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

Q: Ron, I am a retired SFC. I first entered the service in 03/1968. After nine years active duty, I was honorably discharged and used my Vietnam GI Bill benefits to attend flight school.

I was in the National Guard on and off until I was activated in 03/2003 to 06/2006. How many months total training do I have available, under all the GI Bills I am eligible for? Vietnam, 1606, 1607, Reap, Veap, Montgomery and Post 9/11? I believe I used 30 months under the Vietnam Bill and 7 months under the REAP Bill.

A: The most you can receive under any GI Bill by itself is 36 months, however, under the Rule of 48, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, you can only receive a maximum combined education benefit of 48 months. So by my calculations, if you have already used 37 months, then your maximum amount left would be 11 months.

Out of all the GI Bills, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay you the most, but to use it, you will have to go to a degree-producing school, or take a trade, technical or other non degree-producing course, at degree-producing school.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents, along with up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend. The VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school. To apply for benefits, send in VA Form 22-1990 through VONAPP.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear Sir/Ma’am, I am PCSing to ODC Lisbon, and wish to enroll in the MBA program at Instituto de Empresa business school in Madrid this November due to its proximity to Lisbon and more importantly due to its well-established reputation as one of the premier business schools worldwide.

I would like to use my GI Bill to defray the costs of this program at this school, but need to know if this school is already accredited by the GI program, or if I can put program administrators in touch with school personnel to establish payment for my tuition there. I look forward to hearing from you when able and thank you for your time!

A: I looked up your school and it is on the list of VA-Approved schools, so that is a good start. As you are attending a foreign school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your housing allowance and tuition costs are calculated differently.

As far as your housing allowance, it won’t be dependent on the zip code of your school and E-5 pay grade as it would have been if you were going to school here in the States. Instead, as a foreign student, you’ll receive a fixed amount of  $1,333 per month.

For tuition and fees, the VA will pay up to $408.09 per credit for tuition and up to $10,502.97 per term for fees. You will also get the book stipend, which is up to $1,000 per year.

To get your benefits started, submit VA Form 22-1990 either online at the VONAPP Website or download the form and send it in according to the instruction on the form. You will get back a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when you enroll in school.

Be sure to remind you school that they have to send in your Certificate of Enrollment form. Their form has to match up with your Certificate of Eligibility to get your GI Bill payments started.Have fun in Spain!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am attending a public vocational school and recently I switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but have yet to use any of the benefits after I made the switch. Does the Post GI Bill cover the cost of the school like it would at a state college? I am only entitled to 70%, yet the paper states something about for those that are receiving 100% they are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Am I still eligible? Thank you. in advance!

A: It is too bad you already switched as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) would have covered your vocational training, however, I’m doubtful the Post 9/11 GI Bill will. If your vocational school also teaches degree-producing courses (at least an associate’s degree), you may have a chance of your course being paid for by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If not, in the end, it probably isn’t going to make any difference if you are at 70% or 100% as I don’t think your course will be covered.

As far as the Yellow Ribbon program, yes, it is for individuals that are at the 100% tier of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. How it works is if your tuition exceeds what the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay, and your school is a Yellow Ribbon school, they can pay up to half of the difference not paid by the GI Bill and the VA will pay an additional amount. In the end, this leaves very little, if anything, left for you to pay out-of-pocket.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was told that the New GI Bill didn’t include tech schools,  such as UTI, and that they were trying to amend it so people could use the GI Bill in these types of schools. If the amendment is made after I get out of the military, does it still apply to me?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill is meant to pay for training programs that terminate in getting a degree. So generally speaking, what you were told, as far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill not paying for technical training courses is correct. However, if the technical training is taught by a college that also has degree-producing courses, technical training may be covered.

As far as the amendment, right now there is a bill in the legislature that would allow the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for technical training courses taught at a technical or vocational-type school. If the bill passes, and you would want to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill for a technical training course after that, then yes it would apply to you.

If you already have went through a technical training course and the amendment goes through, you couldn’t go back and have your GI Bill pay for that course.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am Army Reserve Retired. After September 2001, I retired 6 months later. I would like to know what educational benefits can I qualify for my children?

A: Actually, you don’t have any educational benefits at all, if you have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR), which is what you would have had as an Army Reservist. The way the MGIB-SR works is you have either 10 or 14 years (depending on when you joined) to use your education benefits while you are still a member of the Reserves. However, once you are out, your education benefits stop on your discharge date. Besides, the MGIB-SR does not have a benefits transfer option.

