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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, thank you for this opportunity I am seeking clarity about benefits for a reservist inactive duty. I was discharged in December of last year from my unit because of medical/mental health reasons. I received an Honorable discharge and I wanted to know what benefits are available to me?

A: If you all you have is the Reserve GI Bill, then you don’t have any education benefits left to use. The unique thing about this GI Bill is the opportunity to use those benefits expires either after 10 years of service or upon discharge.

However if deployed anytime on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation after September 10, 2001, then you could have some eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. A one-year tour would put you at the 60% tier. A total of 36 months of deployment would put you at the top – 100%.

If you do have some coverage under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you could go to school for up to 36 months. The VA would pay your tuition at your tier percentage directly to your school. You would get the monthly housing allowance and book stipend. The housing allowance is based on the zip code of the school and the number of credits you take.

The book stipend is paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit per semester with a $1,000 yearly cap. If you are at a lesser percentage than 100%, then both your monthly housing allowance and book stipend would be pro-rated according to your tier level as well as your tuition. The unpaid portion of tuition would be your responsibility to pay.

However if you are at 100%, then you could possibly also use the Yellow Ribbon Program to help pay the difference providing your school is part of the program and you could secure one of their Yellow Ribbon Program spots.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is any legislation before Congress what would allow retirees to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits pass yet?

A:What you are talking about is the Pre-August 1, 2009 retirees which by law can’t transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependents. And the answer is no, there isn’t anything in the pipeline that would allow that to happen.

There have been a few bills over the years that if passed would have made that happen, but the support just wasn’t there. Not only did neither bill pass, neither one even came up to a vote. After the last proposal failed, no other legislation has tried again.

I even started a petition to President Obama that would accomplish this very thing, but it failed to get the required 25,000 signatures so it was never action-ed.
Army and Air Force veterans retiring after August 1, 2009 have a recourse they can take by submitting a request to their service branch Discharge Review Board.

However to be successful they have to be able to prove they were not aware of the requirement to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while still serving; something that is easier to do for those retiring soon after August 1, 2009.

The Air Force window of opportunity is for veterans retiring between August 1, 2009 to November 1, 2009. The Army did not put an ending date on their request option.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Background: I have exhausted my Chapter 30 GI Bill and am eligible for 10 months and 29 days of Post 9/11 GI Bill. Question: If I attend 2 semesters that take up just over 8 months of my benefit and I only have approximately 3 months of benefit left. What happens when I apply for the 3rd semester? Will the tuition be prorated or will it cover the whole semester tuition, and will the BAH payments stop as soon as I hit the 11th month?

A: The good news is that nothing will change in the 3rd semester. The VA will pay your tuition in full just as they have done in the past. You’ll continue to get the same amount of money from the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance and book stipend too. The VA’s policy is to not leave you hanging mid-semester if they can help it. However there is one situation where funds will be cut off immediately and that is if you reach your delimitation date – the date when your benefits expire.

If you are using your own benefits, or a spouse using transferred benefits, that date is usually 15 years from your date of discharge. If you are a dependent son or daughter using transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, then that date is when you turn age 26. In these cases, funds are cut off the day after the delimiting event happens.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. My name is John and I originally planned on getting out last year through an Early Separation Program. Unfortunately that didn’t work out for me. But during the process, I submitted my application for the Post 9/11 GI Bill through VONAPP and I received my Certificate of Eligibility weeks later. I still have one year left in the military until I get out. Is my GI Bill still good? Or did the time start as soon as I received my Certificate of Eligibility? I just want to make sure my GI Bill isn’t wasting away while I wait to separate from the military. I’ve been on active duty for 5 years now.

A: Don’t worry John, your Post 9/11 GI Bill is good for 15 years from your date of discharge, so because you still have a year left to serve, your clock hasn’t started ticking yet. And because you have served for at least three years after September 10, 2001, you will be at the 100% tier when you do decide to start using your New GI Bill.

How the Post 9/11 GI Bill works is the VA will pay your tuition directly to your school up to the resident level at a public school or up to $20,235.02 per year at a private school.

Monthly, you’ll get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. To see how much you would get, go to the BAH Calculator and enter in the zip code of your proposed school in the Duty Zip Code field. Click on E-5 from the Pay Grade drop down menu and click on Submit. Use the E-5 with dependents figure that is returned.

