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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: 1) If I sign up for the MGIB and get an Administrative Discharge a few days after my 2 year mark in the Army, am I still eligible to use it? 2) For Military members who sign up for the MGIB and finished shortly after the Post 9/11 GI Bill came into effect, does the MGIB transfer into the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: Whether you can use the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or not will depend on the character of service of your Administrative Discharge. If it is anything less than fully Honorable (under Honorable conditions doesn’t count), then no you won’t be able to use your MGIB. If it is fully Honorable, then yes you can. However, with only two years in, you will get one month of benefit for each month served – or 24 months of benefit paid up to $1,368 per month.

To answer your second question, it really depends on the amount of time defined by “finished shortly”. To qualify for minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit (36 months at 40%), you must serve 90 days after September 10, 2001. To get the maximum benefit (36 months at 100%) requires three years after the September date.

If you get the Honorable character of service, you would end up at a tier percentage equating to the amount of time you had post-September 10, 2001. If you meet the eligibility requirement, you have the option to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however it is not automatic; you have to request it using VA Form 22-1990.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) through my spouse, who is rated 100% disabled. I have used about half of my benefits and I want to continue my education because I have been unable to secure a permanent position as a teacher due to hiring freezes in So. California. If I start full time on August 31, 2010, can my benefits be extended? Please let me know.

A: I just need to first clarify something. I don’t think you are using your husband’s Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – I think you are using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA). There are some subtle differences between the two.

The MGIB has 36 months of education benefits where the DEA has 45 months. The MGIB pays $1,368 per month and the DEA pays $1,094.40 per month, however over the course of both programs, they end up paying the same amount – $49,248. The advantage of the DEA is you get 9 more months of benefit and your delimiting time clock usually starts later. The MGIB time clock starts on the date of discharge. The DEA time clock starts when the VA informs your husband he is 100% disabled. However, once notified and your clock starts, you still have 10 years to use up your benefit.

To answer the second part of your question, generally speaking, no your benefits can’t be extended. Two situations where the VA will extend your benefits are:

  • if you were disabled during a period of time that prevented you from training;
  • or if your benefits end mid-term, the VA can extend you to the end of the term.

It doesn’t sound as if either would apply in your case.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My childrens’ father (we were not married) was in the Army and served for 4 years – he got out in 2001 or early 2002. Not sure exact time I would have to do some digging – he has now passed away. Would either of our children be able to use his GI Bill benefits? Our oldest daughter will be going to college in August 2011. I guess my question is – if this is possible where should I look to get information about this? Thanks!

A: If he passed away due to a service-connected disability, then they may each qualify for the  Survivor’s and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. Under this program, each of them could get up to 45 months of education benefit with pay up to $925 per month to go to school. They would have to use their education benefit between the ages of 18 and 26. After age 26, they would lose any remaining unused benefits.

Training programs included under the DEA program are both degree (undergraduate and graduate) and non-degree type training programs, such as trade, technical, license and certifications. The program will reimburse up to $2,000 for certification tests.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I left the military early, because I was pregnant, so I will only receive a portion of my benefits.  I am relying on my Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for my tuition.

The problem is that I am not sure how this is done. I have read over it about 100 times, and it isn’t clicking.

My tuition is $784 per semester where I am going. The max for the state with my percentage is $7,500.

So, does that mean they will pay it all or will they pay the percentage of the school’s tuition? And do they pay that specific amount or do they refund the over amount like financial aid does?

My little brother received around $2,000 a month for school under the Montgomery GI Bill, so I am confused about all this too… Can you clarify these things for me? I consider myself pretty smart, but this whole thing is confusing me.

A: Yes, Anne, it is confusing, but let me try to clarify it for you. How the Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition works is the VA established a maximum tuition and maximum fees amount they would pay for each state and territory. Tuition was based on the each states’ most expensive public school undergraduate program. The maximum amount is based on per credit hour and full-time course load, which at most schools is considered 12 credit per term (quarter, semester, etc.)

So lets say the VA’s maximum amount for XYZ state was $350. If you were at the 100% level, they would pay this amount per credit up to 12 credits per semester ($350 x 12 = $4,200). If you were at a lesser percentage than 100%, let’s say 50%, then they would only pay that percentage of $350 times 12 credits (4200 x 50% = $2,100).