The only GI Bill having a transfer option is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To transfer education benefits, you must have at least six years on active duty, commit to an additional four years and make the transfer while you are still on active duty. Once retired, you can’t make a new transfer, however, you still have the right to revoke or reallocate unused benefits to those already having transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is a soldier in the Army National Guard.  His is currently on his third deployment. He transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to our son who is will start his first year of college this fall.  My husband qualified (per VA) at the 80% rate of payment for the GI Bill based on the number of months of AD tours overseas.  Because he is on AD now, he is adding to his qualifying months and will soon be eligible for 90% of tuition reimbursement during the middle of the first semester of our son’s schooling.  How do we get the increase from 80% to 90% and then again to 100%?  It is important to get these increases, but the main problem I see is that he will not have a DD214 until our son has already started his second year due to the tour length. (we need the yellow ribbon program – tuition is over $35K per year without housing).  Any suggestions?  And… Thanks a bundle for such a great and informative web site!

A: First of all, something here is not right.  For your husband to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your son, he has to already be at the 100% level, have served six years on active duty and commit to an additional four years, before the transfer option will allow him to enter the number of months he wishes to transfer. Just to get to the 100% level, without transferring, requires at least three years on active duty.

If the VA rated your husband at 80%, then they have determined he has at least 24 months, but less than 30 months, of qualifying active duty service, which makes sense due to him already have two deployments under his belt and working on a third.

I don’t think your husband transferred anything to your son, as he isn’t eligible to, so whether you have an updated DD214 at this point or not is a mute point. Even once your husband has the three years to qualify for the 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he won’t have the six years on active duty he needs, plus agreeing to the additional four years.

One sure way to tell if he has any transferred benefits or not is to have him send in VA Form 22-1990e. If he gets it back approved and with a Certificate of Eligibility, he has benefits; if it comes back denied, then he doesn’t.

I think you got some bad information concerning the transferring of this GI Bill and I would plan to make other financial arrangements for your son to go to college.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I recently read that the MyCAA program will be changing in the fall. I already have an account. How will the changes affect me?

Starting on October 25th, the MyCAA program will only accept junior grade servicemembers’ spouses into the program. Covered pay grades include:

  • Enlisted: E1 – E5;
  • Warrant Officer: W1 – W2;
  • Commissioned Officer: O1 – O2.

As Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said today in a Press Release, “The changes announced today reflect a return to the original intent of the program which is to help military spouses, with the greatest need, successfully enter, navigate and advance in portable careers.”

Other changes to the program includes:

  • limiting each eligible spouse up to an amount of $2,000 per year with a $4,000 cap;
  • each eligible spouse must use the funding within a three year period;
  • at the end of the three year each eligible spouse must have earned a license, certification or associates’ degree.

With the DOD making these changes to the MyCAA program, they are “returning to the original intent of the program in a way that is attainable and fiscally responsible for the Defense Department.” In other words, by limiting the program to spouses of junior servicemembers, the program will be able support a larger number of spouses in the pay grades that typically need more family income.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Does my time to use my MGIB start over after 7 months of active duty with the Army Reserves?

A: It really depends on which MGIB we are talking about. If you had prior active duty, and qualified for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) , then yes, your 14-year delimiting date would start from your last discharge date.

If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR), then no, it does not reset your delimiting date back to the beginning, but it does extend it out by the length of your deployment, plus 4 months. However, you still have to stay in a Reserve Component to use your benefit.  If you get out, your benefit ends.

The other GI Bill you might want to look at is the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  The minimum eligibility requirement is 90-days on active duty which you have.  With 7-months, you would be at the 50% tier, meaning the VA would pay 50% of your tuition and eligible fees and you would get 50% of both the housing allowance and book stipend. Even at 50%, you might end up making more money than with the MGIB-SR, if that is the GI Bill you currently have. It is worth looking into.

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  Survivor’s and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. Under this program, each of them could get up to 45 months of education benefit and paid 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.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, my son is using GI Bill benefits to start college next month. I am wondering if the housing benefits apply while he is staying at home and commuting to college. If so, what procedures to we follow to draw on that? My husband is active duty still so he is getting a BAH. Also, do the benefits pay for books and a laptop for use at school? Thank you for your time.

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill has some interesting quirks to it.  Your son will get the housing allowance, even if he is living at home, but if you were using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would not. So charge him room and board!

His housing allowance will be paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents for the zip code of his school. His book allowance will be up to $1,000 per year paid at $41.67 per credit hour. If you do the math, you will see that accounts for 24 credits, or two full-time 12-credit semesters.

Neither GI Bill provides, or has provisions to pay for, a computer, however, he can use his book stipend on whatever he wants, including a computer. Check with his school first, as some schools are giving students computers and including the computer cost in their education charges.

To get his housing allowance and book stipend (and tuition paid for) , he needs to submit VA Form 22-1990e via VONAPP. In return, he will get a Certificate of Eligibility, which he will need when he registers for school. Once enrolled, the school will submit a Certificate of Enrollment and when the two forms match up at the VA, that will start his benefits coming and pay his tuition.