This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am pregnant and four years away from retirement. My goal is to convert my legacy GI Bill/College Fund benefits to Post 9/11 GI Bill and transfer that to my child. Is this possible and if so, is it a good idea?

A: It is possible (and a great idea, especially if you don’t have any intentions of using your GI Bill benefits yourself) to convert your Legacy GI Bill (the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transfer its benefits to your child once s/he is born.

And just so you know, you couldn’t transfer your College Fund benefits to your child. Also keep in mind that if you transfer all of your GI Bill benefits to your child, you would not have any benefits left for yourself to use in conjunction with your College Fund.

Once your child is born, and you have him/her registered in DEERS, you can go to the milConnect website and make a transfer request. Just click on the Transfer of Benefits link to get started. Once finished, the Status Block will show “Transfer Pending”.

Keep checking back occasionally and watch for that status to change to “Transfer Approved”. Once the status changes, then your benefits have been transferred to your child.

Right now, your child would go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get a Certificate of Enrollment and use those benefits. What the procedure will be once s/he is ready to go to college is unknown, but it will be something similar.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I was in the MA ARNG from March 1999 to June 2006. I applied, without contacting a VA officer, for benefits and was denied. When serving in the Guard, does the 10-year rule not apply? I was curious as to the denial, and was told I simply don’t qualify. Maybe I didn’t apply correctly? Is there someone I can contact for better info? I initially was supposed to do a 4×2, but ended up re-enlisting for another 4 as I anticipated flight school. So I actually did 2 more years-worth of benefits.

A: The 10-year rule does apply when using the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), however, it applies differently. The MGIB-SR is only good for 10 years while you are serving. This means you only have 10 years to use your Reserve GI Bill while you are still in. Once you hit 10 years of service, it expires.

The other unique thing about the Reserve GI Bill is once discharged, your GI Bill immediately expires, so you do not have the 10 years after you get out to use your Reserve GI Bill as you would if you had the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD).

It is unfortunate that you did not know these rules while you were still in as you would have had some time left to use some of your GI Bill benefits.

However, all may not be lost; if you deployed on a Title 10 Order in support of a contingency operation for at least 90-days after September 10, 2001 while you were in the Guard, you most likely have some Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility that you can use even if you are now out of the Guard. A typical one-year deployment would give you 36 months of benefits at a 60% tier level that you have 15 years from your date of discharge to use.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: We are looking for a counselor to help us determine the best course for our 18-year old senior. He had problems getting his new school (moved in his senior year) to accept his classes, so he could not apply to colleges in the fall or spring. He is stuck with schools that allow open enrollment or perhaps going to a community college with us paying and then transferring to a university and using the GI Bill. We don’t understand how the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon work together. He’d like to go to Syracuse which is a Yellow Ribbon school. I don’t understand how the GI Bill works with the YR. And do you think it is wise to go to a Community College first then use the GI Bill when he transfers to a university?

A: First, the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits students in any of these three situations:
- paying out state tuition
- attending graduate school.
-attending a private school.

What happens is if your son would have a difference in tuition left after the Post 9/11 GI Bill paid what it could (which he would not have a difference for at a community college unless he is paying out state tuition), then his school would pay up to 50% of the difference and the VA would pay an equal amount. The school could also have in their agreement to pay a lesser percentage than 50%. In that case, he may have a small amount left to pay.

Second his sponsor, whether that is you or your husband, most likely had 36 months of benefits that could have been transferred to him. If all were transferred to him, he has enough for four 9-month academic years.

So with that said, whether he goes to a community college for a couple of years and you pay for it, depends on his education goal. If he plans on getting an advanced degree after his bachelor’s degree, then it makes sense to pay for a community college, because graduate school is so much more expensive than community college undergraduate tuition; he could “save” his GI Bill to use later when the tuition is more expensive and he could get some good out of the Yellow Ribbon program.