You’ll also get a book stipend each semester for a couple of semesters each year. It amounts to $41.67 per credit per semester up to $1,000 per year. If you decide to go to a vocational school or another non-degree program, then you would get $83 per month instead because vocational schools don’t use a credit-based system.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army for 17 years and still serving. He has offered his GI Bill for my college education. I would like to know what the GI benefits will be when he passes them on to me. I would ask him myself, but he is currently deployed. This information help me decide where I want to go to college. Thank you.

A: What your father is offering you is a very beneficial education assistance package that can be worth upwards of $130,000 depending on if you choose a private school or not and the zip code of your school. He can give you up to 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill if he has not previously used any of his GI Bill benefits before.

Once his transfer request is approved, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, you’ll get your Certificate of Eligibility that will show the GI Bill you have (Post 9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 33) the number of months you have left to use, and when they will expire (age 26).

To start using your benefit, be sure to hand in a copy of your certificate to the Registrar at school when you enroll for classes. They in turn will send in a Certificate of Enrollment to the VA and that starts the payment process for both them and you.

The VA will pay your tuition directly to your school. If you choose a public school in your home state, the VA will pay your tuition up to the resident level in full. If you decide to go to a private school, they would pay up to $20,235.02 per year.

As far as the payments you get, first is the housing allowance. It is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. Right now the average is around $1,300 per month. Depending on where your school is located, yours could be less or up to twice as much.

Once per semester, you also get a book stipend. It calculates based on $41.67 per credit, but does have a $1,000 per academic year cap.Some semesters it will be enough to buy all of your books with some left over, while in other semesters it may not be enough to pay for everything. In the end it all balances out.

As you can see, your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits can be quite lucrative and should position you well financially coming out of college with little to no student loan debt.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. My daughter is going to Tulane University. Since we live in Maryland, and my daughter is attending Tulane in Louisiana, what will her GI Bill tuition rate be? Housing stipend and books? The website is a bit confusing and I was hoping you could help me. Thanks for your help…my husband is active duty Army. Much appreciated.

A: According to Tulane’s website, they are showing a yearly tuition rate of $48,305. There doesn’t appear to be a different rate for non-residents. Books are estimated at an additional $1,200 for a total of $48,505 per year.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA can pay up to $20,235.02 per year in tuition costs if she attends a private school as a full-time student at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. Of course if she is less than 100% or a part-time student, the amount they pay would be less. So that leaves a difference of $28,069.98 per year that is her responsibility to pay.

She could possibly get some help from the Yellow Ribbon Program. Tulane takes up to 100 students per year with a maximum payout per student of $1,000. With VA match, that would be $2,000. That still leaves her with $26,000+ left to pay.

However if she went to a public school in Maryland, her tuition and eligible fees would be paid in full. Her housing allowance would be $1,917 per month (for the Baltimore zip code, but it would be similar for other Maryland cities). She would not have any out-of-pockets costs for tuition.

The housing allowance is based on the zip code of Tulane and the number of credits she takes. With Tulane located in New Orleans, her housing allowance amount would be $1,329 per month.

As far as the book stipend, she would get up to $1,000 per year, so she has about $200 per year of that cost to pay also.

Unless Tulane teaches something she can’t get at a public school in Maryland, she is going to rack up quite a debt in student loans over the course of a four-year degree by going to that school. Recent studies have shown that graduates from private colleges don’t make appreciably more than public school graduates once they get out in the working world. It is something to think about.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in college now and was expecting to receive my housing allowance for going to college. I was in for just over 2 years and so I was told I would be getting 70% of everything I believe. Well I have $406 pending which I assume is my housing allowance, but my question is this: How come I am only getting $400 and not the $700 and something? I was really hoping on getting the $700 and something as my rent is $600 and is due. What am I to do?

A: With at least 24 months of service, you should be at the 80% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level. If you had less than 24 months of eligible service (in which your training time does not count, then you would in fact be at the 70% tier level. The 24-month mark is where you pick up training time that counts toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility; less than 24 months and you can’t count training time.

Your $406 payment might in fact be your book stipend payment. The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to $41.67 per credit per semester (with a $1,000 yearly cap). While that figure is low for the 70% tier as a full-time student, it is almost right on the money if you are at the 80% tier.

