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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I’m currently enrolled full-time at the University of Alabama, and before I drop a course that could really hurt my GPA, I would like to know if I drop one course will that impact my BAH for the entire semester? I would also like to know why we receive partial BAH depending on the start of the classes? The logic behind BAH is depending on the location you live in while in school, but most leases start the 1st of the month, so why doesn’t BAH cover the full month of “move-in” and “move-out”?

A: No dropping one course will not affect your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance unless dropping that course puts you at less than a half-time student, which usually means less than 6 credits. If it does, you won’t get a housing allowance.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is not credit driven as long as you are at least half-time.  And it makes sense since your living expenses don’t change based on how many credits you are taking. What can affect you though is the housing allowance is not based on where you live, but on the zip code of your school.

To answer your second question and third, BAH is calculated based on how many days you attend classes. So if you first start class on the 10th of a month, you will only get paid 20 or 21 days of BAH for that month. It is the same if your class ends before the end of the month.  You only get paid for the days you attend class and it has nothing to do with leases, a full month of rent, move-in or move-out – just the days you attend class.

Thru the AFB Education program I was able to receive my BA degree.  Retired and used it to become a high school teacher. Command (SAC) support for ongoing education was terrific.  I was in a car pool with the March AFB Education Officer (Civilian) so was encouraged to continue.  Ended up with credits from seven colleges and when overseas some from the Maryland U profs-. I was approved to go for residence credit and BGE at Omaha U.  Retired four years latter and began teaching high school a month later.  This opportunity really changed my life and I have hopes that all present duty member will make the maximum use  of the education programs.

–Ed Ward

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the US Army Reserves and received the GI Bill on my enlistment contract. I served my term and received an honorable discharge several years ago. Recently (7 months ago) my husband signed his Post 9/11 GI Bill over to me. Am I able to receive both my reserve GI Bill benefits and my husband’s Post 9 /11 GI Bill benefits at the same time since they are different programs?

A: It is a good thing your husband transferred his Post 9/11 GI bill benefits to you as those are the only GI Bill benefits you now have. Army Reservists and National Guardsmen lose their Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) benefits upon discharge.

As the recipient of Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, you:

  • may start using your benefit immediately;
  • may use the benefit either while your husband is still in the Armed Forces or after he gets out;
  • are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance or book stipend while yor husband is still on active duty, but you are eligible for both once he is out;
  • can use your benefit for up to 15 years after his discharge.

Keep in mind, your husband can also take back all or any part of your Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefit while he is still in or after he is discharged.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am looking to get married in a year or so and I am currently in the process of getting my bachelor’ degrees. My father recently transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. If I get married- will that vanish since I will no longer be his dependent? Also- can the GI bill be retracted- as in can he take it back completely to use the remaining for himself? Thanks.

A:  Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage! Don’t worry, marrying in itself will not affect your transferred Post 9/11 GI bill benefit.  Here is an extract from the VA’s website on transferred benefits: “A child’s subsequent marriage will not affect his or her eligibility to receive the educational benefit; however, after an individual has designated a child as a transferee under this section, the individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.”

However as far as the second part of your question, as the above extract says, the service member retains the right to revoke and re-assign transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. As the “owner” of the benefits, yes your father could take back your benefits and either keep them for himself or transfer them to another sibling or to his spouse.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was in the National Guard and I was recently discharged. I served 5 years with no active duty (other than training). Am I still receiving my GI Bill?. What do I do? Can I keep filling out a request or is it all just gone? I was unclear on what to do so I still verified that I’m a student. What is the best way to go about this? I’m not trying to commit fraud, but I want to know what to do?

A: Under the Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR), once you are discharged, you lose your GI Bill benefits. Contact the VA immediately, through WAVE, and let them know when you were discharged from the ARNG.

What I’m afraid will happen is you will get into an overpayment situation – the VA is still paying you benefits even though you don’t have the Montgomery GI Bill- Selected Reserves any longer. That can get to be quite a mess with the VA Debt Management Center to get straightened out and to get the money paid back. The longer you delay contacting them, the more chance of an overpayment.  Good luck!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Wondering about TEB benefits transfer to my daughter.  I plan on reenlisting for Europe in 4 months in the Bravo zone. Is TEB only for needs of the Army or for any reenlistment of 4 years?

A: Any four-year re-enlistment qualifies. You have to have served at least six-years before agreeing to another four years.

