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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am going to be enrolled at Pima Medical and the program is considered a certification and the school considers it full-time. Being I’m receiving 80% of my Post 9/11 GI Bill, what if any will I get paid for BAH and will my costs for school be covered if the school is only $11,833?

A: You won’t get any BAH as the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not pay BAH – it pays a monthly housing allowance, which is totally different than BAH.

Now with that out of the way, what you get in Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) depends on which Pima Medical Institute campus you attend.

Because the MHA is determined by the zip code of your school and your rate of pursuit, it can vary from campus to campus. However, you can check the amount authorized for the zip code of your school by using the BAH calculator.

Enter in the zip code of your school and choose “E-5” from the Pay Grade Drop-Down Box. Click the Calculate button. Look for the “E-5 with dependents” amount in the results, keeping in mind you would get 80% of that figure. For example, let’s assume you are going to the Mesa, AZ campus. It has a MHA of $1,461 per month of which you would get $1,168.

Because you are in a non-degree program, you would also get 80% of $83 per month in book stipend money – or $68.40 per month.

Pima Medical sounds like it is a private school. If so, then the VA would pay up to 80% of $19,198.31 per year or $15,348 per year, so your Post 9/11 GI Bill should pay for your whole certificate training.

Also, depending on which certificate you are training for, your GI Bill might also reimburse you up to 80% of the authorized reimbursable cost of the certification test.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: The school I am going to has offered me free tuition. I, however, will still need to pay for room and board, etc. If, however, the tuition is covered by an outside source, can the tuition dollars that the college has covered be used for other school expenses such as room and board? Can the GI Bill be used for this purpose? So basically can the GI Bill be used to pay for the school, so I can use its tuition waver to pay for the room and board?

A: It sounds like you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which in that case, no it can’t. The reason? Many people don’t know that the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the last payer of tuition when multiple sources of financial aid are involved. So if your school is paying your tuition, then there is nothing left for the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay.

In this case, all you would get out of your New GI Bill is your monthly housing allowance and book stipend. But, you can still use your monthly housing allowance to pay your room and board as that money comes directly to you and you can use it for whatever you want.

Your book stipend money will be close to $500 per semester if you take 12 credits, however, there is a $1,000 per year cap, but it is enough for a couple of full-time semesters per academic year.

If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill, then yes, you would get the same amount per month regardless if your school paid your tuition or not – currently $1,648 per month, but that is all you get. No housing allowance or book stipend.

You would have to do the math to see which GI Bill would be the best for you to use. Because your tuition is paid and your housing allowance is determined largely by the zip code of your school, your MGIB might be a better choice, especially if your school is in a low-cost area.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has served 12 years active duty Army since 2001 and is eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He has just received his AA degree using TA and would like to continue his education to work towards a bachelor’s degree. He is switching from active duty Army to Army reserve within the next 4 months. We currently have one son (4 years old) and were wondering if he should switch his Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or if he should keep it as is. He doesn’t know if he will get TA once in the Reserves or if that is just an active duty benefit. If he doesn’t get TA, he wants to use the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill to finish his degree and then transfer the remaining money to our son. How would he go about this and what is the best plan for this situation.

A: I can tell you that if he switched GI Bills now, all he will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months as he has left under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). He would not get the additional 12 months of entitlement he would have gotten if he would have first exhausted his MGIB and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m not saying this is a bad thing; it is just something to be aware of and to factor into his decision as far as which GI Bill to use.

He can get Tuition Assistance (TA) in the Army Reserve, so nothing should change in that respect as far as using his Montgomery GI Bill. However, without knowing just what he has left for MGIB entitlement, it is hard to determine with GI Bill would be best for him to use.

On one hand, he could use up all of his MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and give his son the additional 12 months of benefits he would get by transferring GI Bills. But depending on how many months of entitlement he has left under the MGIB, it might be better to switch right after he gets his bachelor’s degree, if he ends up with more than 12 months of MGIB entitlement left.

What he needs to know is that he has to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill while he is still serving regardless, if he wants to make a transfer of benefits to his son, as the MGIB does not have a transfer of benefits option, nor can he make a transfer request once out of the Reserves.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a veteran and earned my own Post 9/11 GI Bill. My spouse is still active duty and has transferred his benefits to me and our children. I am applying to a doctorate level program where my GI Bill will only cover half of the tuition. Is it possible for me to also draw my husband’s GI Bill at the same time to cover the tuition? (The program is 3 years in length).

