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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello! My question is I have an approved retirement date of 1 August 2013. I would like to transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and leave it to my son? Will I be able to? Do I have to stay in the military longer to do this? Thanks!

A: If you haven’t gone on terminal leave yet, you might still be able to make a transfer of benefits, but you are cutting it much too tight to be sure. But to try, go to the milConnect website now and click on the Transfer of Benefits Section. Follow the instructions. Keep going back to the website and look for a status of “Transfer Approved”. Once that happens, which can take up to 10 weeks, your son can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his Certificate of Eligibility. He would need that form when enrolling in school as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

The issue you most likely would run into is that the VA would not have approved your transfer request before you go on terminal leave.

After 1 August, anyone making a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request would incur an automatic four-year extension regardless if s/he is retirement eligible or not. The issue some servicemembers would run into is if they do not have at least four years left until they reach their Retention Control Point or High Year Tenure; if that is the case, then they can not get a transfer request approved.

I don’t know if you just found out about the transfer process now or not, but it would have been much better to have done this a year or so ago. That way your transfer would have been assured and your son would have had Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to go to school. I’m of the opinion that it is now too late, but it won’t hurt to try.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was recently advised by a VA counselor at my community college to apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill even though I still had 1 month and 29 days left on the Montgomery GI Bill. I did the application process after which I moved to another state and did not have any correspondence with VA. After moving I learned that the VA left a message which I didn’t receive telling me that I needed to rescind the application for the Post 9/11 GI Bill until I exhausted the 1 month and 29 days left on the Montgomery GI Bill (needed to do so within 7 to 10 days). I didn’t receive the message until about a week after the 7 to 10-day period. I contacted VA by email and I received a reply that unfortunately, my claim for Post 9/11 GI Bill was processed. I haven’t attended school or received any money since applying for Post 9/11 GI Bill (so I haven’t used it). Is it possible for me to appeal or cancel the Post 9/11 GI Bill claim and continue using my Montgomery GI Bill? What are my options? If I hadn’t been advised to do so, I would have never submitted the application knowing that that would only provide me with 1 month and 29 days.

A: The advice you were given was not entirely wrong. The part that was left out or the part you did not hear is what to put down for an Effective Date in Block 9F, Part II or VA Form 22-1990.

If you would have put down a date well after you had used up your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) eligibility, your 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement would have seamlessly kicked in and everything would have been fine.

But if you did not put an effective date in that space or put a date before you would have used up your MGIB benefits, then yes, you would have been converted to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with 1 month and 29 days of benefits left to use.

However, because you have not used your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you may be able to convert back to the Montgomery GI Bill and try again either after you have used up your MGIB or as I described above. Call the VA or the VA Regional Office in charge of your state and explain what happened, that you have not used your Post 9/11 GI Bill and you would like to convert back to the MGIB. If you do not get any satisfaction from who you talk to, ask to talk to his/her supervisor. Keep pressing until you can’t go any further. They have done this in select cases before, so they should be able to do it for you.

If your Post 9/11 GI Bill effective date is during a semester, then your new Certificate of Eligibility (COE) would most likely show that you have less than 12 months of eligibility left. The VA would have deducted what you had used between your effective date and when they cut your new COE.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served from 1988-1994 so my GI Bill time limit has expired. Are there any other benefits available for Veterans after the 10-year mark?

A: There may be other benefits available depending on if you are currently employed or not. If not, you may still be able to get in under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program – VRAP for short.

Basically, it is a 12-month program where you are paid the same rate each month as if you were using the Montgomery GI Bill – $1,564 per month. The purpose of the program is to train veterans in one of the High Demand Career Fields as identified by the Department of Labor (DOL). Once trained, the DOL will even help you find a job.

The general eligibility requirements for VRAP are:
• between the age of 35 and 60
• unemployed (at the time of application)
• have a discharge greater than dishonorable
• not eligible for the GI Bill
• not getting VA compensation due to unemployability
• not currently enrolled in a job training program at the state or federal level.

If you meet all of the above requirements, you can submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website as your application.