However, if his goal is to get a bachelor’s degree and stop, then he might as well start using his GI Bill benefits right now and save you from spending two years worth of tuition.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has been in the military over 20 years and wants to transfer his GI Bill to me, his spouse. If he already has his 20 years in and may retire in the next 2-3 years possibly, I assume he needs to transfer this soon. My question/s are, does he have to serve longer in the military being he hasn’t transferred his GI Bill yet? Also, if the answer is yes, how long? I read somewhere and I can’t find it now, that if he’s retiring that they suggested he speak to someone first before transferring it also. Is this correct?

A: On August 1, 2013, a change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill will go into effect. After that date if your husband wants to transfer his GI Bill benefits to you, he has to extend for four years – providing he can.

The one thing that could prevent him from extending is if he has less than four years left before he hits his High-Year Tenure or Retention Control Point. If that is the case, then he would not be able to make a transfer of benefits to you.

If he makes his transfer of benefits request before the August 1st date though, he wouldn’t have to extend being he already has served at least 20 years. And if he was within four years of being retirement eligible, he could have extended for just enough years to bring him to the 20-year mark.

Actually, the change has been planned since the Post 9/11 GI Bill was enacted on August 2009. In the beginning 1, 2 and 3-year extensions were being offered so a maximum number of people could participate in the program. Now that we are into the fourth year of the program, the change will kick in and those programs that are for less than four years will no longer be offered.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a new service member and through basic training, however, I declined the New GI Bill not knowing exactly what it was all composed of. Now that I am in the Operational AF, I have looked into the New GI Bill and was wondering if I could still apply.

A: I think you are mixing apples and oranges in your question. Number one is you don’t have to apply or pay a fee for the New or Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is free to you just by serving on a Title 10 order for a minimum of 90 days after September 10, 2001.

The GI Bill you declined was the Montgomery GI Bill. That is the one offered at basic training and the one that you have to pay a $1,200 contribution fee – $100 per month for your first 12 months of service.

Generally speaking, the New GI Bill is a much better GI Bill anyway. If you spend at least three years on active duty and get out with an Honorable discharge, you will have 36 months of education benefits you can use … enough for four 9-month academic years of school.

However, you could also use your New GI Bill benefits while serving. It is called the Tuition Top-Up program. How it works is if you are using Tuition Assistance (TA), your service branch pays your whole tuition bill. The amount over what TA can pay by law is billed by your service branch to the VA.

The VA in turn deducts the number of months in your semester from your Post 9/11 GI Bill unused remaining benefits. If the tuition difference is small, you may want to just pay it out-of-pocket instead of burning up a semester’s worth of GI Bill benefits for what little bit you would get out of it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, Ron. I am Navy Master Chief Petty officer and I have transferred my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my daughter, who wishes to attend the University of New Hampshire this fall as a full-time student. My question is: If she applies her GI Bill benefit for the full tuition at UNH, will it cover all of it or only part of it? Thank you for your assistance on this complicated matter.

A: How the Post 9/11 GI Bill works is it would pay her tuition in full up to the resident undergraduate level at UNH. So if she is a resident of New Hampshire, her tuition would be paid in full. However if she is not, and has to pay non-resident rates, she would most likely be left with an unpaid difference. In that case, the Yellow Ribbon Program (YR) would kick in and help pay the difference.

When the school set up their YR agreement, they would have stipulated what percentage they would pay; they could pay up to 50%. The VA agrees to pay an equal amount. So in theory, her difference could be paid in full. However, if her school agreed to a lesser percentage, then she would have a small difference left after her school and the VA each paid their shares.

Regardless if she is a resident or non-resident, she would also get the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and book stipend. The book stipend is calculated based on $41.67 per credit per semester; it does have a $1,000 yearly cap. The MHA is calculated based on the zip code of her school and the number of credits she is taking.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I’m in the active duty Corps right now and was curious as to what benefits I would receive if I decided to reenlist as a reservist after 4 years of active duty. Would I receive the full GI Bill, or the Reservist version of the Bill, or would I have a choice? Thank you for your time.

A: With four years of active duty, you already have at least 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% tier. You automatically became eligible with three years of active duty service after September 10, 2001. The only thing that could prevent you from using it would be if you got anything less than a fully Honorable discharge.

