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How to use Chapter 35 Dependents Educational Assistance.

This past fall was my third year in dealing with Chapter 35. So I’ve been around the block  with this stuff, and there’s stuff I learned along the way that can help others.  I had one child get an associates degree at  a  2 year community college,  and this past fall, transfer to a 4 year school to complete his bachelor’s degree.  Youngest will graduate high school in May, and is already enrolled in tech school for the fall.

If I can offer some valuable advice to anyone wanting to use it, here goes:

  1. File ASAP. Get the application for DEA sent off for approval.  Especially if your kid is a senior in high school.  I filed for my youngest in October, got the award letter in December.  It stated to take it to the school he plans to attend.  I can’t stress this enough that the sooner you get it in, the better.  Benefit here, even if you don’t know for sure your kid is going to do college, get an idea of where they are considering going.  If they know for sure where they plan to go, have them get their application for enrollment sent to the school of their choice as early in their senior year as possible.  If they get that sent in and are accepted, getting their enrollment done early is a snap.
  2. Do not forget to do your FASFA. If you have little or no other family income, get your taxes done and get the FASFA completed.  You will find, especially if you depend solely on your VA income, that your child will get full Pell Grants.  (No expected family contribution) Additionally, if you get your FASFA info sent in and the school is notified, Your child could possibly get the additional FSEOG grant which is another 500$ on top of the Pell Grant.
  3. Have your child apply for every scholarship you can find! SCHOLARSHIPS AND PELL GRANTS do not affect the Chapter 35 benefit, and the child receiving Chapter 35 benefit will not affect the eligibility for  the Pell or FSEOG grants.  This can actually just about cover ALL college costs except living expenses.  Then that frees up that 925$ a month for the kid to live on without having to work.
  4. Go tour the school with your kid! Get with the school’s Financial Aid Department!  Many MANY schools actually have someone in the financial aid department that specifically handles Chapter 31, 35, and GI bill (usually referred to as veterans counselor).  Make it a point to stop in and talk to these folks, and ask if there are any additional items or info they may need or want.  These people can steer you in the right direction.  Put them on speed dial!  This Person will also be the contact person to re-certify enrollment to be sent to CHAMPVA while the kid is enrolled in school.  Each school is different, some re-certify by semester, some by school year.  Pay attention to the dates on their CHAMPVA card.  You need to make sure you keep on top of this.
  5. Check on immunizations, especially if your child is considering out of state. Some states require additional vaccinations.  (Example, my son went first two years of college in Kansas, where he graduated high school.  Transferred his Junior year of college to Oklahoma, and they required additional shots, specifically the Hep B.)
  6. They do not currently direct deposit Chapter 35 checks. Those will be sent to the dependant’s home address… might be wise to make sure you can get those checks deposited to a bank account for your kid.

If you have other questions about it, please drop me a line, I’ve been through just about all of it.

This past fall payments were slightly delayed due to the high volume of claims….. that’s why it’s important to get yours in early…. I  know several of the students down here were still waiting for their first check in December.

And a final note… if you haven’t learned how to text… you might want to, it’s a great way to let your kid know you’re thinking about them that day!  They will get homesick!

They say that those who served in World War II were the Greatest Generation.  These men and women sacrificed for their country on the front lines, in American factories, and even in their homes during wartime.  Those who served in the military were rewarded for their service by the passage of the Montgomery GI Bill.  And in turn, the GI Bill changed our country forever, giving those who had proven their sense of duty to the nation an opportunity to enjoy the benefit of an education.  It is possible that with the institution of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, that America is on the cusp of transforming once again.

As an officer in the U.S. Army, I was honored to serve with anywhere from 25 to 100 Soldiers during my five years of Active Duty.  As an officer during I time of war, I was proud to serve with these same Soldiers in forward-deployed and combat situations.  As a civilian, I am fulfilled to continue to work with those who served and remain in service.  I feel like I gave some of my best years to the country and to the Army, and I have never regretted it.  The benefits have simply been overwhelming.

The single greatest benefit I earned from my time in the Army is the sense of confidence, accomplishment, and fulfillment that I have gained from my service.  In my current job, I work with service members of every branch and service, as well as with veterans in my great state.  I recently completed a project that involved me interviewing 35 service members and veterans from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan just to gather their stories for posterity.  We interviewed people from every part of our state, every background, nearly every rank, and every aspect of involvement in the current war.  I would absolutely say that a high proportion of those interviewed would agree with me with respect to the great benefit of the fulfilling nature of military service.

The majority of my old Soldiers with whom I stay in close contact, and those who we interviewed for our project would likely also admit that the financial benefits they received from their time in Active Duty or Guard and Reserve components were a very close second to the pride and camaraderie of service.  They often joined the military with no or some college, and separated with at least the college credits that earned them promotion through the ranks.  They were then able to purchase homes with the 100% loan guaranteed through the VA Loan program, go to college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and even ensure that their healthcare was covered if they sustained any level of injury while they were serving.

