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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I came across your blog and noticed you were very informative on the GI Bill topics. Therefore, I would like to ask a few questions.

I am eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) and the Reservist Education Assistance Program (REAP) at the 40%.

I was given the option to relinquish either the MGIB-SR or the REAP to receive the Post 9/11. So, as far as I can understand; would it mean that I am eligible to using two benefits? I am assuming that I would be receiving the Post 9/11 at the 6-12 months tier level at 50% benefit since I’ve been overseas about 9 months excluding training and schooling.

As I tried to research more regarding what is the best to use comparing those three options, I cannot come up with using the REAP with the other two.

I am now in school at the moment taking one class in the process of pursuing my bachelor’s degree. So, as of now I am paying out of my pocket due to the fact that the VA didn’t process my packet for my benefits. Anyhow, would I be better off having the Post 9/11 at that tier level and the MGIB-SR or either one of them along with the REAP at 40%. Which would I benefit most out of?

Thank you for your time and effort.

A: Under the Rule of 48, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, you could get up to a maximum combined benefit of 48 months. And what the VA is asking is that in order to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which GI Bill are you willing to give up out of your two other GI Bills. So if you take your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you would get up to 12 additional months of either REAP or the MGIB-SR.

What I can tell you is that your Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) is worth about $362 per month. As a Selected Reservist, you would also be eligible for Tuition Assistance, which can pay up to $250 per credit (with a $4,500 yearly cap).

Your Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) GI Bill would pay you up to $659 per month to go to school with less than one year of eligible service. Under either GI Bill, you would be responsible to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. Without knowing your school’s tuition rate, I can’t calculate your net after paying education costs.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 50% of your in-state tuition and you would get 50% of both the monthly housing allowance and book stipend. I can tell you your book stipend would amount to about $250 per semester. I can’t tell you what the housing allowance would run as it depends on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking.

Sorry, but with so many variables, I can’t give you a definite answer as far as which GI Bill you should give up. The best advice is to run the numbers of each one and give up the one that would net (after paying all related costs) you the least.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear expert, I am eligible for 100% benefits on the Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, I was only given a period of 12 months through transferred benefits. It says I am eligible until my 23rd birthday. What exactly will happen when those 12 months are up? Will it affect me differently because I am going to an out of state school instead of an in state school?

A: With 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you would be able to go to school for three semesters. During the last semester, you most likely will run out of benefits midway through, but the VA would keep paying you until the end of the semester.

When you use up your 12 months of benefits, the VA would stop paying your tuition at the in-state resident rate, so you would be responsible for paying all of your own tuition instead of just the difference between out-state and resident tuition.

And you would no longer receive the housing allowance, so you’ll have to arrange for other sources of money in order to pay monthly bills. You would no longer receive the book stipend, which can be as high as $500 per semester, so you’ll have to buy your own books. So yes it would hit you in the pocket hard.

Before that time arrives though, you should be working on getting scholarships, grants, getting into a work/study program, or getting a part-time job, so you have money coming in to pay for these things once your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits end. Otherwise, you might be left at the mercy of student loans or worse yet, have to drop out of school.

You know what is going to happen and when it would happen, so prepare for it now.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My step dad adopted me when I was a child. He wrote me and gave me a schooling GI Bill, but he left about 5 years later. I still have his last name, but I do not know where he is. I did not know this until recently, when my brother who is currently in the Air Force, called me and told me I could still go to school off the GI Bill. Is this true and if so how do I apply? I really need to know and I want to go to school – I have nothing else going for me. Please help. Thank you!

A: The only way for you to know if you have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you can use or not is to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website. If you have benefits to use, they will send you back a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school. If not, then you will receive a letter indicating you do not have benefits eligible for you to use.

You did not indicate how old you are, but keep in mind that you only have up to age 26 to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Unused benefits at that time will expire, unless your step-dad revokes them and either gives them to another younger dependent of his that has had or currently has Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits already, or uses them himself. If he chooses to keep them, he has 15 years from his date of discharge to use them.

If your step-dad did transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you, he gave you quite a gift as I sense you already appreciate. It would be wise of you to request your certificate and see what happens. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My son is in the National Guard and recently completed BCT and AIT. He plans to attend a local college next semester. Although he qualifies for both the Post 9/11 and Montgomery GI Bills because he has had >90 days active duty, he has only been enlisted for 1 year. Would it benefit him more to use the Montgomery GI Bill first since he doesn’t qualify for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill? Since he is actively drilling and enlisted for 6 years, will he be eligible to receive 100% of the Post 9/11 in 2 more years because he will have 36 months enlisted and actively drilling?