The $700 and something figure you quoted could end up being more too if you are at the 80% tier. You it could end up being an amount closer to $952.
And the additional tier percentage would also help you out with the difference left to pay in tuition after the VA paid their share (80% instead of 70%).

To see what tier percentage you are really at, take a look at your Certificate of Eligibility. It should show that you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tier percentage, the number of months of entitlement you have left to use, and when it expires (15 years from your last date of discharge).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a US Navy Master Chief about to retire on 30 SEP 14. I already went into the website that allows transfers and transferred and received confirmation back that all 36 months of the New GI Bill was transferred to my daughter. In a recent TAP class, we were recommended to transfer at least 1 month to all eligible beneficiaries to include myself. This would allow inter transfer within once retired. I immediately questioned as my interpretation is whatever is on file as of your first day after retirement, is the official record. No changes after that. I cannot get clear cut guidance from the VA in Buffalo as it is extremely difficult to get in touch with them. My obvious concern is two-fold. I would like the benefit used as well as having a plan in case the 17 year old decides to not go to school or complete the full course. Any advice is welcome.

A: Either what was presented was wrong or you misunderstood what was said. First, you don’t have to transfer something to yourself that you already own. As a matter-of-fact I would think that it would be impossible to do that on the TEB website.

Second, you can transfer all 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse and dependent children while serving an you still retain the right to revoke and reallocate after retiring. And that is the advantage of giving each family member at least one month of entitlement before you retire. It increases your flexibility to move entitlement around after you retire.

What you can’t do after retiring is make a transfer to a family member not already having received entitlement while you were serving. For example, let’s say you were blessed with a newborn child after retiring. You could not make a transfer of benefits to that baby, because it had not received benefits from you while you were serving.

Otherwise you can revoke benefits from one family member not using them and either keep the benefits for yourself or reallocate them to another family member that either has or previously had Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was reviewing the different GI Bill types and was wondering which one I qualify for. In my contract I am eligible for the Reserve GI Bill, however, I was looking at the qualifications for the MGIB and realized that I spent more than 90 days on active duty when I went to language school and in which I acquired a DD214 for this time. I was wondering if I do in fact rate the MGIB because of this active duty time or if I only qualify for the Reserve GI Bill?

A: Without seeing what type of orders you were on when you went to language school, it is hard to tell. However, most likely they were coded for training – time which does not initially count toward GI Bill eligibility. And even if that time did count, it wouldn’t be for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty; it would apply toward the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why? Because the MGIB-AD requires a $1,200 contribution fee payment, something which you wouldn’t have done.

So most likely all you have is the Reserve GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). However if you are not aware of the uniqueness of this GI Bill, you should be as it has some specific limitations.

One, it is only good for the first 10 years while you are in the Reserves or National Guard. Two, there isn’t any residual benefits if you get out before serving 10 years as it expires on your discharge date.

But if your time did count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, you would most likely have from 40% to 60% coverage depending on the length of your school – 40% if it was at least 90 days but less than 6 months; 50% if it was at least 6 months but less than 12; 60% if it was over one year, but less than 18 months.

Otherwise, if you deploy on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, that time would also count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill tier percentage.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from Army 8/07. I was told that I can still use part of my GI Bill for schooling. Want to go to a bike school in Colorado for 8 weeks. Will this help w/the cost of school/classes?

A: If you retired in 2007, you do still have time to use your GI Bill. In fact, you may have two GI Bills you could use. If you signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill when you enlisted and paid in your $1,200 contribution fee, then you have 36 months of benefits that you can use. But know that you only have until 8/17 to use those benefits as after that time they will expire.

However due to your service after September 10, 2001, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you did not sign up for the MGIB, then you have 36 months of benefits under this GI Bill that you can use before 2022 as this one has a 15-year shelf life instead of 10.

If you have both GI Bills, you could switch over your 36 MGIB months to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use them or use up your 36 months of MGIB first, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits.

If you only plan to go to bike school and not take any additional post-secondary education, then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now by going to the eBenefits website and submitting VA Form 22-1990.

Under it, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school, provided it is a VA-approved school and you would get a housing allowance and book stipend. With the MGIB, you would get $1,648 per month, but you have to pay your own education expenses.