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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if I sign over my Montgomery GI Bill to my spouse but we are getting a divorce will she be able to receive BAH when we are no longer married?

A: I think we are talking about a couple of different things here. I’ll do my best to get them sorted out. First, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) does not have a transfer option to spouses, so you would not be able to give your wife your MGIB benefits even if you wanted to.

Second, if you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then yes you could transfer those benefits to her providing you meet the transfer of benefit requirements.

Before you can get a transfer approved, you have to have served for at least six years, be currently serving at the time of your transfer request and agree to serve an additional four years. Once the transfer is approved, your wife has to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when she enrolls in school.

Once in school, her tuition would be paid directly to her school by the VA up to the resident undergraduate rate. Monthly she would also get the housing allowance or BAH, depending on how the divorce is set-up.

I’ve read lately where some lawyers ask the court to give the ex-spouse BAH, which she would collect for as long as you are in the military, while others ask for the housing allowance, which she would only get for the duration of her Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am getting out of the Navy on an admin discharge and I only been in for 2 years. I heard that you get a percent of the GI Bill that you paid for. Can you give me and estimate on what my percentage might be?

A: If you signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill at the time you enlisted and paid your $1,200 contribution fee, then you most likely would have one month of entitlement for each month of service. That is normally how it is handled in cases where the servicemember does not finish the term of service agreed upon at the time of enlistment.

However in one case, you may be eligible for the full 36 months of MGIB benefits: if you had originally signed up for three years, served for at least 20 months (which you had) and were discharged at the Convenience of the Government.

Because you also reference “percentage” you may be referring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. While you don’t have to pay for it – you also refer to paying for it in your question – you could get some eligibility with 24 months of service. Most likely, you would end up with 36 months of New GI Bill benefits at the 70% tier. That is assuming you had less than 6 months IDAT, as training months do not count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility until you get over 24 months of service. If you had more than 6 months at Basic Training and “A” school , then you would probably be at the 60% tier.

As far as which one would be the best one to use: it is hard to determine what you would get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill because of so many unknown variables such as the zip code of your school and the number of credits you would take. I can tell you that under the MGIB, you would get $1,270 per month going to school full-time.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: For those of us who are exhausting their MGIB benefits and looking to take advantage of the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, do you know if there are any restrictions on how these 12 months can be used? For example, do the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits have to be used at the same school we last attended while using the MGIB benefits?

I ask because my MGIB benefits will be exhausted before I complete my degree (4 months short). I would like to use the Post 9/11 benefits during these 4 months to finish my degree and then use the remaining 8 months to complete a flight certification program.

Is finishing one degree program and starting another during the middle of the 12 month Post 9/11 extension allowed? Thanks for your help!

A: No they don’t have to be used at the same school. However if you are continuing your education at that school, be sure to put the effective date on your VA Form 22-1990 well after when you will finish using your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits. As long as the date is well after, you would seamlessly roll over from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

However, if you have even a day left on your MGIB on the date you put down, that is all you would get for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, so be conscious of the date you put in the Block 9F, Part II of the referenced form.

Once you are finished with your degree, yes you can use the rest of your remaining Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to take a flight certification course.
Note that if you plan to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill to take flight qualification courses, in most cases you already have to have your private pilot’s license which in most cases the Post 9/11 GI Bill would not pay for.

And I think I have answered your last question – yes you can. However if you have finished one degree program and before you start another one, be sure to send in VA Form 22-5495 – Change of Program or Place of Training.

Otherwise the VA might not know you finished one program and started another one. They would most likely deny paying benefits because your new courses would not be part of the program they last had on file.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was going to transfer benefits to me. He was discharged in 2004 but they said that he couldn’t transfer because he did not have at least 90 days active duty after 9/11/2001. I think that this is a cheap way of doing this. I feel that this is a benefit that they deserve and should have the right to do this. Plus my father can’t transfer his to me because he served in Vietnam war and of course his benefits have dissolved. This is something that I think is wrong with the military benefits. This should be corrected the help families and loved ones to actually further their education.

