bedfordshire) and I’m not sure if I’d still be eligible? Thanks for your time.

A: There isn’t a restriction on using your Chapter 35 benefits to attend an international school provided the school in on the VA list of approved schools. In checking that list, the University of Bedfordshire is listed as an approved school, so that makes the rest of it easy. Otherwise your school would have to request VA approval which would slow things down considerably.

Since your school is already listed, submit VA Form 22-5490,  Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits, either online or download the form and send it in according to the instructions.

As you already know, you’ll get $925 per month that you can use to help pay for tuition and fees and you had 45 months of entitlement when you started in the Chapter 35 program. There is an age limitation of 26, so ensure you have used up your entitlement before you attain that age.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am working on getting my degree while overseas still on active duty. Distance learning is really my only option and I only have time to take one or two classes a term.

How would using Top-Up along with TA affect my total GI Bill entitlements considering it would only be about $300 dollars a term? Would I lose what was left after 36 months?

If I am going to be doing this for about the next 2 years (a few distance classes a term) and have to use Top-Up, which GI Bill is better? All of the information I find is assuming full time students. Thank you so much if you can clear up this confusion. Jeff

A: Yes I can clear up your confusion. First, let’s talk about GI Bills. The Montgomery GI Bill will be your better option in your particular situation. Because your are on active duty, you would not get a housing allowance or book stipend if you used the Post 9/11 GI Bill anyway, plus this would leave an option open for you after you use up all of your MGIB education benefits – switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and getting an additional 12 months of education benefit that you could use once you are out. If you would take enough classes to be considered over half-time (usually 7 credits or more), then you would then also get the housing allowance and book stipend.

If you are using Tuition Top-Up with TA, then your service branch pays all of your tuition (up to the $250 per credit and annual $4,500 cap) and they bill the VA for the portion not covered by TA. The VA pays your service branch for the amount billed and they convert this dollar amount to months and days of GI Bill entitlement. The VA deducts this amount from your unused entitlement.

At $300 per term, it won’t amount to much of a deduction – maybe around 7 days per term.

As far as losing what is left, no you won’t – at least not right away. Under the MGIB, you have 10 years from your date of discharge to finish using your entitlement.  Like I said earlier, then you can switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, get 12 more months of entitlement and have up to 15 years to use that up. A pretty sweet deal, don’t you think?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a Veteran from the Army and I was wondering if the GI Bill benefits to Step-children as well?

A: The Montgomery GI Bill does not have a provision to cover any children, biological or otherwise, however, the Post 9/11 GI Bill does have that provision. Not only does it cover both biological and step-children, it covers adopted children not having any biological ties to either parent as long, as they are legally adopted.

If you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option, your first step is ensuring you have went through the proper legal procedure to formally adopt your step-children. Next, you will have to see your Unit Administrator and have your step-children entered into DEERS. The third step is to go to the TEB website and try making a transfer request. If your children are listed, try entering a number of months.

If the record is “grayed out” and you can’t access it, then either you are not eligible to transfer benefits or the record is not set up correctly in DEERS. If it lets you enter a number, then you should be O.K.

Once you are done, you will see a “Pending Review” status. Keep checking back at the website and look for a status change. At some point it will go to “Approved” with an approval date.  Once approved, and before your child starts college, he/she will have to submit  VA Form 22-1990e to get a Certificate of Eligibility which he/she will need when enrolling in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I transfer my Chapter 33 GI Bill over to a new school. I was at Shoreline Community College in Everett Washington, now I need it for Everest College in Everett Washington.

A:  Just send in a new VA Form 22-1990, if you are a veteran; use VA Form 22-1990e, if you are a dependent using transferred benefits. Either form can be submitted electronically via the VONAPP website, or by downloading the form (form for veterans) (form for dependents with transferred benefits), and sending it in according to the instructions on the form.

Everest College is on the VA-Approved list of schools, but make sure your course is covered by your GI Bill before you transfer schools. I ran into this once before where a school had both IHL and Non-Degree lists on the VA-Approved Schools Website but because the course was listed under the Non-Degree side, instead of the IHL side, the VA wouldn’t approve the servicemember’s application use his Post 9/11 GI Bill for a Pharmacy Technician course.

According to the VA rules his non-degree course should have been covered because it was being taught at a school that also teaches degree-producing programs, but for some reason they wouldn’t approve his request. I would hate to see you fall into that same trap. Contact the VA and ask first.