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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My school has recently cancelled my degree program, so I have decided to pursue another degree program at a school nearby. All of the new classes are online since it is impractical to take in person classes due to the distance. My question is this: can I remain enrolled at the old school and take a degree program that is entirely unrelated to the degree program at the new school and have the Post 9/11 GI Bill pay for it and also get the full housing allowance? The old school classes will be in-person. Thanks!

A:No you can’t remain enrolled at your old school in a degree plan that is totally unrelated to your new degree plan and here is why. The VA would not pay for classes not on your degree plan and the degree plan they have on file is from your old school.

That is not to say that you can’t take classes at two schools under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but not the way you have anticipated. This is the proper way – your school that would be issuing your degree is called your parent school. Your other school is your secondary school. You have to have your parent school approve the classes you want to take at your secondary school. Once finished with your secondary school classes, they send over a transcript to your parent school. Your parent school posts the credits to your degree plan and everyone is happy.

So what you need to do now is to send in VA Form 22-1995 Request for Change of School or Program so the VA has the correct degree plan on file. If you take all your classes online, then the most you can get as a full-time student is $674.50 per month in Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

However, if you take at least one class per semester that applies to your degree plan on campus, you can possibly double that monthly amount. So it may behoove you to drive once or twice a week to your school and take a classroom class to get the increased housing allowance.

Whether you choose all online or a mix of online and on campus, you would still get the $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend money (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: So I enlisted in the Army on Feb 8th 2006 for three years and 16 weeks. I reenlisted in Jan of 2009 for three more years. I got kicked out on Oct 18th 2011. Now everyone has been telling me that I get to keep my GI Bill, but when I submitted my 22-1990 to the VA, they denied my claim. Do I get to keep my GI Bill? Does they VA not know I reenlisted? Technically I got an honorable discharge right?

A: To answer your questions, yes you did get an Honorable Discharge from your first term of service and no the VA probably doesn’t know you reenlisted. If they had, then most likely they would have approved your VA Form 22-1990. So now it is your job to prove to them that you did in fact get an Honorable discharge from your first term of enlistment.

Did you get a DD256 Honorable Discharge Certificate when you reenlisted? You can use a copy of that form to prove that you were honorably discharged. Or you can send in a copy of your new DD4 papers. If your DD214 shows your reenlistment, you could also send in a copy of it as proof.

With over three years of service after September 10, 2001, you would have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% tier that you should be able to use. Once the VA gets your proof of honorable discharge, along with your new VA Form 22-1990, they should approve your New GI Bill application.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I just got out of the Army and I’m trying to go to college in the fall. What do I need to do to set up my GI Bill and do I need to change it to the new one?

A: Setting up your GI Bill to use is simple; just send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. In return you would receive a Certificate of Eligibility that you need when enrolling as a GI Bill student.

As far as if you should switch to the New GI Bill or not, it depends largely on your education goal. If you plan to only go as far as a Bachelor’s degree, then using 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill may be a good choice as it normally pays better than the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

However, if you plan on going further than a four-year degree, then you may be better off using up your 36 months of MGIB first and then switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months of benefits.

If you are thinking about switching to the New GI Bill right away, be sure and do your homework first as you can’t switch back if you made a mistake. There are situations where the Post 9/11 GI Bill may not be the best choice; for example if you attend a tuition-free school and your school’s zip code is in a low cost of living area.

If you don’t have to pay tuition, then compare what you would get in New GI Bill housing allowance against the $1,564 you would get under the MGIB. Also factor in that with the New GI Bill that you would also get up to $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend money (up to the $1,000 cap per year).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I have a question using the Hazelwood Act sort of in conjunction with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I used 24 of the 36 months of my Post 9/11 to get a degree. Then I transferred the remaining 12 months of my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my spouse. Does this mean I can now freely use the Hazelwood Act to go back to school? Or does the Post 9/11 have to be completely exhausted, by me or a dependent in order to start using the Hazelwood Act? I’m aware of the eligibility requirements for using the Hazelwood Act, and I do qualify, but it’s a little fuzzy when it comes to using up the Post 9/11 prior to using the Hazelwood Act. Thanks!

A: What the Hazelwood Act rules state are that you can’t use the Hazelwood Act in conjunction with the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for the same classes. This causes some confusion in that those with the Montgomery GI Bill can use both it and the Hazelwood Act at the same time and for the same classes. Different GI Bill – different rules.