The country paid for my schooling too, and I used my benefits to purchase my home.  I still believe that the single greatest benefit I received from the military was the sense of honor I still enjoy.  Beyond that, I am going to enjoy watching this nation prosper from a new generation of servant-hearted veterans returning to the workforce and the classrooms of our country to help transform our nation again.

Find the original post here: http://extraditionmusic.wordpress.com/

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is there a site that I can go to where I can look up the highest tuition costs for different in-state schools?

A: Yes there is; go to the VA’s website. Click on POST 9/11 GI BILL & OTHER PROGRAMS. Scroll down and click on maximum in-state tuition rates. The chart lists the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill maximums for each state. Even if your tuition costs are less than the Maximum Charge Per Credit Hour for your state, the VA will not pay more than the Maximum Total Fees Per Term, as your tuition costs are included in that maximum fees amount.

If you school charges more per credit hour than what shows in the chart for your school’s state, then you will have to pay the difference, unless you are at the 100% tier level and your school is a Yellow Ribbon school. If they are, then they can pay up to half of the difference not covered by the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and the VA can pay an equal amount.  This leaves very little, if any, out-of-pocket expenses for you to pay. If they are not a Yellow Ribbon school, or if you are not at the 100% tier, then you will have to pay the amount not covered by the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: When I enlisted in the military, I did not sign up for the G.I. Bill. Instead, I did the collage loan repayment program. Am I still eligible for the G.I Bill program?

A: Maybe – I don’t have enough information from your question to give you a definite yes or no, but I can give you the requirements. When you signed up for the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP), you incurred a three-year commitment to that program. Because you can not have both the CLRP and the G.I. Bill during the same period of service, your service counting toward your eligibility for the G.I. Bill will not start until after you have three years of service.

If you are past that three-year mark and looking at the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB), then you need to set up the $100-per-month-for-12-months pay reduction and serve an additional three years to qualify. If you are eligible for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, then you need 90 days of service after September 10, 2001 for the minimum 40% tier and three years of service to reach the 100% tier level, however, with the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, you don’t need to make the $1,200 contribution.

If you qualify for both G.I. Bills, which bill you choose depends on your education goals. If your plans are to go to a college or university, then either Bill will work and you will have to decide which Bill will pay you more. If you plan on going to a trade school or take an OJT/Apprenticeship program, then go with the MGIB, as the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill does not pay for these programs.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I joined the Navy in October 2004. I also enrolled in the loan repayment program – these loans have been paid off for a few years now. Furthermore, I payed into the GI Bill when I enlisted as well.  Five years later, I am now a veteran (honorable discharge) and am wondering if I will have 100% of my new GI Bill benefits. Thank you for your time.

A: No, you won’t have 100% of your Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits and you would get paid a lesser amount when you start school.  When you signed up for the Student Loan Repayment (SLR) program, you incurred a three-year commitment to have your loans paid off. Since you can’t get both the G.I. Bill and SLR at the same time, you didn’t start “earning” your G.I. Bill until  October 2007.

It takes three years to earn the full G.I. Bill benefits.  Since you got out with a total of five years of service, and take off the three years for SLR, you would only have two years that would apply to your G.I. Bill. With less than three-years of service, you would get paid $1,111 per month in Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits instead of $1,368 with three years of qualifying service.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the South Carolina Army National Guard in 2008. I have a loan dating back to 1982 and I also have a loan taken out under my name for my daughter to attend college in 2009. Can the G.I. Bill pay off the debt?

A: No, the GI Bill can’t pay off student loans directly.  However, if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) to go to school, you can use that G.I. Bill money to pay for whatever you want, including student loans.

One program that does pay off certain (federally-insured ) loans is the Student Loan Repayment Program.  Many times that is an option at enlistment in lieu of the G.I. Bill.  The reasoning is if you already have student loans when you enlist, you probably don’t need more money for college, but could use the help to pay off student loans.  During the same period of time (three years) you can’t get both SLR and the G.I. Bill.

When you are eligible for re-enlistment, ask about the SLR program. It is usually an option for certain critical MOSs or selected units.  It would mean having to go to another MOS-producing course and probably switching to a different unit, but it is something to think about and possibly a re-enlistment option.

Also, you mentioned the loan taken out by you for your daughter.  Depending on the type of loan and certain other factors, it may be eligible for SLR. Generally speaking, loans for family members are not SLR eligible.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am on active duty and completed the paperwork to transfer my Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to my daughter. I know that the tuition will carry over after I retire, but will she receive housing and cost-of-living stipend as well? Thanks.