When you say your tuition is $784, I’m assuming that figure is per credit. If so, multiply $784 by the number of credits you are taking.Now multiply that figure by your percentage. That is the amount the VA will pay directly to your school. The difference between what the school charges and what the VA pays is your responsibility. There is no refund involved.

However, if you are not taking just online courses and if you are taking at least 7 credits per term, you would also get a housing allowance and a book stipend calculated at your percentage. The housing allowance is calculated at a pay grade of E-5 with dependents for the zip code of your school. The book stipend is calculated at $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 per year maximum. Your book stipend would be your percentage times $1,000.

Using the same 50% figure, it would be $500.00. You can use the BAH calculator to figure the full housing allowance and then multiply the E-5 with dependents figure by your percentage. Once at the calculator, type in the zip code of your school in the Duty Zip Code field. From the Pay Grade field select E-5 from the Drop-down Menu. Click on Submit. When you get the results, use the E-5 with dependents figure as the full housing allowance figure.

If your brother was getting around $2,000 per month from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then he was most likely getting the full MGIB benefit of $1,368 per month and then he either had the Buy-Up or a kicker which added money to his monthly amount getting him to around $2,000.

With your brother using the MGIB, he had to pay his own tuition, fees and related education expenses. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and you get paid monthly for the housing allowance and book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have applied for school, but stuck now on how or who to talk to about receiving money from the MGIB. Do I go to the school and ask them or go to the VA? And will it me directly deposited or will they mail me a check? Or if you can please provide a link were all these questions can be answered that would be great! Thank you very much from one Vet to another, your help is greatly appreciated.

A: No problem, I can help you. Regardless if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or Post 9/11 GI Bill, the benefit request process is the same. To start getting paid to go to school, you have to submit VA Form 22-1990. You can do it either online, using the VONAPP Website, or you can download the form, fill it out and send it in according to the instructions on the form. In return you will get a Certificate of Eligibility which means you are approved. You will need your certificate when you enroll in school.

As you probably know, you’ll get up to $1,368 per month, for up to 36 months, to go to school. You will have to pay your own tuition, fees and education-related expenses. As far as what form of payment you can get, it is up to you.  When you fill out your VA Form 22-1990, Block 7 of Part I has a place to fill out Direct Deposit information. If you leave that portion blank, the VA will send your checks to your home address listed in Block 5 of Part I on the form.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have applied for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and have been sent a Certificate of Eligibility for 50% since I am a reservist. So far I have been mainly taking online classes. I know that I must take some face-to-face classes in order to receive the housing allowance. Will there be no payment for housing allowance until I have registered for a face-to-face class next term/s or do the payments for housing allowance start whenever I have registered for a face-to-face class? How many face-to-face classes must I take in order to keep receiving housing allowance? Thank you.

A: Ah yes, the quirk (one of many) of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I never understood why they wrote the Bill that way. It’s like online students don’t need a place to stay or food to eat. Just because they are going to school in a virtual environment, it doesn’t mean they live in one.

If you are taking online courses, you need to take at least one “face-to-face” course, as you call them, per term, to continue getting your housing allowance.  The other housing allowance requirement is you must be over a half-time student, which generally means taking at least 7 credits per term.

The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill works, as far as getting paid,  is you are paid the month following the schooling, so you are always a month behind in getting paid. When you register for courses verses when you begin courses isn’t an issue as far as getting paid.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was active duty in the Army from July 27, 2004, to May 10, 2005. I was in unit and out of training by February 2, 2005. I received an Honorable Discharge, Medical (Condition Existing Prior to Service/Service-Connected Condition/Condition Interfering with Duty). I have a documented service related disability of 10% and receive monthly disability payments. I was awarded approximately 9 months of Montgomery GI-Bill (Chapter 30) benefits, which I used in their entirety before September 2006. I am currently thinking of attempting graduate school. Could I potentially receive benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)?

A: To qualify for minimum (40%) Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you need at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001; you need at least three years for the full benefit. You more than meet the minimum, so yes, you should be able to get 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits payable at the 50% level.

This means the VA would pay 50% of your tuition and eligible fees directly to your school. You, in turn, would get paid 50% of a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents. You would also get 50% of the $1,000 per year book stipend.