Being you transferred your remaining unused Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement to your wife, you should be able to use your Hazelwood Act benefits now as your remaining Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits left to use would now show zero.

However if you end up with classes that the Hazelwood Act would not pay for, you could always transfer benefits from your wife back to you. As the sponsor, you always retain the right to revoke and either reallocate or use the benefit yourself – even after retiring from the military.

Most likely it shouldn’t be an issue as your Hazelwood Act should pay for all your classes as long as you stay within the limits of the Act.

If she plans to use them, then I would leave those benefits with her and just use your 150 hours of Hazelwood Act benefits. That is enough credit hours for about 8 semesters of school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I recently just finished my first semester of college using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I have signed up for summer classes to continue to get the housing allowance. If my class start June 10th and goes till August 9th, will I receive the housing allowance in June or July. One more question how does the pay work? Do they pay you on the first for that months housing allowance or do they pay you on the month for the previous months housing allowance. Thank you for any help in figuring this out.

A: When you get paid for your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance (and more on that in a minute), it should be for the 21 days in June that you attended school. Your July check should be for a full month and your August check for the 9 days you were in school.

The VA works on a 30-day month regardless of how many actual days there are in a month and they only pay you for the days you were supposed to be in school. Usually the first and the last month of a semester are not full months so you normally would not get full housing allowance in the beginning or at the end of a semester.

Now about when you get paid. Just so you know, it can take 8 to 10 weeks to get your first housing allowance payment at the start of each semester. For the rest of the semester, you should get paid during the beginning of each month. But, then note the process starts all over again for the next semester. The VA is always a month late in paying so the pay you get for one month is actually for the previous month.

Also note that when your school sends in a Certificate of Enrollment on your behalf can also affect the date when you see money deposited into your account. Some schools are more adept at submitting the required paperwork than others.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is will the GI Bill cover out of country schooling programs? I would like to get my executive certificate and counter-terrorism studies through the Counter-terrorism Institute in accordance with the Lauder School of Government in Israel. Will the G.I. Bill assist me with travel expenses and program tuition?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill would not assist you with travel expenses – that is on your own dime. However, your GI Bill may well pay for your studies at a foreign school provided the school is VA-approved.

Students attending a foreign or private school are paid according to a different pay scale than students going to school in the U.S. As a foreign school student, the VA would pay up to $18,077.50 per year in tuition. The foreign/private school tuition rate is going to $19,198.31 for the 2013/2014 academic year.

In addition, you would get the foreign housing allowance currently at $1,368 per month; that would increase on August 1st to $1,429 per month. You would also get a book stipend of $41.67 per credit per semester. There is a $1,000 per year cap on the book stipend, but it is usually enough for a couple of full-time semesters per academic year.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My daughter is attending a private college in GA and she has been using my husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill for two years now. Her grades have been pretty good and she has maintained at least a 3.0 GPA so far but I just found out that one of her classes this quarter she could possibly get a “D” which may throw her GPA to a 2.9. Is there a minimum required GPA to uphold while you are receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits? I’m afraid if she happens to fall below a 3.0 GPA the VA won’t pay for her next semester classes. And what would happen to her housing allowance if this happened. Thank you – Jill

A: No Jill, the VA does not have a minimum GPA that a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits must maintain. All they ask is that she receives a passing grade of which a “D” would be passing.

But for a second, let’s assume she does fail that class. The VA has a one-time/first-time policy in which she could drop up to six credits once with no questions asked and no effect on benefits.

After using the policy once however, future failed classes could stop benefits and may even require reimbursement back to the VA depending on the reason for failing.

Failed class reasons fall into two categories – mitigated and non-mitigated. If the VA found her reason for failing a class to be non-mitigating (out of her control), then most likely she would not be required to pay anything back.

However if the reason was determined to be mitigating (within her control), then they may require reimbursement and they would most likely stop her benefits until she could prove that whatever was causing her to fail had been corrected.

In regard to her Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, if they stop paying tuition, they would also stop paying the housing allowance and book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband wants to transfer part of his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me, his spouse. He has been in the USN for 15 years and may be pushed out due to being bumped down to an E5 this past month. I understand that the duty member has to have 4 years left of service in order to transfer GI Bill benefits to any dependents. Since he is HYT, I don’t think he will be able to reenlist to serve another 4 years. Is there any way around this? Also, if we are able to transfer part of the GI Bill and I use my portion for school, is there an expiration date on the other portion of the GI Bill? He told me that once any part of the GI BIll is activated that there is a 10-year deadline to use ALL of it or loose it. My concern is that we would like to leave part of it to our daughter, but she is only 6, so we have 12 years before she will graduate high school. Thank you in advance for your help. This is a great web site!!