A: No it isn’t possible to draw on both your and your husband’s GI Bill at the same time. Have you explored the Yellow Ribbon Program yet? That program could maybe help pay the tuition not covered by your Post 9/11 GI Bill. With your own Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would be eligible for the program, provided your school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and your doctorate program is included in their agreement.

If so, then your school could waiver up to 50% of the difference between what your GI Bill pays and what your school charges; the VA would pay an equal amount. This in theory would leave you nothing left to pay out-of-pocket.

Notice I said “in theory”? That is because your school could have agreed to pay less than 50%, which in that case you would have some tuition left to pay.

Just so you know, as long as your husband is still serving, you would not be able to use the Yellow Ribbon Program when you start using the benefits he transferred to you.

Also, if your school is not a Yellow Ribbon school, or their agreement does not include your degree plan, then I would look for a school where their Yellow Ribbon Agreement could help pay your tuition. Three years of doctoral tuition is a lot of money, if there are other options available.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question regarding MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I initially paid the $100 a month for my first year in the Army. I enlisted in Feb 2005. I am also eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I have been using TA through GoArmyEd and will soon obtain my Associate’s. I would like to use my MGIB to help with my Bachelor’s degree which will be mostly online. Once I use up my MGIB benefits I would like to transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my dependents. If this is possible would I be eligible for the 48 months of benefits, 12 for the MGIB and then the 36 Post 9/11 GI Bill? — Armondo

A: Hi Armondo. Under the Rule of 48, you can get a combined maximum of 48 months of GI Bill entitlement if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills (which you are); thirty-six months under the Montgomery GI Bill and 12 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I think you are making a good decision by using your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to get your degree online and passing your Post 9/11 GI Bill to your dependents.

As you know, using Tuition Assistance (TA) is a great way to maximize your MGIB benefits as the Army is paying up to $250 per credit (up to the $4,500 per year maximum). You did not say if you were going to continue to use TA to get your Bachelor’s degree or not, but I would advise you to keep using it if you can. It is free money you are losing, if you do not use it to the maximum.

Keep in mind that to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your dependents, you have to meet all three service requirements:
• having served for at least 6 years
• currently serving
• making sure you have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of your transfer request.

Having enlisted in 2005, you have more than met the 6-year requirement and you are still serving, so you only have to make sure the last requirement is in place before making your transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently using my Montgomery GI Bill to pay for school. I am going to have exactly 20 days of entitlement left at the end of the school year. I also have another year to go and planned on getting my extra 12 months from the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Will I have to exhaust the last 20 days before applying for Post 9/11 GI Bill? If so, will they back pay for the time I am sure to be waiting for the application to be processed while I am in school?

A: Yes, to get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you do have to use up your remaining 20 days of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) entitlement first. But if you do it right, there would not be a lag between when you exhausted your remaining MGIB benefit and when your Post 9/11 GI Bill kicked in.

It sounds like you think you have to first physically use up your remaining 20 days and then send in your VA Form 22-1990 to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, when in fact, you can submit your application prior to using up your last 20 days of your MGIB benefits. The key is to tell the VA when you want your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit to start. Just make sure that date is well after you have used up your last day of MGIB.

Here is how you do it. On your VA Form 22-1990, fill in PART I and go to PART II. In PART II, check the box in block 9F. Put a date in the effective date space that is a week or so after you are sure you have used up your final MGIB entitlement. Check the Chapter 30 box (as the GI Bill you are giving up) and finish filling out the form and submit it.

Once you run out of your remaining 20 days of MGIB, your Post 9/11 GI Bill kicks in with no lag or interruption of benefits. It is easy when you do it the smart way.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to get my BA in Software Engineering from University of Phoenix online. I enlisted in 1999 and so I have the MGIB of $50,000. The problem is that the tuition for said program is $530 per credit hour for 15 months. With materials it’s about $45,000. Will my MGIB cover all that cost? Thanks. – Jason

A: Your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) should pay for your whole program. Right now the MGIB is paying up to $1,648 per month to go to school. If you used up all 36 months of your MGIB to get your BA degree, you would have earned $59,328, but you have to pay all your education costs, including tuition, fees, books, etc.

However, you may have another option. Depending on how long you were in, you may qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. All you need for full 100% eligibility is at least three years of active duty service after September 10, 2001. If you have less than three years after that date, you still may have some eligibility – it would just be at a lower percentage.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school and you would get a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) up to $714.50 per month (because you are an online-only student) and a book stipend worth $41.67 per credit, up to the maximum year cap of $1,000.

