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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the Navy in 2004 and will get out in 2014. I have the MGIB and am eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am interested in pursuing my MBA but do not anticipate it taking more than 18 months. Can I use my MGIB for flight school, and then transfer to the Post 9/11 for Grad school?

A: Whether you can use your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) for flight school or not depends on what you are considering “flight school”. If you mean to get your private pilot’s license, then most likely the answer is no.

However if you already have your private pilot’s license and you want to pick up some additional commercial pilot qualifications/certifications, then yes, you can use your MGIB. Just so you know, your MGIB would only pay you up to 60% of your flight training costs. So you have to foot the bill on the other 40%. As far as entitlement use, you would use up one month of entitlement for each $1,648 the VA pays you.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it pays up to the full cost of the training or up to $10,970.46 per academic year, whichever is less. Ten thousand dollars doesn’t go far when talking about flight training. But besides the VA paying your tuition directly to your school, you would also get a housing allowance and book stipend. As far as entitlement use, you would use up a day for each day in the course.

I think you are on the right glide path to use your MGIB for flight school. Just be sure to keep back at least 18 months for grad school and then convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and let the VA pay your high grad school tuition costs.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, do I get 3 years automatically? What about the 12-month extension? I never used my Montgomery GI Bill and I served almost 9 years. I’m separating this September 2014. Please help. Thank you!

A: If you switch from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you have never used your MGIB entitlement, then you would get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under the MGIB – 36 months. If you first used up all of your MGIB entitlement before switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you would get the additional 12 months of entitlement.

Under the MGIB or Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have enough benefit to get a four-year degree. The biggest difference is how each GI Bill pays. Under the MGIB, you would get up to $1648 per month to go to school. Out of that amount you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 100% of the resident tuition directly to your school if you attend a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year to attend a private school.

Regardless of your venue, you would get on average $1,300 per month in housing allowance. Also, once per semester, you would also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit. However, there is a $1,000 per year cap on the book stipend, but it is enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters per academic year.

If your goal is to get a four-year degree, then it is almost a no-brainer to convert. If you have aspirations of getting a graduate degree, then you may want to use your MGIB for your four-year degree and then convert so you would have 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit to use for part of your graduate degree. Grad school tuition is so much more expensive than undergraduate tuition.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How are part-time enrolled days calculated when the terms in a semester overlap. For instance, Term C is 2/10/14-4/04/14 and Term D is 3/17/14-5/09/14. So there is an overlap of 19 days, but all still part-time. I am taking 6 hours a semester and 9 hours is full-time. How do used entitlements get calculated in this scenario? I am guessing there would be three different calculations that get added at the end? Respectfully, Joey.

A: You are right Joey. Entitlement use is calculated based on the number of credits you are taking verses the number of credits your school considers full-time. Being you are taking 6 credits, I’m assuming each term is 3 credits.

So your entitlement used in Term C from 2/10/14 to 3/16/14 would be 3/9ths of 35 days or about 12 days. From 3/17/14 to 4/03/14, you would be taking 6 credits for 18 days which would be another 12 days of entitlement use – 6/9ths of 18 days. The final part of Term D would be from 4/05/14 to the end at 5/09/14, 3 credits for 35 days or 12 days of entitlement use – 3/9ths of 35 days. So from an entitlement use, you would use up 36 days of your benefit for Terms C and D.

Something else to know is that to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, you have to take at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers full-time. During the non-overlap portions of your terms, you would not meet the minimum, however for the overlap portion, you would, so you should get 2/3rds of the full housing allowance for those 18 days.

In the end, you do have three separate calculations that get added together for total entitlement use for both terms.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ron, here’s another twist to the Post 9/11 GI Bill conversion question for you: I’ve used some, but not all, Chapter 30 benefits over the past 10 years. The remaining 10 months I have expire in April of this year. I’m attending graduate school for four years this coming Fall. The VA has given me a different answer every time I’ve called them: – I should convert to Post 9/11 before the 10-year expiration date. That would give me the 10 months to use under Post 9/11 for another 5 years. – I should let the 10 months I have under Chapter 30 *expire* and *then* apply for Post 9/11 benefits. This would provide me with 10 + 12 = 22 months of Post 9/11 benefits (believe this was related to the 48-month rule).

