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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I was active duty for 6 yrs and I’m about to exhaust my Chapter 30 GI Bill. I have also been in the Guard/Reserves since I left active duty and was activated for one year (2004-2005). I have a couple of questions: 1) Is it true I only receive 60% under Post 9/11 GI Bill? 2) My husband is active duty (25 yrs) and already transferred benefits to kids and me. If I only qualify for 60% under my Post 9/11 GI Bill, can I supplement the other 40% with his? Thanks so much for your time. This is a wonderful site.

A: As far as if you only get 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I’ll give you may standard answer of “It depends!”. It depends on when you performed your 6 years of active duty. The part after September 10, 2001 would count toward your Post 9/11 GI Bill, along with your one year of deployment. If that service was before the September date, then the only time that counts is your deployment time, which I’m thinking is the case.

The requirement for the minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement of 40% is serving 90 days on a Title 10 tour after the September date. Three years of eligible service after that date puts you at the 100% tier. Various eligible service times puts you somewhere in between. If all you have for eligible service is your one-year deployment, then yes, you would be at the 60% tier.

Under the GI Bill rules, you can only use one GI Bill at a time, so no, you can’t use your Post 9/11 GI Bill at 60% and your transferred benefits for the other 40%.

You might want to think about using your transferred benefits first if they are at 100%, unless you plan to get an advanced degree, then it might be better to use them last as advanced degree tuition is much, much more expensive.

If that is something you want to do, contact the VA to find out how to use your all of you Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits in a particular order. I have never run into this situation to know the process of doing it that way (or even if it can be done).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am from Ohio but and I will be living in New York while doing online classes through Everglades University. I am wondering if I have to be a resident of New York to get my GI Bill or can I go to school anywhere? Next, my school is a private school and their classes are $1,500 dollars a class. How do I figure out how much the GI Bill will cover? Thank you! This is an amazing application! Tiffany.

A: Hi Tiffany. I can answer your questions for you. You can use your GI Bill regardless of your residency. With that said, there are some differences on what it would pay depending on which GI Bill you use.

For example, if you use the Montgomery GI Bill, then it pays you up to $1,648 per month and you have to pay tuition, fees, books, etc. At $1,500 per class, that would be enough to pay for 4 classes per semester.

However if you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA pays your tuition directly to your school, but only up to $19,198.31 per year (because Everglades is a private school). With each class being $1,500, you should be able to take up to 12 classes per year or 4 classes per semester if you go year-round. Assuming each class is 3 credits, that would give you 12 credits per semester – a nice load each term.

Because you are only taking classes online, the most you can get in housing allowance is $714.50 per month. But, if you would take just one class per semester at a local school that you need on your degree plan at a local VA-Approved school (and with Everglades approval), you could almost double your housing allowance.

You would also qualify for the book stipend. It is paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit per semester, however, there is a $1,000 per year cap, but you should be able to get it for a couple semesters per academic year.

As you can see, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a better deal as you get the housing allowance and book stipend in addition to getting your classes paid for, where under the MGIB all you would get is enough to pay for your classes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I qualify for the Fry Program so does that mean I get a housing allowance and an additional allowance for being enrolled? Or do I just get the one housing allowance payment each month? I understand we get the stipend for books, tuition and supplies but I wasn’t sure if I received money for housing along with additional money. I was formerly on the Chapter 35 and received a monthly installment without housing so I wanted to know if the Fry program provided more. Thanks.

A: The Fry Scholarship Program pays like the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under it, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school. Attend a public school and your tuition is paid in full. Go to a private school and the VA can pay up to $19,198.31 per year in tuition costs.

As you noted, you get a housing allowance each month. The amount you get is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take each semester. While the zip codes on the East and West coasts tend to pay more, the average across the U.S. is over $1,300 per month.

Under the Fry Scholarship Program, you would also get a book stipend per semester. I’m not sure if that is the extra money you were talking about or not. It calculates at $41.67 per credit. It does have a $1,000 per year cap, but it is usually enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters each year.

As far as getting an additional allowance for being enrolled, no, but with getting your tuition paid, a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend per semester, it is a generous program.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Maybe I’m making this too hard, but how exactly do I go about changing my Montgomery GI Bill (which I’m still paying into) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill? I’ve weighed the options and the Post 9/11 GI Bill is better suited for me and my family. I just want to change my benefits and stop the $100 a month from being taken! Thanks.