A: There are several things wrong with your information or we are not getting the complete story. One, according to my math, and if he was on active duty the whole time, there is more than 90 days from September 9, 2001 to 2004 when he was discharged.

Now what he told you was probably true if he was in the Selected Reserve (SELRES), meaning in one of the reserves of the military or in the National Guard. SELRES members do not qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill without having served for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001 on a Title 10 order in support for a contingency operation.

Two, when he got out in 2004, the Post 9/11 GI Bill was not in effect yet; it would not go into effect for another 5 years, so it would have been impossible for him to transfer something to you that didn’t exist. And if he had the Montgomery GI Bill, it did not (and still does not) have a transfer to spouse option, so he could not have transferred that GI Bill to you even if he would have wanted to.

Lastly, if he just recently wanted to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you, he would have been denied because according to the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, he has to be currently serving at the time he makes his transfer request (along with having served for at least six years and agreeing to serve another four years).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is an active service member in Japan and I am a veteran going to college in New York with full benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, including BAH for living on campus. My husband says he’s entitled to BAH if I am paying for my room out of pocket. The BAH helps but I am still using some of my own money to pay for my dorm. Is he entitled to BAH while I am using mine? Or would he be entitled to BAH after I finish using mine for school? I appreciate anyone that can answer this in fully. Thanks.

A: I can answer your question, but for clarity purposes, let’s first work on the terminology. What you get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), not BAH. While your MHA is calculated off of the BAH tables, it is entirely different in many ways. What your husband gets while serving on active duty oversees is the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).

The second part for clarity is the VA could care less where you live while you are going to school. So the MHA money you get is the same whether you are living on campus, off campus, or with your folks at home and not paying rent. It is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits taken and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents.

Typically if you were not a veteran, but going to school under Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, you would not get the MHA, but your husband would collect OHA at the dependent level. You would get your tuition paid up to the resident undergraduate rate and up to $1,000 per academic year in the book stipend money.

But since you are a veteran using your own Post 9/11 GI Bill, you are authorized the MHA. Whether you are paying for some of your room and board out of pocket or not has nothing to do with whether he can collect OHA or not.

If he is living in government furnished quarters while in Japan, then he most likely would not be authorized OHA. However, if he is living off post, then he should at least get the single rate.

The reason he is not collecting OHA at the dependent level is because you are getting the MHA. If he were, that would be double-dipping and not allowed under current law.

Once you are finished using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he would be authorized to start receiving OHA at the dependent level again.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I applied for the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for a trade school but was denied benefits. I served 13 years and my last discharge was OTH. I have 2 contracts indicating the time frame and 2 certificates indicating Honorable Discharges. I have received documentation on how to appeal and I plan to do just that. My questions are: Do you think I am eligible for the Post 911 GI Bill? Should I hire an attorney to write the letter and provide the documentation to the Board of Veterans Appeals for my appeal? My service was from 1998-2013.

A: Without more information, I have no idea if you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill or not. But I can tell you what the requirements are to be eligible. Minimum eligibility of 40% comes with a minimum of 90 days of service on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001. Total eligibility comes with at least three years of service after the same date.

Because your last discharge was an OTH, that term of service does not count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, so to have any coverage at all, one of your terms ending with an Honorable discharge would have had to come after the September 10th date.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the trade school you had planned on attending must be VA approved, so the issue might be the school’s lack of VA approval and not a GI Bill eligibility issue. Again, without more information, I have no idea of the issue that is causing the VA to deny you benefits.

If you think you meet the Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility requirements and your school is on the VA-approved list, then it could be the VA just does not have all of your service information.

If you have not submitted copies of your Honorable discharge certificates and contracts, I would try that first. If they still deny you benefits, then yes, I would hire a lawyer specializing in working with military benefits. Just know going in that win or lose, you have to pay for your own legal expenses.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I am currently enrolled under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and attending school full time during the year and using benefits. Can I use only the Tuition Assistance (Not GI Bill as well) to pay for a summer course? Or If I want to take a course through another school while enrolled in another and using GI Bill benefits, can I use the TA through GoArmyEd to pay for the secondary schools course? Thanks, Joel.

