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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: On a previous post, it stated that when you calculate the BAH for Post 9/11 GI Bill to select pay grade E-5 and the amount with dependents. Is this for all who are receiving these benefits?

A: Yes it is the same pay grade for all, unless you are an online-only student and I talk about that farther down in the post. Regardless of your rank when you got out, your current rank if you are still in, or if you have dependents or not, the same pay grade – an E-5 with dependents – applies. However, what can affect the amount you end up getting paid is:
• Your Post 9/11 GI Bill tier percentage
• The number of credits you take verses the number your school considers to be full-time
• The zip code of your school.

So to figure out how much you would get in housing allowance money, first look up your school’s zip code in the BAH Calculator. Then enter the zip code of your school. Now select E-5 from the drop-down Pay Grade menu. Click the Calculate button.

If you are at a Post 9/11 GI Bill tier less than 100%, multiply the results by your percentage. If your rate of pursuit is less than full-time, multiply the value from the previous calculation by the number of credits you are taking and divide by the number of credits your school considers to be full-time. That is approximately the amount you would receive each month in housing allowance.

Of course, if you are at the 100% tier and considered a full-time student, you do not have to make the last two calculations.

For online-only full-time students, they are locked in at a maximum amount of $714.50 per month for housing allowance. The E-5 with dependents calculation does not apply to them, however the lesser percentage and rate of pursuit calculations could depending on their individual situations.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello and thanks for all the info! I have 12 classes (2 semesters) before I graduate. I have 5 months and 28 days of benefits left. 12 credits are full time at my school. I have calculated that my next semester will use 4 months and 28 days ([111 days * 16 credit hours]/12) leaving me with 30 days for my last semester. I am confused with post 9/11 v1 and v2. Do I assume correctly that I will have to pay for the rest of the semester’s tuition and my BAH will end after those 30 days?

A: No, you will not have to pay the rest of your tuition nor will your housing allowance stop once you run out of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits mid-semester. As far as your entitlement use calculation, it may or may not be correct. While your formula is correct, I’m learning that at some schools, entitlement use remains the same once you take enough credits to be classified as full-time. They don’t charge for extra credits above their full-time threshold.

In other words, you are not charged more entitlement if you take 16 credits than you are if you take 12. But that is based on how your school records their information. If that is the case at your school, then you would have 67 days of entitlement left after the first semester instead of 30 days.

But it really doesn’t matter how it is calculated. According to the VA rules, once you run out of GI Bill benefits, they will continue to pay you through to the end of the semester. However, that is not the case if you still have benefits left but hit your delimitation date – the date 15 years from your discharge date when your Post 9/11 GI Bill expires. In that situation, your housing allowance stops immediately and by law, the VA can’t continue paying you.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if there was a list of some sort that had all of the schools that paid for tuition and the stipend under Chapter 35 education benefits because in NE the chapter 35 pays for both but in other states it does not. Or am I receiving something else that pays the tuition I’m not aware of?

A: Because Chapter 35 is a Federal GI Bill program, the amount or what it pays does not vary between states or territories. So most likely you are getting a state benefit from the Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs that is similar to Chapter 35.

In looking at Nebraska’s state veterans benefits, you might be talking about their Waiver of Tuition. The eligibility requirements are similar to those of Chapter 35, so they could be easily confused, but instead of you getting a monthly amount to apply toward tuition as with Chapter 35, Nebraska waivers the tuition for one degree, diploma, certificate from a community college or one bachelor’s degree.

Under Chapter 35, you would get a maximum of $1,003 per month for up to 44 months as a full-time student and you have to pay your own tuition. With a Waiver of Tuition, your tuition is paid for up to four 9-month academic years.

In reality, I think you are probably getting both – the Waiver of Tuition program is paying your tuition and Chapter 35 is providing you your stipend. Because one is federal and one state, you are entitled to both.

To answer your question, no I don’t know of a comprehensive list, but all the public schools in Nebraska should be eligible for the Waiver of Tuition program. What states offer their veterans varies widely. It runs the gambit from no education benefits at all to a full-blown State GI Bill, such as the one offered by the State of Minnesota.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am attending a trade school with a high cost ($7,300). Although it is only 2 weeks, my understanding is it would use 9 months of my Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am eligible for the Montgomery as well and have not used either. If I used my Montgomery GI Bill to cover 60% ($4,380) of the cost and then transferred the remaining to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, how many months would I have remaining?

A: With the limited amount of information in your question, I really can’t give you a solid answer. But I can tell you this, you would not use up 9 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement for a 2-week course. In most Post 9/11 GI Bill situations, entitlement use is on a one-for-one basis meaning you would use up about a half month of entitlement for a two-week course.