A: I hate to burst your bubble, but if the only active duty your son has is his BCT and AIT, he is not eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As a National Guardsman, the only time that counts towards Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility is deployment time on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Afghanistan.

A one-year deployment would put him at the 60% tier, meaning the VA would then pay 60% of his resident tuition, and pay him 60% of his housing allowance and book stipend. Three years of eligible service would put him at the 100% tier.

And the Montgomery GI Bill he has is the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). That GI Bill is far different from the Montgomery GI Bill those on active duty receive. Under the MGIB-SR, he would get about $362 per month to go to school full-time, verses up to $1,648 per month for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty.

The only other way your son could become eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be if he was selected for a position in the Army Guard Reserve (AGR). Then his time would count day-for-day and he would get full eligibility in three years. These are full-time positions that are very similar to being on active duty.

Unless he deploys or goes into the AGR program, he will never get more than his MGIB-SR for a GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve got a question about a fellowship and out-of-state tuition at a public university. I’ll be doing a master’s program at a public school. In-state tuition is $30,000 but I’m out-of-state which is $45,000. I also got a $10,000 fellowship from the school for tuition and fees. Would I be able to use the fellowship for the extra $15,000 out-of-state tuition the GI Bill doesn’t cover or would the VA basically reduce it’s payment to $20,000 because of the scholarship? I’ll be using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and I’ve already left active duty. Thanks for your help. This is the best GI Bill Q&A I’ve come across!

A: The VA would reduce the amount of tuition it pays by the amount of your fellowship. What many people don’t know is with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA is the last entity to pay in the case of multiple financial aids. If the money is fenced, that is only can be applied toward tuition and fees, the VA ends up paying less.

On the other hand, if your financial aid is not fenced, then you can use the money for anything and the VA still pays the same amount it would otherwise pay.

Also because the VA only pays in-state tuition, it would end up paying $20,000 ($30,000 – $10,000) of your tuition cost. You would be responsible to pay the difference of about $25,000.

However, your fellowship would not affect the amount the VA pays you in housing allowance or book stipend money.

One program that might be worth your while to look into is the Yellow Ribbon Program. If your school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA, they could pay up to 50% of the tuition difference; the VA would pay an equal amount which could leave you with nothing to pay. If your school has agreed to a percentage less than 50%, then you would end up with a small amount left to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: At what percentage does the Post 9/11 GI Bill pay better than Chapter 1607?

A: It is impossible for me to even speculate as there are so many variables to consider. But let’s use a one-year deployment as an example. Under Chapter 1607 (Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)), you would get up to $988.80 per month. Out that, you have to pay all of your own tuition, books, fees and other education-related expenses.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition is paid for up to the resident level. Of course how much the VA pays varies from school to school as tuition rates vary widely. And the monthly housing allowance also varies as it depends on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. The other payment you get when using the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the book stipend. The amount you get calculates at $41.67 per credit times your tier percentage (with a yearly cap of $1,000).

Let’s use a hypothetical example a year at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for comparison purposes. With a one-year eligibility, you would make $988.80 per month under REAP and have to pay all education expenses. Nine months of payments would earn you $8.899.20.

Under the New GI Bill for zip code 68588 (University of Nebraska at Lincoln) you would get 60% of $1,131 or $678.60 per month. Assuming you are taking a full-time load, you would also get 60% of the $41.67 per credit figure or $300.02 per semester for a total gross of $6,707.44.

According to the U of N -Lincoln website, tuition and fees for an undergraduate living off campus are $8,060 for two semesters with another $1,060 for books. So an academic year at U of N would cost $9,120, meaning you would have to make up the difference of $220.80 under REAP.

But for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, 60% of your $8,060 tuition would be paid by the VA leaving you left with $3,194 to pay. You would get $6,104.70 in housing allowance with another $600.04 in book stipend leaving you with a deficit of $459.96. So subtract out $3,194 and $459.96 from $6,707.44 and you are left with a net of $3,053.48. So while under REAP it would have cost you $220.80 out of pocket, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would have made just over $3,000.