A: Being you are still paying into the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), you are better off to pay the $100 per month for 12 months than to try and stop it. Once you are fully vested in the MGIB, you can always switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get your $1,200 contribution fee back once you have used up all of your entitlement. Your contribution fee comes back to you as part of your last housing allowance payment.

The months of entitlement under each GI Bill is the same after three years of service – 36 months, but under the Rule of 48, if you have both GI Bills, the maximum combined months of benefit is capped at 48 months. So you can use up your 36 months of MGIB benefits, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits, or you can convert your 36 months of MGIB over to the Post 9/11GI Bill, but not get the additional time.

The other big difference between the two GI Bills is the transfer of benefits option of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once you have served for at least six years and have at least four years left on your enlistment, you can submit a transfer request to give your dependents some (or all) of your benefits.

However with that said, most servicemembers are better off staying with the MGIB while on active duty. Just be sure to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and complete the benefits transfer before you get out. Once you are out, it is too late.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I heard a rumor, that if you enlist in the state of Texas. you can go to any school in Texas for free, and still collect your GI Bill. Is that true?

A: Your comment “You can go to any school in Texas for free …” is not exactly correct. You can go to any Texas school that is on the Texas Veterans Commission’s Approved list of Public Institutions. The list includes most of the state-supported schools in Texas, but does not include private schools.

As far as still collecting your GI Bill, it depends on which GI Bill you are using. If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, the statement is true. Under the Hazelwood Act, you could get up to 150 hours of tuition-free schooling while still collecting up to $1,648 per month from your Montgomery GI Bill for up to 36 months.

If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the statement is not true. You can’t use the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get those same classes paid for by your Hazelwood Act.

And there is more to qualifying for the Hazelwood Act than just enlisting in the State of Texas. You also have to meet these other qualifying requirements:
• Designate Texas as Home of Record; or be a Texas resident;
• Receive at least a general discharge under honorable conditions (but you couldn’t use your GI Bill with a discharge of anything less than Honorable);
• Serve at least 181 days of active duty service after IADT;
• Not have Chapter 33 benefits that exceed the value of Hazlewood Act benefits;
• Not in default on a student loan made or guaranteed by the State of Texas;
• Enroll in a Texas Veterans Commission state approved school;
• Must reside in Texas while going to school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My daughter is currently attending the Paul Mitchell School and it has been added to the VA’s list of accredited institutions. The financial aid person at the school she attends has no idea how the VA attendance verification works and refuses to take the time to learn more about it. My daughter has been asking her since she started school to verify her attendeance to no avail. Her benefits payments would have amounted to well over $6,000.00 now. How can we get the person at her school to verify her attendance? Do we have any legal recourse to pursue? Thank you!

A: If you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, what should have happened is your daughter should have requested her Certificate of Eligibility from the VA by submitting VA Form 22-1990, if it is her GI Bill, or VA Form 22-1990e if she is using transferred benefits. Then she should have handed the school Registrar a copy of her certificate when she registered for school.

In turn, the school then sends a Certificate of Enrollment on her behalf that tells the VA she is registered for school. It is this certificate that triggers the start of the payment process. The school gets their tuition and your daughter gets her monthly housing allowance and book stipend.

However, if your daughter is using the Montgomery GI Bill, she has to verify her enrollment monthly herself. She does that by going through the WAVE system. If she does not verify her enrollment at the end of each month, she will not get paid.

To me this sounds like the GI Bill she may be using. Is she paying her own tuition? Under the MGIB, she has to pay her own tuition, but she would get up to $1,648 per month from the VA.

I think your daughter is using the MGIB and paying her own tuition, but has not verified her enrollment through WAVE. I doubt her school has been waiting on their money this long.

Under VA policy, she could go back up to one year and request reimbursement. I suggests that she does this by sending in a letter to the VA. Another resource for her to use is each school has a trained VA Certifying Official which could help her with her issue whether it is a monthly verification issue or an issue with the financial aid person.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, My husband transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. I am wanting to get my Masters in Occupational Safety. My husband is currently going through pilot training with the Missouri Air National Guard, resulting in us moving every 6 months or so which does not allow me to physically go to a school. I want to go to Eastern Kentucky University online. I have been told a few things by many people. I was told I can not use his GI Bill for an online school and that I can only use it on certain online schools. I would like an answer so I can pick a school and start attending this winter after our fourth move this year.