However, if you were to use the Montgomery GI Bill, that is a different story. You would use up one month of entitlement for each $1,648 dollars paid out. So for your $7,300 course, you would use up about 4.3 months of entitlement. I can’t tell you how much entitlement you would have left because I don’t know how much you had before starting the course.

Due to you referencing using your MGIB to pay 60% of the cost, it leads me to believe you are talking about an accelerated course. Those rules could apply because your tuition amount is over twice of what you would receive from the MGIB for the same amount of time. The other requirement is that you are taking a high tech industry course and plan to work in that field when through with the course. However, only students using either Montgomery GI Bill or REAP are eligible for the accelerated course program.

Because students using the Post 9/11 GI Bill are not eligible, you would not be able to pay the other 40% using the New GI Bill. If you are in an accelerated program, then your best bet is to stick with the MGIB. However, if you are not in an accelerated program, then you may be better off using the Post 9/11 GI Bill as it would pay all of your tuition, provided you are at the 100% tier and not paying out-state tuition.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired 30 Sept 2004 with 20+ years of active duty. At the time of my retirement, I was not informed I could transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member. Last year while deployed to Afghanistan as a contractor, I saw an AFN commercial which stated if I was not informed of my transferability benefit prior to retiring, I could make an appeal. My question is, was the AFN commercial correct? Upon talking to the VA I was told I could not transfer my Post 911 GI Bill benefits because I was retired. Do I have any avenue I can take to transfer my Post 911 GI Bill benefits now?

A: No you do not have an avenue of appeal and I’ll explain why in a minute. The reason you were not informed before you got out in 2004 that you could transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members is because the Post 9/11 GI Bill did not come into existence until 2009. What you had heard in the commercial applies to career soldiers and airmen who retired on or after August 1, 2009. If they can prove they were not notified of the Post 9/11 GI Bill transferability option, they may be granted a one-time provision to make a transfer request.

However, those two branch career servicemembers retiring before August 1, 2009, but after December 10, 2001, do not share that same recourse – as a matter of fact they, as you, have no recourse.

It has always been odd to me why the group of career servicemembers who retired before August 1, 2009, even though they are fully qualified as far as meeting transferability service requirements, do not share the same opportunities to make a transfer of benefits.

In the weeks and days leading up to the Post 9/11 GI Bill implementation on August 1st, there was much turmoil and inaccurate information about who could or couldn’t make a transfer request. Some servicemembers would have stayed in after the August 1st date had they known they could have transferred education benefits to a spouse or dependent child.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I apologize in advance if my question has already been answered somewhere else in this blog. I currently have the MGIB and have about 4 years of active service left before I retire. I had a break in service for 3 years (1996-1999) at which time I was in the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) and I did use some of the MGIB during my break in service. What I would like to do is transfer some of the benefits of the Post-911 GI Bill to my sons if that is possible, but from what I gather, obtaining the Post-911 is not automatic… (Even though my admin office told me it was) I would like to know what I need to do in order to obtain the Post-911 GI Bill and transfer benefits to my children.

A: What your admin office told you is true in the sense that if you served for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001, you do have some Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility without having to do anything further. As you might remember, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) had a $1,200-contribution fee that had to be paid first in order to qualify for it; there is no contribution fee for the Post 9/11 GI Bill – you get it free just from your service to your country. Being you are still serving you should have full eligibility in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

However, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is not automatic in the sense that it’ll just appear out of nowhere. You have to apply to use it and in the process, give up what benefits you have left under the MGIB. So because you have used some of your MGIB benefits, the most number of Post 9/11 GI Bill months you can get is the same number of months you have left under the MGIB.

To make a transfer of benefits request, go to the milConnect website and follow the Transfer of Benefits Section. Once your transfer is complete, each son receiving benefits from you will have to go to the eBenefits website and fill out VA Form 22-1990e. In return, each one will get a Certificate of Eligibility that they will need when enrolling in school as GI Bill students.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Why is there a 10-year limit on when you can get education assistance if you served on Active Duty for 15 years? What if you have been in the Reserves 11 years after the 10 year active duty limit? Is there any other way to get assistance? Thank you kindly for your help.

A: The reason why there is a 10-year delimitation limit on using Montgomery GI Bill benefits and many other GI Bills is because Congress wrote the Bills that way. There has been talk on and off through the years to change it to either no limitation or make the expiration date 10 years after you start using benefits, but as of yet, neither has made any progress.

The other thing many servicemembers do not know is that their 10-year clock starts at their last discharge from a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States (of which the National Guard and Reserves of the different branches are a part of). So while you have been off active duty more than 10 years, if you have not yet gotten out of the Reserves, you have not even started your 10-year clock yet.

