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

Q: Am I still eligible for FAFSA if I apply and begin receiving the Chapter 35 benefits? Also, are the benefits retroactive?

A: You certainly are and I encourage you to do so. Also don’t overlook applying for other scholarship, grants or work-study programs as Chapter 35 does not pay that much – up to $1,003 per month for up to 44 months.

Out of that money, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. So any additional money you qualify for, you can greatly use to fund the unpaid part of your education. I would only apply for student loans as a last resort as you have to pay these back. No use going into the working world $20,000 in debt, which is the current average for students using student loans.

As far as if Chapter 35 benefits are retroactive or not, they may be. The VA can go back up to one year and pay benefits, however, the trick is you had to be eligible for said benefits during the time you are trying to claim. For example if you are trying to claim benefits back in April 2013, but you were not eligible for Chapter 35 benefits until June, Then they would only retroactively pay you back to the date in June when you became eligible.

And if you think about it, that makes sense. How could they pay you benefits for a program you did not have at the time?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was recently informed that as a result of accepting College Loan Repayment Program money for my undergrad studies, I surrendered a portion of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am already approved for the MGIB, however, I am trying to decide if it may be more worthwhile to forgo it and use whatever reduced percentage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill that I still rate. I fulfilled the 3 years obligated service in repayment of the CLRP and have one year service on top of that, in which Post 9/11 GI Bill credit was accumulated. What I am trying to figure out is what does that actually look like in terms of payment for school? I understand that it still provides for 3 years of schooling, however, since the first 3 years of my service went to paying back CLRP, the Post 9/11 Bill money I would receive for those 3 years would be a portion of what somebody who did not take CLRP would receive. Is there a dollar amount that this comes out to, so that I can compare it to the money I would receive from the MGIB (which I rate in full)? Also, does the reduced payment affect the BAH that the Post 9/11 provides, or is it just tuition? You seem very keen to these topics and I have spent much time with few answers at the VA. Thank you for your time.

A: When you signed up for CLRP, you incurred a three-year obligation as you stated. During your first three years of service you were not accumulating any GI Bill benefits, neither Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill – zip, nada, nothing. With one full year of qualifying service – your last 12 months – credited toward your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would be at the 60% tier. If you don’t have a full twelve months since your three-year CLRP anniversary, then you are currently at the 50% tier.

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill are so different that it is somewhat hard to make a comparison. The MGIB does have a monetary cap to it, while the Post 9/11 GI Bill simply has up to 36 months of entitlement, regardless of what it costs. So once you have another two years of service, you could get up to $1,468 per month in MGIB benefits. Out of that amount, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

If using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in another two years, you would be at the 100% tier, meaning the VA would pay all of your tuition at a public school in your state of residency or up to $19,198.31 per year if you decide to attend a private school. On top of that, you would get the full housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking during each semester. At the beginning of each semester, you would get the book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit. There is a $1,000 cap per academic year on the book stipend.

Right now if you went to school, the VA would pay up to your tier percentage of either 50% or 60% in tuition and you would get that same percentage in book stipend money. If you are still serving, you would not be eligible for the housing allowance; no longer serving and you would get the same tier percentage of the housing allowance.

Because at this time with only one year of eligible GI Bill service, you do not rate the MGIB, so it makes it easy which GI Bill to use – the only one you have – the Post 9/11 GI Bill. However with another two years of service you could have both at 100%. Then you could choose whether to convert all 36 MGIB months over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get back your $1,200 contribution fee once you have used up the last of your converted Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, or use up all of your MGIB, convert and get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I commissioned into the Army, in 2008 through ROTC, but did not receive a ROTC Scholarship as it conflicted with another undergraduate academic scholarship I already had. My contract with the Army stated 3 years active and 5 years reserve time. I ETS’d approximately 4 years from my commissioning date. Am I eligible for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill? Thanks for your time.