If you are 100% eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you could switch over all 36 MGIB months to the New GI Bill by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. If you are less than 100% eligible, then you may want to crunch the numbers to see which GI Bill would be the best for you.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Which is more beneficial, the full transfer or the transfer after 36 months? I will only be using MGIB for my Master’s, which is a two-year program. I know it will not cover the full costs of a master’s program, but I want to get everything I can out of it. Which way gives you more money for school and fees? Thank you.

A: First of all, I’m confused by your question. You say that you are going to be using your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) for your two-year master’s degree, but then you want to know which will be more beneficial a full transfer or after 36 month’s. If you are only going to use 24 months of your MGIB, you would never use up your initial 36 MGIB months to even get to your additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill.

And if you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away, you give up the right to use your MGIB, so you would not be able to use it for your master’s degree, but in fact, you would have to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill. That is not a bad thing – just different than what you had expressed in your question.

Without knowing where your school is, I can’t accurately answer your question. Because the monthly housing allowance is based on the zip code of your school (in addition to the number of credits you are taking each semester), I would have to have that vital piece of information to make an accurate projection of what you should get.

But for explanation purposes, let’s assume you would get the average Post 9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), which currently is about $1,300 per month. Also, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school – all of it, if you attend a resident public school, but only up to $19,198.31 per year if you go to a private school. And with either type school, you would also get the book stipend of $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 per year maximum).

Under the MGIB, you would get up to $1,674 per month and have to pay your own tuition, fees, book, etc. Actually, it is a no-brainer. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get almost as much in just MHA and book stipend money (and your tuition is already paid) as you would under the MGIB (and you have to pay your own tuition). Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and most of your master’s degree (if not all) would be paid for.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently enrolled strictly online and get 1/2 of the housing allowance, I was told that transferring to a 1-day-per-week classroom instruction gets the whole amount but I can’t find any evidence if this is true. I gave up a ton of overtime to do school and the 1/2 is not as helpful as I anticipated. Anybody know whether there is truth to this?

A: Yes, what you heard is partially true. The actual truth is you can take one class per semester, one that you need to mark off your degree plan in order to graduate, at a local school. The number of times that class meets per week doesn’t rally enter into the equation.

Taking a mix of online and on-campus classes, to get the full authorized monthly housing allowance, is one of the few “loopholes” left in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The thing to watch is to ensure the classes you take resident are indeed ones that you need to check off your degree plan.

If they are not on your degree plan, the VA would not pay for those courses (in which you would have to pay out-of-pocket), plus those credits would not apply towards your monthly housing allowance.

Your Post 9/11 GI Bill MHA authorized amount is determined by the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. As long as you are taking at least the minimum number of credits your school considers full-time, you would get the maximum amount, of course assuming you are 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible.

Be sure to coordinate with your degree-issuing school – most likely your online school – because they have to approve the classes you are going to take on campus. Once finished with those classes, your school where you attended classes would send a transcript of credits over to your online school so those credits can be posted to your degree plan.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My wife is very soon-to-be a veteran of the USAF and I am active duty Army. She is currently taking online courses and will be continuing to do so when she gets her discharge, using her Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. We have two children, and I am receiving BAH at the with-dependents rate (and I am an E-5). When she is a veteran using the GI Bill to pay for school, at which she will be taking a full course-load (12 credits) with combined online and resident/on-campus classes, will she be entitled to MHA? If so, will this affect my BAH rate?

A: The short answer to your first question is yes; your second question – no. As you know right now, because she is still on active duty, she does not rate the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, however, once she is out, and because she has her own Post 9/11 GI Bill, she will get the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA).

The part that confuses many people is that if she were going to use Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you transferred to her, then she would not get the MHA as long as you were on active duty. See the difference.

The fact that she would be taking a mix of online and on-campus classes is the best way to maximize her GI Bill. If she were taking only online classes, then the most she could get in MHA money would be $714.50, but because she is also taking classes on campus, then she would fall under a different MHA rate – one determined by the zip code of her on-campus school and the number of credits she takes each semester.

Generally speaking, her MHA would be about double of what she would get if she were only taking online classes.

As far as your second question, her going to school on her own Post 9/11 GI Bill should not have an impact on the amount of BAH you are now getting.