A: It always amazes me how much mis-information there is out there concerning the Post 9/11 GI Bill (or any GI Bill for that matter). What you were told about using it for online program is partially true. It can only be used at schools that are on the VA’s Approved School List. By-the-way, Eastern Kentucky University is listed as a VA-approved school. Just as a note though I see Occupational Safety as a bachelor’s degree program, but not in a master’s degree. However, they do offer a Safety, Security and Emergency Management as a master’s degree program. You might want to look into it further before enrolling.

There are many unscrupulous schools out there that love to get GI Bill benefits. Many are either not accredited or their accreditation is worthless, so the VA has screened them and either approve or disapprove them for GI Bill purposes.

If your husband is on Title 10 active duty orders and drawing BAH on you, then you would not get the housing allowance. For an online-only student, that amounts to $714.50 per month. If you waited to go to school once he was off orders and back on drilling status with the Air National Guard, then you would start getting that payment. Regardless, you would get the book stipend per semester calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I elected to transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill Educational Benefits to my children. We currently reside in Utah but my children may attend college out of state; for example, Texas. What is the maximum amount per credit that it will pay? Is it based on the state of their residency or the state in which they are attending college? Also, in regard to the housing allowance; can that be used for dormitories and apartments off campus? Can it be used for other things such as utilities? In other words, is the benefit dollar amount received based on what the rent costs or is it a set figure regardless of the cost for rent? Thanks, Bill.

A: Hi Bill. According to the current rules, the Post 9/11 GI Bill can pay up to 100% of the resident tuition and eligible fee costs at a public school. It can pay up to $19,198.31 per year at a private college. You notice I said resident tuition.

Most likely your children would have to pay non-resident tuition in which case they would have a difference left to pay. Sometimes that difference can be quite expensive.

Their best bet would be to look for a school in Utah, but if they have their heart set on going to school in Texas, they should look for a school that is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program. That way, the school could waiver up to 50% of tuition difference and the VA would pay an equal amount; little, if anything, would be left for them to pay.

Or, the school could have a lesser percentage in its agreement in which the VA would pay a lesser amount resulting in a difference left to pay.

As far as the monthly housing allowance, it comes directly to your children and can be used to pay for anything. It is calculated based on the zip code of the school and the number of credits (and your child’s tier percentage). S/he would also get the book stipend (up to $1,000 per year limit) that is calculated at $41.67 per credit per semester.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was active duty Air Force for 4 years and got out with an honorable discharge. I was dumb and did not sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) while I was in. Can I qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill or does not taking the MGIB automatically disqualify me from ever getting the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: No, not taking the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) does not in any way exclude you from qualifying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (40%) are free just from your service of at least 90 days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001. Being you served for 4 years, you are at the 100% tier.

When you decide to start using it, just go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you will get your Certificate of Eligibility that will show you which GI Bill you have (the Post 9/11 GI Bill), how many months of eligibility (36) and the expiration date (15 years from your date of discharge).

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is the most generous GI Bill yet in the history of the GI Bill. Once enrolled in school, the VA will pay your tuition directly to your school, up to the resident rate. Monthly, you get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. Right now the monthly average is about $1,300. It runs less if you go to school in the Midwest, but is almost double if you go to school in New York City or LA. Once per semester, up to the $1,000 yearly limit, you would also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit.

All-in-all, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a great educational assistance program that you might as well use as your earned it from your service to your country.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Medical Discharge and GI Bill Benefits – I served 22 months of service in the active Army and I was discharge honorably due to a service-connected disability. I received 22 months of the MGIB and exhausted it receiving 25 months of entitlements to finish the semester. I was told to apply for the Post -9/11 GI Bill and I would receive more benefits. My certificate of eligibility stated I would receive 9 months of entitlements under CH. 33 at 100%. I have been told that due to the “rule of 48″ I should receive 23 months not 9. I keep getting conflicting information from the education counselors at VA and would like to know what I should receive and what to do. Thank you for your assistance. Heath

A:Heath if you were using a GI Bill other than the Post 9/11 GI Bill, that would be true. But because you first used up your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the most you can get under that GI Bill is another 12 additional months of entitlement.

And you used three of those 12 months to take you from the time you ran out of MGIB benefits to the end of the semester. That is why you ended up with 9 months of remaining entitlement instead of 12.

The Rule of 48 says that if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined number of months can’t exceed 48; it doesn’t say you will automatically get 48 months. However, as I said earlier, the exception is the Post 9/11 GI Bill, after exhausting your MGIB and switching, and the most number of months you can get is 12.

As far as what you should do – nothing. Being you have your Certificate of Eligibility, enroll in school and enjoy what GI Bill benefits you have left. You are getting what you should under the current GI Bill rules.