A: O.K. Joel, you are talking two different things here so I will address each one separately. If you are authorized to use Tuition Assistance (TA), meaning you are on active duty or in the Selected Reserves, yes you can use just TA to pay for a summer course.

However, keep in mind that TA usually only pays up to $250 per credit so anything over that amount would have to be paid by you. Also, if you already reached your $4,500 per year limit, you would have to pay the whole amount for your summer course out of pocket.

As far as using TA to pay for a course at one school while using your Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for courses at a different school, I see no reason why you could not do it, but remember you have to get all the credits to whichever school would be issuing your degree.

It is a good idea to see if your primary school accepts credits from the other school you want to attend. If not, then you might be better off not taking the courses unless you do not intend to pick up those credits.

If you were using the Montgomery GI Bill, then I would suggest using the Tuition Top-Up Program, as it is a great way to maximize your GI Bill benefits, but when using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it isn’t such a good deal.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend flight school. Does the flight school need to be VA approved? What is financially covered? Thank you.

A: In using your Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend flight school, there are a couple of different ways you can go. One is once you have your private pilot’s license (which in most cases you have to pay for yourself) you can then use your GI Bill to further your pilot training and certification. Going this way, your New GI Bill will pay up to $10,000 per year in flight training costs.

The second way is to enroll in a four-year degree-producing aeronautics flight program. Then the VA looks at this flight program as being a regular four-year degree program. It pays your tuition (up to the resident undergraduate rate) directly to your school and monthly you get a housing allowance that averages across the United States at $1,300.

Because the housing allowance is dependent on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking, the actual amount you would get could be higher or lower depending on where you go to school. Plus, once each semester, you would also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit up to the $1,000 per year cap.

Do your homework before signing up for a program though. Some four-year programs also include getting your private pilot’s license as part of their four-year program. Depending on your education goal, you can see it could be much more advantageous to enroll in a four-year program than to take an independent flight school course.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: When I came into the Army I received the student loan repayment as part of my enlistment. I am wondering if I am still eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: It depends on the number of years you end up serving. When you enlisted for the SLRP option, you automatically incurred a three-year obligation. Because you can’t acquire GI Bill eligibility and collect on the SLRP during the same period of time, you did not gain any Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility during your first three years of service.

However starting your fourth year, you did or would start gaining eligibility with full eligibility coming after a total of six years – three for your SLRP and three for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

So for six years of service not only would you get your student loans paid for, but you would also have acquired 36 months of education benefits that you could use to get an advanced degree.

Also in case you are interested, the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a benefits transfer program to qualified service members. To transfer part or up to all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, you have to have served for at least six years, be currently serving at the time of your transfer request and agree to serve for an additional four years.

If you have a spouse and/or dependent children that could be using your benefits to go to school, it could be a real financial boost for them. It’s something to think about if it applies to you. To make a transfer request, just go to the milConnect website and follow the instruction in the Transfer of Benefits Section.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Could I use my dad’s GI Bill? I can go to school free if it’s in the state of Indiana. I’m also joining the military, so could I use both my GI Bill and my dad’s?

A: If you can go to school for free in Indiana, then you must be referring to the Remission of Fees for Children of Disabled Veterans program. If your dad qualifies as disabled, then you may be eligible for up to 124 semester hours of tuition-free education at a state supported Indiana school.

As far as using your dad’s GI Bill, if he has the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transfers eligibility to you, then yes you could use it. However, if he only has the Montgomery GI Bill or does not make a transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you, then no, you can’t use it. Being he is the one who earned the benefit, he has full control over how that benefit is used.

To answer your last question, yes you could use both your GI Bill and your fathers (but not at the same time). By spending at least three years in the military, you would get 36 months of your own Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, plus you could get up to another 36 months from your father. And you could get the 124 hours from Indiana’s Remission Fees program.

But keep in mind that you only have up to age 26 to use Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, so if you go into the military right after high school, use your dad’s GI Bill benefits first. You have up to 15 years from your date of discharge to use your GI Bill benefits and I could not find an ending age for the Remission Fees program.