If you signed up for and paid in your $1,200 contribution when you first enlisted, you may also have the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). If you do, there could be a couple of ways you could use both GI Bills. You could use up all of your MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of education benefit.

Or you could switch right away and use your 36 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You would not get the additional months of benefits, but the New GI Bill normally pays a much higher rate than the MGIB. In the end, it comes down to deciding if you need the additional time, such as for both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, or if you plan on only getting a BA.

As far as getting the Reserve GI Bill, you would get it with a six-year enlistment in the Reserves or National Guard, but it really won’t do you much good as the Post 9/11 GI Bill and MGIB are both much better pay-wise. About all you would get by joining the Reserves would be pay for drilling, building points for retirement and continuing your service to your country.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, my name is Jalyn and my father is a veteran. I don’t think he has ever used his GI Bill benefits, nor has any of my siblings, so would it be possible for me to use them? I will graduate from high school on 5/23/13 and I plan on attending Alabama A&M University in the fall, but the tuition is a little too much for my mom so can I have his benefits? I’ll be anticipating your response, thank you in advance.

A: Jaylan, I would love for you to have your father’s GI Bill benefits if it was up to me, but it isn’t and here is why. First, it depends on which GI Bill your father has. If he has the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), he would not have been able to transfer benefits to you because it never had a transfer-to-dependents option to it. The only thing he could really do with it is use it himself.

If he has the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it does have a transfer option where he could have given the benefits to your mom, and/or you and your siblings. But he can’t now because when Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, they put in the servicemember had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009″ to make a transfer request; once retired, it was too late.

But don’t let that daunt your college aspirations. If you want to go to school bad enough, you will find a way to do it. My recommendation is to start by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application and see what you can get in student financial aid; it may surprise you.

Also your college may give out its own scholarships. Do some research as far as scholarships and grants that are available; apply for everything you can.
The nice thing about scholarships and grants are they do not have to be repaid; loans do, so be careful when taking them out so you don’t rack up too much debt.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If my husband decides to transfer his GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, does he have to pay any fee to do that? Thank you.

A: I’ve been getting this question a lot lately; I’m not sure where it is coming from all of a sudden but as with most rumors, it is not true. Transferring from one GI Bill to another is free.

One question that must be first answered is his Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility. Minimum eligibility of 40% is acquired by serving on a Title 10 order for a minimum of 90 days after September 10, 2001. Maximum eligibility (100%) comes with at least three years of service or more on the same type order and after the same date.

So if he meets the eligibility requirement, all he has to do to transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill is go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, he will get a Certificate of Eligibility that he will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

On his certificate, it will show the type of GI Bill he has, how many months of entitlement and the date they expire.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a combat medic in the active Army. I wish to get out in about a year and will have done 4 years with an honorable discharge, unless I off a general or something crazy. My plan of action is to get my PA which is roughly 5-6 years of schooling. I am told the Post 9/11 GI Bill will cover it ALL! With the squirrel of a military we got, that sounds too slippery to hold on to the assured thought of such. Please, lift my face from this mud puddle and point me in the right direction.

A: If we just look at purely the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you would only have 36 months of benefits, enough for four 9-month academic years. However, because you are staying in the same field as you were in the military, you should be able to pick up some college credits from your medic training and experience.

To start the credit transfer process, you will need to request a transcript of your military service. Your Basic, AIT and other specific medic training can all count for something along with your MOSs that you have held.

Once your school has a copy of your transcript, it would evaluate the information on it against the ACE document that all colleges have to come up with a number of credits that will apply to your degree plan. They may also have a maximum number of credits you can transfer in. However, whatever you get will reduce the number of credits you would need to graduate.

Another thing you might want to look into is getting some credits through DANTES. You can take CLEP, DSST or ESE tests and if you pass, you get the credit for the class without having to sit through it. The tests are free to to by military members; not doing so is like throwing away free credits.

So between DANTES and your transcript, you just may have enough Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement to get your PA degree or at least a good chunk of it.