Since I’ve already used some Chapter 30 for my only service period (2002–2004, active Army), all I have is the 10 months of Chapter 30 and that’s it. I’ve been in school taking graduate school pre-reqs for the last two years and specifically did *not* claim any benefits because I was told I’d be able to use them under Post 9/11 in grad school (which is much more expensive than the pre-reqs). I can’t get a straight answer from anyone. Thank you SO much for your help.

A: What you were told is true – grad school tuition is much higher price than undergraduate. And you can convert your unused Chapter 30 benefits to the Post 9/11 GI Bill (and at this point it is your only viable option).

Because I have not heard that the VA recently changed their policy, it is my belief that you would still only get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under Chapter 30, regardless if it has expired or not – 10 months. But because you don’t plan on using your GI Bill until after it expires in April, you have nothing to lose by waiting to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill until after your Chapter 30 benefits expire. Not only would you get another five years to use up your remaining benefit of 10 months, but you would see if you would get the additional 12 months.

However you should know that because you had less than three years of service after September 10, 2001, your Post 9/11 GI Bill would only pay up to 80% of your tuition, housing allowance and book stipend if you attend a public school or up to 80% of the maximum private school tuition of $19,198.31 per year.

Regardless if you get the additional 12 months added on to your existing 10 months, expect to have some pretty healthy out-of-pocket costs for four years of grad school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can you as a person use their parents’ Montgomery GI Bill then their own after joining the Army Reserves? Is that double tapping? Would that person be able to stack both GI Bills on top of each other? Or would they have to use one or the other?

A: You would not be able to use either parents’ Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty because that GI bill does not have benefit transfer option, meaning your parents would not be able to transfer it to you even if they wanted to. So the MGIB-AD is not an option.

If you signed up for at least six years in the Army Reserve, then you have your own GI Bill – the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR). However on the scale of GI Bills, it is at the bottom as far as what it pays, currently $362 per month. Out of that amount, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

You would also be eligible for the Federal Tuition Assistance, have your monthly drill pay and any education benefits your state offers its servicemembers or veterans. So in the end it can add up, but most likely you would still have out-of-pocket expenses.

Another GI Bill option would be to earn the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As a Reservist, you could deploy for a one-year tour and get 36 months of entitlement at the 60% tier or enlist in the regular Army for three years and get the same entitlement, but at the 100% tier. Both are becoming harder to do with the war winding down and a Reduction In Force (RIF) in place, but not impossible.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am moving out soon and I was wondering if my dad’s G.I. Bill would help me with living expenses too? He has been retired for like 5 or 6 years now and he never used it before. I think he enlisted in Pennsylvania but he might have in North Carolina. I called the education center on post down here in North Carolina and they said that they would send me a message with the information I would need but I have not received one. Please help!

A: Unless your dad transferred some or all of his Post 9/11 GI Bill to you while he was still serving, you would not have any Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to use. And it would be too late know for your dad to make a transfer as he is already retired. But from the way you worded your question, you sound sure that you have benefits you can use.

Under the New GI Bill, the VA would pay up to the resident tuition and fees at a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year at a private school. If you are at the 100% tier, but you have to pay out-state tuition or your private school tuition exceed what the VA will pay, inquire whether your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program. If so, your school could pay up to 50% of the difference with the VA paying an equal amount on top of the tuition they already paid.

If you are at a lesser percentage, then the amount they would pay would be less and you would have to pay the difference.

You also would qualify for the monthly housing allowance which would help you with your living expenses. That amount is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking (and multiplied by your tier percentage).

Also, each semester, up to the $1,000 per year cap, you would also get a book stipend. That calculates out at $41.67 per credit or about $500 per 12-credit semester.

Lastly, where he enlisted doesn’t change the amount you would get in Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as it is a federal program.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am an active Reservist. I am currently on my second year long deployment, and I have 6 months of IET training. I have done approximately 90 days of other training on orders. What of all of this counts as service towards my Post 9/11 GI Bill, and what sort of training or orders can I go on from my unit to max my GI Bill out, do I need to deploy again? Thanks. — James

A: With less than 24 months of eligible Post 9/11 GI Bill service, Title 10 or Title 10 in support of a contingency operation (such as Iraq or Afghanistan to name just a couple of qualifying operations) are generally the only orders that count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility James. However, I listed a couple of exceptions below.