A: As far as a way around his High Year Tenure, no there isn’t, but he may fall into the 10-year clause that says if he has served for at least 10 years and he can’t extend for four more years due to policy or procedures, of which High Year Tenure/Retention Control Point may be included, that he can make a transfer-of-benefits request and get it approved. He just has to agree to serve for as long as he can.This might work if he applies for a transfer of benefits before August 1st; it won’t after that date as there would be a High Year Tenure exclusion in place after the August 1st date.

For spouses having Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, the expiration date is 15 years from the sponsor’s date of discharge and not from the date when you first started using the GI Bill. The same rule also applies to the 10-year period he was thinking of for the Montgomery GI Bill.

So you can use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits anytime within that 15-year period after he gets out and not lose anything. What he told you about once you start using your benefits, you have to use them up is not true. You can start and stop anytime during that 15-year period.

At the time he makes a transfer request of GI Bill benefits to you, he should also give some benefits (at least one month) to his daughter. Her age at the time of the transfer is immaterial. She can start using her benefits at age 18 or once she has graduated from high school and she has until age 26 to use them up before they expire.

The advantage of giving both of you benefits now is that even after he retires from the military, he can still move benefits between the three of you. If neither you nor your daughter receive benefits now while he is in, then neither of you would be able to get benefits once he is out.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My son-in-law, on active duty 14 years, transferred his benefits to his wife and also his daughter. His wife is receiving benefits for her schooling, however, his daughter, a sophomore, has had only one course paid. She has recently been suspended for non-payment and was told the VA denied her benefits. She owes $1,127 before she can enroll for the summer term. She is in need of 3 courses to get her AA. Last term she was told the VA would not pay for a course which was not needed for her degree. She started to get her degree in one field, but subsequently changed. Does this affect what she can get paid? Can you tell me what gives?

A: There are two things you have to know about the VA and you already found out one of them – they will not pay for courses that are not creditable to the degree plan they have on file for her. The purpose of the GI Bill is to train the recipient in a skill or trade that can be used to make a living. Therefore courses not listed on a degree plan are not required to learn that skill or trade, hence the VA will not pay for them.

It is a way they use to help people manage their GI Bill benefits instead of wasting them on courses that may be fun to take, but do absolutely no good when it comes to training for a career.

The other thing you have to know is the person using the GI Bill has to keep the VA informed of changes. It sounds like your granddaughter started with one degree plan and then switched to a different one, but failed to inform the VA of the change. So she is taking classes under one degree plan while the VA still has her first degree plan on record and of course the classes she is taking are not matching up at the VA – hence why the VA is not paying for her classes.

What she needs to do to get back in the good graces with the VA is to submit VA Form 22-1995 - Request Change of Program or Place of Training. That will get her back on track with the VA.

Then she will have to pay what she owes her school and chalk it up to experience in using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was put out of service in 2005 with a medical discharge and I am wondering how I can check and see if I am eligible to use GI Bill benefits. Could you help me?

A: I can’t help you in the sense that I can look up your record and tell you exactly what you have for GI Bill benefits, as we are not affiliated in any way, shape or form with the VA. I can tell you what you might have for benefits though from the information in your question though.

Being you got out in 2005 (provided you had at least three years of service and your characterization of service was classified as “Honorable”) you would have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% tier that you could use up to 15 years after your date of discharge. You got those benefits just from having served for at least three years after September 10, 2001.

You also might have 36 months of benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) if you signed up for it when you first enlisted and paid your $1,200 “contribution” fee. Do you remember them taking out $100 per month for the first 12 months after you enlisted? If so, you have up to 10 years after you got out to use your MGIB.

If you indeed have both GI Bills, you will fall under the Rule of 48 which states that if you have two or more GI Bills, the most number of combined months of benefits that you can use is restricted to a maximum of 48. The way to use all 48 is to first exhaust your 36 months of MGIB benefits, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use your additional 12 months.

If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB months left, then all you would get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months you had left under the MGIB and not the additional months.