A: Yes you are. And even if you had received a ROTC scholarship you may have been eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill with four years of service; it all depends on how much money you received from that scholarship. Usually if you received $3,500 or more in any one year while in the ROTC program, you are ineligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill or any GI Bill for that matter.

But because you didn’t take the scholarship, and with four years of service, you should be at the 100% tier. That means the VA would pay all of your tuition at the resident rate at a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year to attend a private school.

Also, if a full-time student, you would qualify for 100% of the housing allowance which is based on the zip code of your school. In addition, you would also get the full $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend money. Just know there is a $1,000 cap per academic year on this money, but it is usually enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters per year.

Another feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill that you might want to inquire about is the Yellow Ribbon Program. If your school is a part of it, they can pay up to 50% of the tuition difference and the VA will pay an equal amount on top of the tuition amount they already initially paid. This feature is particularly advantageous if you have to pay out-state tuition or attend an expensive private school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Long story short. Vet, 100% Eligibility, CT resident, Attending UConn. I’m considering using Leadership Scholar Program to attend an out of state school in 2015. I fully understand the Yellow Ribbon program. However, I don’t fully understand these three terms that I see when looking at a particular website:
==> Maximum Charge Per Credit Hour
==> Maximum Fees per term
==> GI Bill Cap ($19,198.31)

Based on the above three terms, I have the following questions:
1. When attending an out of state school, do you use your home state or school attending state rates to calculate help you will get?

2. How long is a term? 1 semester or 1 traditional year?

3. Say you are attending a school in state X with $100 credit hour max and $10,000 term max. You are taking 12 credits worth of class.
Cost Per credit for the school is $200. Will the GI Bill only pay for $1200 of the $2400 you owe because of the credit hour cap? If so, whats the point of a Term max, You would have to take hundreds of credit hours (impossible) to reach the max.

4. Credit hour Max vs Term max- to use several state with extreme circumstances…
A.-D.C. has $265 credit hour max and a $310 term max. So D.C. only pays for $310 dollars worth of schooling?
B.-Utah has $238 credit hour max and an $85,000 term max. Will Utah pay up to $85,000 dollars a year for schooling?

5. What’s this GI Bill cap. If its $19,000 then why does Utah say $85,000?

6. I will be attending an out of state college. So is the easy answer to all this, I will receive up to $19,000 in help…Period?

7. CT has a Credit hour max of $543 with a term max of $2660. The GI Bill already paid for over $10,000 worth of schooling for me this year alone (UConn is $363 per credit hour). So these “Maxes” are just BS…?

As you can see I am clearly and deeply confused about this entire convoluted backwards system. Thanks in advance for the help, I will probably have follow up questions that I forgot to write down. Sweet baby Jesus I need your help!

A: You are confused by what you are reading because most of it is out of date and no longer applies. The term and maximum caps per state went out in 2011 with the advent and passage of the GI Bill 2.0 legislation. So none of the terms/max information is relevant. With that out the window, it should make things a lot clearer. So let’s get to your questions that still apply, striking out #3 and 4.

The answer to question #1 is the tuition rate for the school you are attending applies. The Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay up to the resident tuition rate, so if you are paying non-resident rates, you would have to make up the difference.

For question #2, a term can be a semester, quarter, a year or the length of a particular program. It depends on how your school classifies a term.
The GI Bill cap you are referring to in question #5 applies if you are attending a private school. Right now, the VA could pay up to $19,198.31 per year for you to attend a private school. If attending a public school in your home state, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay up to 100% of your tuition. I think this also answers question #6.

And finally for question #7, as you can see by my answers of your previous questions, and if you take out the max/term cap portion, the system is not as convoluted as it appears when you were trying to wrestle with what turns out to be ancient history as far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill is concerned.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have an honorable discharge from my time on active duty from 2010-2013 and am currently using my GI Bill benefits from that time. I am also currently in the National Guard. If I were to receive a General under Honorable Conditions discharge from my current service in the National Guard, how would that effect my GI Bill benefits earned from my previous honorable discharge?