A: Yes Phil, under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, she will receive the housing allowance and book stipend.  I’m not sure what you are referencing to when you talk about the cost-of-living stipend, unless that is the housing allowance.  Whether you retire or not doesn’t have any effect on when your daughter gets her housing allowance and book stipend as she will get that whether you are still serving or not. It is different with a spouse; spouses don’t get their housing allowances while the service member is still serving.

Your daughter’s housing allowance will be based on the E-5 with dependents rate and the zip code of her school. Her book stipend will be paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit hour up to $1,000 per year.

Her tuition will be paid directly to her school up to the maximum in-state public school amount in the state where she will go to school.  Keep in mind, if she chooses an online-only program, or attends at less than half-time, she will not get the housing allowance.

If she attends a private school, or pays out-state tuition, all of her tuition may not be covered by her Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits.  If that is going to be the case, ask her school if they are a Yellow Ribbon school.  Under the Yellow Ribbon Agreement, the school can pay up to half of the difference not paid by the VA and the VA will pick up an equal amount, leaving very little, or nothing, left to pay out-of-pocket.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I started service on June 28 of 2007, and I waived my MGIB for LRP. I plan to leave the service shortly after December 28 of 2010. My question is: since the three years of service for the LRP are finished on June 28 of 2010, and I am leaving six months later on December 28 of 2010, will I have passed the six months necessary to get 50% of the benefits of the new GI Bill? If not, how much longer should I stay in? How can I make sure of this? Thanks for any advice!

A: If you are sure of your dates, then it adds up to 182 days, not counting the 28th of June or 28 December, so you should be fine.  My concern was that it was over 180 days and it is with a couple of days to spare. A good time to get out would on the last day of the year.

At the Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits 50% tier rate, you will get 50% of your tuition paid directly to your school.  You will have to pay the other 50% from personal funds.

Directly paid to you will be 50% of the housing allowance for an E-5 with dependents at the zip code of your school and 50% of the book stipend, up to $1,000 per year, which at the 50% level, you will never hit that cap.

Keep in mind that under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, if you take online only classes or attend less than half-time, you will not get the housing allowance.

Personal Finance Story: Jobs and Education

Rewind to right after our vows in June. Paul and I both had excellent jobs. I was lucky enough to get a co-op (internship) at a great company in our hometown. I finished my Associate Degree in June right as we were married. I decided that I wanted to start my career. I knew I would find a job, so I wasn’t concerned about finishing with my Bachelor’s at that point.

Oh, did I mention I had my college completely paid for and would have had my entire four years paid for had I continued? Yeah, looking at the student loans we incurred (which wasn’t a lot, but still), it wasn’t the brightest move to make. One more financial mistake.

FYI, 100% Service disabled veterans receive additional benefits (including a GI Bill type program for family members) for spousal and children college tuition. I was eligible for a 100% scholarship to any 4-year state school based on my dad’s service connection. I’m not sure if that is still available but it is definitely worth looking into if it applies for your family.

Since Paul had been in the military, he was eligible for the GI Bill. We incurred very little debt for his education as well. But, like me, he just worked on his Associate Degree and finished right before our wedding too. He landed a well paying job a local company in manufacturing.

I was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at a great company making great money as a teenager. Guess who also got a job at that same great company? My husband! He worked on the line in the plant in hopes that he would eventually move up the ranks. We both worked second shift. That was not the working hours for me! But since we both worked those hours, it worked for our newlywed lifestyle :)

I was only at that company for a few months when the company I worked for previously called to offer me a full-time position doing what I had been doing (formerly as an intern). I loved the people and knew the company. Plus, we were expecting our first babe. Knowing that both of us worked second shift, we knew eventually we would have to make a change in work hours since that wasn’t the best for raising a family (for us).

It’s a good thing I made that move.

–Andrea Deckard

Find the original post here: http://mommysnacks.net/2010/03/personal-finance-story-jobs-education/

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve been out of the National Guard since 1993 and joined in 1987, but never got to use my GI Bill. I’m in school now and would like to use it. I’ve been told by my school that after 10 years it is no good, but never heard this when I was in the Guard. I need help and answers. What do I need to do get get my benefits now that I need them?

A: I’m sorry, but you have been slightly mis-informed on your Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) benefits. That part that is correct is you do have 10 years to use your MGIB-SR benefits, but only as long as you remain a member in good standing in the Guard.  The part you didn’t know is that once your are discharged, you lose all your MGIB-SR benefits. So, as of 1993 when you were discharged, you no longer have had any GI bill benefits.

I get this same question, or a variation of it, a lot as many Reservists and Guardsmen do not know they lose their Montgomery GI Bill benefits until after they are discharged. This information should be part of a yearly benefits briefing, but the word just doesn’t seem to get out until it is too late – after the Reserve or Guard soldier is discharged. I’m sorry, but there is nothing you can do to get back these benefits.