Keep in mind the following things when transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your daughter:

  • she has to be current in DEERS before you can initiate the transfer;
  • you can transfer any or all of your education benefits to her;
  • she can start using her transferred benefits starting at age 18 or upon her getting her high school diploma;
  • she has until age 26 to use her transferred benefits;
  • she will get the housing allowance based on the zip code of her school paid at the E-5 with dependents rate;
  • she can get up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend;

As the TEB sponsor, you retain the right to revoke any transferred Army education benefits or if you did a partial transfer, you can transfer more months to her at any time. TEB is just one of the great features of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is great to see you thinking ahead so your daughter can share in the use of your earned GI Bill benefit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am currently on active duty. I know I fall under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and so forth. I am currently on stop-loss and I am due to ETS on Sept 14 of this year . We come back on the in July and we get 60 days to get out. My school semester starts in August. Will I be covered under the GI Bill for anything since I will be on terminal leave and can’t do the tuition assistance or anything?

A: Yes, you can use your Post 9/11 GI Bill in August.  You do not have to use Tuition Assistance even now; if you are on active duty, it usually makes more sense to use it now and save your GI Bill for when you are out, but many use a combination of Tuition Assistance and Tuition Top-Up which comes out of a soldier’s GI Bill entitlements.

So you can start your school application when ever you want.  The VA is currently running about 10-12 weeks behind in processing Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit applications, so start early – 3 to 4 months – before your school starts. If you have your Certificate of Eligibility, most schools do not make you pay tuition up front, but some do and then give it back to you once they are paid by the VA.  The earlier you get started, the more chance everything will be in place when you need it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am only eligible for 80% under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, does this mean that I will only receive 80% of the SGT’s BAH?

A: If you are at the 80% tier level, then yes, that means you will get 80% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, in addition to getting paid 80% of the book stipend. The VA will pay 80% of your tuition and fees, up to the maximum in-state public school rate for the state where your school is located. You will have to pay the remaining 20% of your tuition and fees.

To figure out how much Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance you would receive, use the BAH calculator and enter the zip code of your school in the Duty Zip Code field and select E-5 from the Pay Grade drop-down box. What you would get would be 80% of the E-5 with dependents rate. As far as the book stipend, you would get 80% of $41.67 per credit hour which figures out to  $33.34 per credit hour up to a yearly maximum of $1,000.

Keep in mind you won’t get a housing allowance if you are taking only online classes or your rate of pursuit is considered less than half-time ( which normally means taking less than 6 credit hours per term).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My ex-husband transferred 1-year of his GI Bill to our daughter in college. She received a full scholarship from the university she is attending. He states that once she receives this money he is going to take it from her. Can he do that? Thank you.

A: I’m assuming you are talking about him taking back the benefits he transferred to her. The answer is yes he can.  The service member retains the right to transfer and revoke education benefits at will. As noted in a DOD Press Release on Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, “Even after transferring the benefits, they remain the “property” of the service member who earned them, who can revoke them or redesignate who receives them at any time.” Your ex-husband can take them back and either keep them or give them to another one of his dependent children he has designated to receive benefits, if he has more children.

Just so you know, your daughter wouldn’t be able to use both anyway. Her scholarship would pay for her tuition and fees. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay her school directly for her tuition and fees, so it is not like she would get any money direct from either source anyway.

I’ve already run into a situation where a school pulled the scholarship money back when they found out the student had GI Bill benefits, so your ex-husband might actually be doing her a favor by pulling back her transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently in the Army Reserve as an E-5 and I’m enrolled in the last two classes I need to complete a BA.  My question is what are my options in pursuing a commission in the Army? — Paul

A: Paul, there are four ways to become an Army officer, however, only three could pertain to you being you are about to complete your BA degree:

  • Army ROTC;
  • Direct Commission;
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS).

The fourth way is an appointment to WestPoint. Because you almost already have your BA, you wouldn’t be accepted at WestPoint.

If you plan to continue using your education benefits to further your schooling by pursuing a graduate degree, you can join the Army’s two-year ROTC program. At the end of two years, you need to receive your graduate degree and then you would be commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

If you plan on going into the Medical, JAG, or Chaplian Corps, you may qualify for a Direct Commission. With a Direct Commission, your officer rank is determined by your professional branch, so you could start out higher than a Second Lieutenant.    You usually need to be towards the end of graduate school before being considered for a Direct Commission.

Probably, the most viable way (and the quickest) for you to become an Army officer is via Officer Candidate School (OCS).  Being you already have Basic Training and about to receive your BA degree, you would need to attend the 12-week course at Ft. Benning. At OCS, you will learn to plan and lead in both field and non-field environments.

Your best bet is to discuss all these officer commissioning options and graduate education benefits further with an Army Recruiter.