A: Your three years on active duty that successfully ended with an Honorable discharge secured your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Nothing at this point will take them away.

And to take that one-step further, you should be at the 100% tier on your New GI Bill, meaning the VA would pay your all of your tuition to attend a public school in the state of your residence or up to $19,198. 31 per year if you choose to go to a private school.

Regardless of you attend a public or private school, as a full-time student you would get the full authorized housing allowance amount, which is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take each semester. And it gets better; you would also get up to $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend money. However there is an annual limit – $1,000 per academic year.

So go ahead and enjoy your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement. If you use it wisely, it is enough for you to get a four-year degree. Just keep in mind that you only have 15 years from your date of discharge to use your New GI Bill benefits. After that they expire and are gone forever.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I got my A.A. at a Jr college in Florida before I entered into the military. I am currently using my Chapter 30 GI Bill to finish my B.A. in Nutritional Science from Kaplan University. As it stands I will graduate this Oct. just 3 months shy of 2 years. I’ve read where I can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill for furthering my education. I’ve also read where the VA has a rule of 48, so given that I only used Chapter 30 for a little under two years, I’m planning on taking, if I can, all online classes to finish. Is there a benefit to one over the other? I’ve also read that I only get 50% of the BAH if I go all online. If I take one class on campus am I able to get 100%? Thanks for any info you can give. — Andrew

A: Unfortunately Andrew, to get the additional 12 months of entitlement under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to first expend all of your Chapter 30 benefits. If you transfer now with 19 months of Montgomery GI Bill benefits left, you will only get 19 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and not the additional 12 months. That is just how it works.

As far as your best option to get your master’s degree, it most likely would be the Post 9/11 GI Bill and here’s why. As you know, graduate tuition is outrageously expensive. So if your can get your GI Bill to pick up that cost, it would benefit you greatly. Under the Chapter 30, it would pay you up to $1,648 per month, but you have to pay your own tuition, fees and books; you would have considerable out-of-pocket expenses.

However under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school. For a public school, that is at the resident rate at your tier percentage; for a private school it is up to $19,198.31 per year. And you would get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once per semester (until you reached your annual cap of $1,000).

By attending all online classes, your monthly housing allowance would be limited to a maximum of $714.50. And yes, by attending one class per semester that you can apply towards your degree plan at a local campus, you could get the full housing allowance authorized for the zip code of your local school. The book stipend calculates up to $41.67 per credit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: So I need to know first off if I can use my husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill to go to cosmetology school? I also need to know how to go about transferring his funds in order to use them. He also told me that I couldn’t go to school unless I was going in the state of LA where his reserve unit is located. Will I be paid BHA and receive other benefits as well … I’m so confused!

A: O.K., we’ll step through this logically so you can have a better understanding of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. First, yes, some cosmetology schools are approved by the VA for the GI Bill, including four Aveda Institutes in your home state of LA – in Baton Rouge, Covington, Lafeyette, and New Orleans.

Second, you can’t transfer his funds – he has to do it. The question is does he want to?

Third, because the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a federal GI Bill, it can be used anywhere in the United States, plus in many foreign countries. So he is not correct in saying you have to use it in LA.

Fourth, if he is not serving on active duty on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation or part of the AGR program, then yes, you would get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance – not BHA as that is a totally different pay benefit. You would also get up to $87 monthly in a book stipend by attending a non-degree course.

The VA would pay your tuition directly to your school, up to the tier percentage of his Post 9/11 GI Bill, so your housing money and book stipend would be your money to spend on things like your share of the unpaid tuition (if he is at a tier less than 100%) or you have to pay out-state tuition and to buy books and supplies you need for your course.

From the way your question is worded, I’m assuming either your husband truly does not understand the Post 9/11 GI Bill or he does not want to make a transfer of benefits to you and is throwing up these roadblocks so he doesn’t have to tell you he doesn’t want to transfer benefits to you. I think I have addresses all of the roadblocks of which none of them are valid.