You most likely are eligible for both Montgomery GI Bills – the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty, and if you signed up for six years in the Reserves, the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves. If so, know that your MGIB-SR will expire either once you have been in the Reserves for 10 years past your Notice of Eligibility (NOBE) or at the point of discharge from the Reserves. But then you’ll still have 10 years to use your MGIB-AD.

An if you deployed while in the Reserves for more than 90 days after September 10, 2001, you may also have some eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you have 15 years from your last date of discharge to use that GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My children names are currently attached to my husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill. We would like to change it to put my name on so I can start school in the fall. Please help! Thanks. — Keva

A: That may or may not be possible Keva. The big question is if your husband is still serving or not. If not, and he had not given you any Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement when he was serving, there is nothing that anyone can do now for him to be able to revoke transferred benefits from his kids and reallocate them to you.

However, if he is still serving, or he had made a transfer to you while serving, then he can revoke some or all unused benefits from his children and give them to you.

Many savvy military members give each child and their spouse at least one month of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit while still serving. Doing it this way it makes it extremely easy to move entitlement around from one family member to another.

If he is still serving, he may have to extend his enlistment out enough so that he has at least another four years to serve before he could get a transfer request approved.

I suspect he is already out and you never had benefits before in which case nothing can be done to transfer benefits to you now.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: An odd situation: I am in the National Guard and being I have done time on active duty and I am pretty sure I qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill now. I have always been enlisted in the Guard and I claim currently claim the Chapter 1606 GI Bill. I want to do vocational pilot school and I am wondering if it would be beneficial to use my remaining 13 months by switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or if there is a way to exhaust my GI Bill then switch over. I am a graduating senior this May 2014. Any tips? I want to maximize my benefits and I eventually want to pursue higher education as well.

A: First, let’s establish that you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You active duty may have qualified you as Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible, depending on the type of active duty. If you deployed under a Title 10 in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan for more than a 90-day period, then you most likely have the Post 9/11 GI Bill at least at the 50% or greater tier.

However, if your active duty was Basic Training and AIT, then no you are not eligible as training time does not count as eligible time for Post 9/11 GI Bill purposes.

So assuming you are Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible, the most you could get in entitlement by switching would be the 13 months that you have left under Chapter 1606. If you first exhaust those months and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get an additional 12 months of entitlement.

I’m not sure what you mean by “vocational pilot”. If you mean you want to get your private pilot’s license, then your GI Bill will not pay for it (in most cases). However, if you already have your private pilot’s license and want to pick up commercial pilot certifications, then some of the costs would be paid for by your GI Bill.

Now let’s compare the two GI Bills to see which one would be the best one for you to use for pilot’s training. Under Chapter 1606, you could get up to $362 per month to go to school and you have to pay all of your own costs. Don’t forget you would also have your monthly drill pay, Federal Tuition Assistance and possibly some state education benefits. You would use up entitlement at the rate of one month for each $362 dispersed to you.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would pay the lesser of either the actual cost of training or up to $10,970.46 per year, plus you would get the housing allowance and book stipend. Entitlement use would be one month for each month of school.

I think your best bet would be to focus on the here and now and switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It would pay the biggest share of your pilot training.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My daughter was given her ex-spouses Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits as part of their divorce decree. She was attending school and her ex-husband revoked her funding and now she has received a bill from the US Treasury for $9,000, PLUS $3,000 in interest. She is unable to pay this amount back; what can she do? She was in school and has recently had a new baby. Please could you give me some advice?

A: In the case of a military couple getting divorced, the court can either allow the spouse to receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance and book stipend for the duration of the number of months of entitlement that he had transferred to her, or the military member can continue to draw BAH and pay the spouse alimony. It sounds like her lawyer went with or agreed to the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance route.

And that would have provided her money and paid for her tuition for the number of months he had transferred to her. Unfortunately, the court cannot mandate that he leave her those remaining months of entitlement and therein lies the problem: he revoked the months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement that he had given to her.

As a military member, it is his right to control his entitlement (even after retiring) and therefore he can at any time revoke and reallocate or just revoke and use the entitlement himself (or revoke it and not do anything with it). So while the court mandated her to get the housing allowance and book stipend, they can’t mandate that he doesn’t take back the entitlement leaving her with nothing.

I can understand the $9,000 bill, but not the $3,000 in interest unless she has let this go on for a long time. I’m assuming she has already contacted her lawyer and he could do nothing for her. So, the best thing for her to do now is to get in contact with the VA Debt Collection Center and find out her options. She can set-up a monthly payment plan to start paying it back a little at a time or pay it back in one lump sum (which doesn’t sound like a viable option).