Even your 6 months of IET time initially did not count, but since you will have 24 months of eligible service once your current deployment is completed, that time will now count too, bringing you up to 30 months of eligible service. Once you are finished with this deployment, you’ll be at the 90% tier. Another six months of eligible time would put you at the 100% tier.

As far as what time or kind of orders count, unless you are in the AGR program, Army Guard Reserve as a full-time employee, the only other non-Title 10 orders that count are Title 32 Section 502(f) – the type of orders used for the purpose of responding to a national emergency. If it does not specifically state Section 502(f), it doesn’t count as far as Title 32.

So unless some of your other time was Section 502(f), your best bet would be to deploy again for at least 6 months so you can max out on your tier percentage.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I was active duty Air Force from 1995-1999. After my enlistment was fulfilled, I joined the Air National Guard immediately after. I was on Title 10 active duty orders following the September 11 attacks for 11 months as well as on active duty orders for four months in 2003 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. My question is this: by serving on active duty orders in excess of 90 days after my honorable discharge from active duty, will either of the cited examples above reset my ten year waiting period? And if not, do the above examples qualify me for the Post-9/11 GIB? Thank you very much for your time and insight.

A: Yes, your additional service did reset your Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) ten-year window. All it takes is at least 90 days of qualifying service after your last discharge. Because your ten years starts from your last date of discharge, which would have been in 2003, your “new” ten-year window would have ended last year – 2013.

But don’t despair, you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With 15 months of qualifying active duty service after September 10, 2001, you would be at the 60% tier meaning the VA would pay up to 60% of your in-state tuition and fees and you would get 60% of the housing allowance and book stipend. You would have up to 15 years from your last date of discharge, until 2018, to use up your remaining Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement.

As far as how much entitlement you have left to use, it would be the same number of months that you had left from your MGIB-AD. If you did not have any entitlement left, even if it has expired, then you would get the 12 additional months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but not both.

If you enlisted for at least six year in the Air National Guard, you also most likely had the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), however, that GI Bill ended when you got out, so there aren’t any benefits left to use if you did have it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If you used all 36 months of your Post 9/11 GI Bill from active duty service and then join the Reserves, do you get a new GI Bill since it’s different from active duty? Would this entitle you to 12 additional months of GI Bill benefits under the rule of “48″ and would you still get the maximum benefit from your previous years of service?

A: I’m not sure what you mean when you said “still get the maximum benefit from your previous years of service”. If you used up all 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill, what benefit that you acquired while on active duty would you have left to use?

If you had the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty, you had to give that up when you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Also, you should have gotten back your MGIB $1,200 contribution fee when you used up the last of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits; it should have come as part of your last housing allowance.

Anyway, if you sign up for at least 6 years in the Reserves, you would be eligible 12 months of the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) under the Rule of 48. However, that GI Bill only pays about $362 per month to go to school full-time, but you would also qualify for Federal Tuition Assistance, monthly drill pay and possibly other education benefits specific to your state. When you add it all together it starts to add up, but still nothing like the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Do we still have the Soldiers to Teachers Program?

A: Yes we do, but it is a DANTES-managed program through the Proud to Serve Again initiative and called Troops to Teachers (TTT). To qualify, your last period of service has to be characterized as Honorable. Basically, the program’s mission is to recruit quality teachers for schools that serve low-income families throughout America . The TTT program helps relieve teacher shortages in critical areas, especially in math, science, special education and other high-need subject areas.

Secondly, the program assists military personnel in making successful transitions to teaching as a second career. The program consists of counseling and referral services to help you find a job teaching pre-Kindergarten through high school. If you agree to teach in one of the critical areas in an impoverished area for at least three years, you could also qualify for either a $5,000 or $10,000 grant.

Just so you know, TTT is not a certification program for you to become a teacher – you have your GI Bill for that financial help. Once you have (or if you already have) your teaching degree and required certifications for the state you are interested in teaching, go ahead and apply.

The Troops to Teachers program is a great way to continue to serve your nation and to help teach and mentor students who do not have a role model to emulate.