One way to find out for sure if you qualify is to send in VA Form 22-1990 and see if they approve it. If so, great! If not, at least you tried.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I recently graduated college using the GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill extension. I was accepted into an eleven-month certification program, but I only have approximately 3 months of benefits remaining on my Post 9/11 extension. My question is will I receive benefits for the entire program up until graduation? Or will I have to find other means to pay for school after all benefits have been exhausted? Thanks in advance.

A: Normally, if you run out of GI Bill benefits mid-term, the VA will run your benefits to the end of the term. If you were going to school under the Montgomery GI Bill, and qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill also, then the VA would “loan” you the number of months and days needed to get you to the end of the semester. Then the VA would subtract the amount they loaned you from your additional Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.  If you hit your delimiting date mid-term though, it is a different story. By law, the VA has to stop your benefits immediately and they would not run you through until the end of the term.

In your case, you are already on your Post 9/11 GI Bill extension, so they would get you to the end of the term, but not to the end of the course. I would plan to make some other financial arrangements for the amount the VA will not cover.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in the US Army from 1988-1992 (4 years active duty) I paid into the GI Bill and never used it. Is there any way to get some assistance to use the GI Bill or did I totally lose it? I live in Wisconsin and that was my State on entry. Any Information would be great. Thanks!

A: No, you lost your Montgomery GI Bill education benefit 10 years after discharge, unless you were either:

  • recalled back to active duty;
  • detained by a foreign power;
  • or debilitated by an illness or injury that prevented from going to school, your chance for an extension approval is nil.

You mention Wisconsin as your state of residence and entry. I looked up Wisconsin’s State Veterans Benefits and it looks like you would have some, namely the Wisconsin G.I. Bill Tuition Remission Program for Veterans. Under this State GI Bill, you can take up to 128 credits at any University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System institution and get 100% of your tuition and fees paid.

To qualify for the Wisconsin G.I. Bill, the veteran must have been a Wisconsin resident at the time of entry onto active duty and currently reside in Wisconsin. Character of service and active duty service requirements apply.

For veterans, there is no post-service time limitation (such as the federal Montgomery G.I. Bill 10-year delimiting date) on the use of the benefit. The veteran may attend school either full or part-time.

The benefit may be used for continuing education, or for study at the undergraduate or graduate level. I would contact your State Veterans Office and have them verify that you qualify.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: First, thanks for such and informative blog – I wish I’d found it sooner! A couple of questions- 1. My husband separated from the Army in 2004. He has the (old school) Montgomery GI Bill Chapter 30 benefits which, from the comparison chart are transferable to me. Can you tell me the process/form for transferring benefits? 2- in 2008, my husband was determined 100% permanent and totally disabled. This qualifies me for Dependents’ Education benefits Chapter 35, Title 38 (DEA).

Can I use both the DEA benefits and the MGIB benefits concurrently? I can find publication M22-4, Part IV, Chapter 24 on page 3-3 which states “Dependent Eligible for Chapter 35. If a veteran’s spouse or dependent child is eligible for benefits under chapter 35, there is no bar to payment of additional chapter 30 benefits to the veteran for his or her spouse or child.” Confused and getting different answers from every VA office I contact.

A: The Montgomery GI Bill normally is not transferable, except in some isolated cases. Your husband would have to had filled out DD Form 2366-2, Montgomery GI Bill Act of 1984 (MGIB) Transferability Program either at his enlistment or after serving six years on active duty and signing up for an additional four years to secure transfer of his MGIB benefits to you. Normally the transfer program was only offered as a retention tool to those serving in a “critical” MOS.

However, it does sound like you do qualify for the Chapter 35 benefits, but I doubt if you will be able to use the Montgomery GI Bill.  Under Chapter 35, you can get up to 45 months of education benefit paying you $925 per month to go to school.

If you find out your husband does have the MGIB Transferability Option, then under the Rule of 48 you would be limited to a maximum combined benefit of 48 months, so you could gain an additional 3 months of education benefits. So the publication you quoted is correct, it is just you are limited to 48 months.

Keep in mind that generally speaking, you have 10 years from when your husband was determined to be 100% disabled to use your DEA benefits.