On the surface you do gross more under REAP with a one-year qualifying deployment, but you end up netting more under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As your school and eligibility time changes, so will your results.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My spouse and I are both planning to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill next year. Are we both able to receive monthly housing allowance at the same time? If I attend online university full time will I qualify for housing allowance at all?

A: Assuming you are not currently serving anymore, yes, you would both get a Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance. I mentioned “a” monthly housing allowance as the VA pays on a different structure if you go to school online.

The most you could get by going to school online full-time is $714.50. If your spouse attends classes on campus, she would potentially make at least twice of what you would be making.

You might want to rethink taking all of your classes online. Even if you take just one class per semester (that you need to mark off your degree plan) on campus and the rest online, you would get the full monthly housing allowance amount – double of what you would otherwise get by taking all of your classes online.

Regardless of your attendance venue, you and your spouse would still get both of your tuition’s paid up to the resident rate and receive the book stipend.

Tuition at a public school would be paid in full up to the resident rate (provided you are at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier). The book stipend is calculated at $41.67 per credit per semester (up to the $1,000 per year cap). If either of you plan on attending a private school, know that tuition is capped at $19,198.31 per year.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How can I give my wife my GI Bill?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are talking about and your current military status. The only GI Bill that has transfer benefit option is the Post 9/11 GI Bill and if you are retired, you can’t transfer benefits anyway.

However, assuming you are still serving, have served for at least six years, and have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time you make a transfer request, you can go to the milConnect website and fill out a request.

Once your transfer is approved, indicated by the Status Block changing from “Transfer Pending” to “Transfer Approved”, then she can go to the eBenefits website and request her Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. She would need a copy of it when she enrolls in school.

If she waits to use her transferred benefits until you are out, then she would get the monthly housing allowance which right now averages $1,300 per month. If she chooses to use her benefit now while you are still serving, then she forgo that monthly payment.

Regardless of your serving status, she would get her tuition paid up to the resident rate and receive the book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has 6 years active duty and just reenlisted for 4 more. Can he transfer the GI Bill to me now if I don’t plan to start college until next semester? Considering we are right in the middle of the 6 and 4-year mark, it is important to me that he transfer it now, but school has already started and I didn’t sign up for this last semester. Thanks in advance. — Kalie

A: Kalie, assuming your husband has at least four years left on his enlistment at the time he makes a transfer request (meaning he has not started on his four-year reenlistment yet), then yes he can request a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits. However if you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill, then no he can’t as that particular GI Bill does not have a transfer of benefits option.

As far as when you use your transferred benefits, that really is not an immediate issue. You have up to 15 years from his date of discharge – a date that is at least four years down the road – to use up the benefits he would transfer to you. So right now if he doesn’t extend again, you have at least 19 years to use up your transferred benefits.

Not starting school until next semester is probably preferred as it takes a few weeks before his benefits transfer request would get approved and it takes some time to get your Certificate of Eligibility after that. So all-in-all it would be best to wait until next semester.

Once his request is approved, then you have to go to the eBenefits website and request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. Hand in a copy to your Registar when you register for school.

Also, know that because he is still serving, you would not be eligible to receive the monthly housing allowance because he is most likely drawing BAH. You would however, get your tuition paid up to the resident rate and receive the book stipend at $41.67 per credit per semester, up to the $1,000 yearly cap.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I need to transfer my GI Bill benefits to my daughter. She turned 24 on January 23rd.

A: First, to make a Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) request, you have to meet three eligibility criteria. The first one is having at least six years of eligible service. The second one is still serving in one of the branches of the Armed Forces of the United States. Third, you have to have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of your transfer request. So if you meet the all three requirements, you can go to the milConnect website and make a transfer request.

Once your request is approved (by checking back at the TEB website occasionally and looking for a status change to “Transfer Approved”), your daughter has to go to the eBenefits website and request her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when enrolling in school. By giving a copy of the certificate to the Registrar, her school knows she is a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

That will indicate to them to send in a Certificate of Enrollment to the VA on her behalf. That certificate (when matched up to her Certificate of Eligibility) is the trigger to get the whole payment process started so that the school gets their tuition money and she gets her housing allowance and book stipend.

Also be aware that she only has two years left to use her transferred benefits. Once she hits 26, she can no longer use any remaining benefits. If she will have benefits remaining at that point, it would be wise for you to revoke what is left and either use them yourself or allocate to another dependent.