Your next move is up to you.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father is trying to give me his GI Bill but he says he can’t because for some reason I’m not on his DEERS. How can I prove that he is my father and get the GI Bill transferred for my school?

A: Well first, your father is correct in saying he can’t transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill to you because you are not listed as a dependent in DEERS. The VA uses DEERS as their database of record as far as determining dependent status. If he would go to the TEB website and try to make a transfer of benefits to you, he would not find a record on you that he could access.

However, the bigger question is why are you not listed as one of his dependents? Are you over the age of 21 and no longer classified as a dependent? Were you never listed as a dependent of his? If the latter is the case, then why has he not taken the steps to prove you are his kid and to get you listed in DEERS? It is not your responsibility to prove you are his child – it is his responsibility.

You father should take your birth certificate to his I.D. Card Office and have them enter you into the DEERS database. Once you show up as one of his dependents, then he can go to the milConnect website and follow the instruction in the Transfer of Benefits Section to give you some or all of his 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement.

Once his transfer of benefits has been approved, then you need to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student using transferred benefits. Keep in mind you only have until age 26 to use your acquired education benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Where do I start? I am a Marine vet who is a little bit late in getting his education and would like to use my GI Bill to pay for schooling. I live in Oceanside, Ca. and want to attend a class for a BS in Business Administration. — Dana

A: Hi Dana. Whether you can use your GI Bill to get an education or not depends on which GI Bill you have and how long you have been out. The “shelf life” of most GI Bills start on the date of your last discharge. For the two most popular GI Bills – the Montgomery GI Bill(MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill – it is 10 years and 15 years respectively. To qualify for the later, you had to serve for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001.

If you are eligible for both GI Bills but have been out over 10 years, don’t despair. You could still transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 5 years to use your 36 months of benefit.

Or if you still have time left on your MGIB, you could use up your 36 months of entitlement, switch GI Bills and get an additional 12 months of education benefits under the New GI Bill.

But if your goal is a bachelor’s degree, switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away is probably the best way to go. The VA would pay your tuition directly to your school and you would get a housing allowance monthly that rivals what you would get under the MGIB or more, along with a book stipend once per semester (up to the $1,000 annual cap).

Under the MGIB, the VA would pay you up to $1,648 monthly to go to school, but you have to pay your own tuition, fees and books. As you can see, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the better way to go.

As far as how to start – you begin by submitting VA form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. In return you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility that you’ll need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi Ron, I’m active duty and plan on retiring next summer/fall with 22 years of service. I’ve got 27 months left under the MGIB. I’m currently enrolled in two online master’s programs, having not used the GI Bill on either, yet. I’ve done some calculations, and with the changes in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it seems that’s the way to go. This is especially true with the book stipend while on AD, and housing allowance after AD. I’m inclined to switch and use all the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to finish one of the degrees. However, is it possible to apply the benefits to two degrees?

A: I’ll start by answering your last question first. It is possible to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill to get two degrees, however, you can’t use it to work on both degrees at the same time. The VA will only fund one education plan at a time.

And the VA might not fund two master’s degrees. It depends if they are related or not. Typically the GI Bill is used progressively meaning you get one degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, and then use your GI Bill again to get a higher rated degree, such as a master’s degree. But if you can show a relationship between your two masters’ degrees and how it will benefit you to get both, they might agree to fund both of them.

As you know, with the Post 9/11 GI Bill and still serving, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school up to the resident rate at a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year at a private school. And you could get up to $1,000 per year in book stipend money. While on active duty, you would not be eligible for the housing allowance, but you would once off active duty. However, just so you know, being you are taking all online courses, your housing allowance as a full-time student would be limited to a maximum of $714.50.

But, take one class that pertains to your degree plan on campus at a local school and you could get the full housing allowance authorized for the zip code of your school – it could be twice of your online amount or more. Just something to consider.