Also, Congress is working on a bill that if passed would reinstate expired GI Bill benefits. If passed, you could get some education assistance from your previously expired GI Bill. Now the general feeling is GI Bill benefits should not have an expiration date of which I agree.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is there a different set of rules for Reservists? And if so, what are they? For instance, I am a Reservist who has SLRP on my contract, but if I can’t use both benefits then I would choose the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

A: Yes Selected Reservists (including the National Guard) do fall under a different set of rules for many programs and the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is a good example. As a Selected Reservist, you can get the SLRP option with a six-year enlistment. Your active duty brethren can get it with as little as a three-year commitment. The other big difference is you do not need to have existing student loans at the time you sign up for SLRP, whereas active duty personnel have to have existing student loans that qualify for the program at the time of enlistment.

Even the Post 9/11 GI Bill program is different between the active duty and Selected Reserve as far as the transfer of benefits option. While both parties have to have served for at least six years, and have at least four years left on their enlistment at the time of a transfer of benefits request, active duty personnel have to be at the 100% tier level in order to make a transfer request. Selected Reservists can be at a lesser percentage. Typically a one-year Title 10 tour in support of a contingency operation rates a 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level.

The other difference is the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance for the spouse using transferred benefits. Active duty spouses do not get the housing allowance if the sponsor is still serving, but the spouse of a Selected Reservist does get it, although it is at the same tier level of payment as the sponsor’s tier level.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I transfer my military education to college credits?

A: First you have to request a transcript from your service branch. You would receive an “unofficial” copy, with an “official” copy going to your school, of all your training, schools and occupational positions that you held while serving that could be converted to college credits.

Your college, in turn, would use the American Council on Education (ACE) book to convert items on your military transcript to college credits. Most of the time, the credits you get from your military service are applied to your free-elective requirements.

However, not all colleges are created equal. Colleges vary in regard to the number of credits they will transfer in from military service or otherwise. It can vary from accepting all to none and everything in between.

The lesson learned? Shop around! Unless you plan on taking a program that only a school or two teaches (and then you are pretty well at their mercy), look at several schools until you find one that will give you what you think is a fair deal. You could end up shaving off up to five months of school time.

For you, that means extra GI Bill eligibility left over at the end of your program that you could use for an advanced degree, a certification, license, etc.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently serving in OEF, soon to be home. I’m in the Reserves joining at the age of 39. I signed up for 6 years active and 2 years inactive. I’m not going to be using my GI Bill so I’d like to transfer it to my son. He is attending Ohio University in his sophomore year of college. What do I need to do to have this transferred to him?

A: For Reservists and National Guardsmen, the rules to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a dependent child are a little different. If you were on active duty all the time, verses being on active duty due to a deployment order, you would need to be at the 100% tier before you could access the transfer option. With a typical one-year deployment, you would be at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. As FYI, that same percentage carries over to your son when you transfer benefits.

But since you are in the Selected Reserves and on active duty, you meet one of the qualification requirements for the transfer option with just 90 days of service on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, of which OEF qualifies. The other two requirements a servicemember has to meet are having:
- served for at least six years in the Armed Forces of the United States, which includes the Selected Reserve.
- at least four years left on your enlistment at the time you make your transfer request.

To make a transfer request, go to the milConnect website and follow the instructions in the Transfer of Benefits Section. Once your request is submitted, keep coming back to the TEB website where you made your transfer request, and look for a Status change to “Transfer Approved”.

Once that happens, then have your son go to the eBenefits website and submit VA form 22-1990e. In return, he would get back a Certificate of Eligibility that he would need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I had a full ROTC scholarship after 2001 so I was ineligible for most of the Post 9/11 money (though I was able to capitalize on the TA available to everyone). I am being medically retired in a couple months after 8 years of service and understand that veterans have access to Post-9/11 GI Bill money. Does my ROTC status affect my retirement GI Bill in any way or am I eligible for the same entitlements that any veteran is eligible for?

A: With a full ROTC scholarship, you were not acquiring Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility for four years after you were commissioned. However with your eight years of service, you still had four years left after satisfying your ROTC obligation, so you had more than enough time (three years are needed) to get full 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility.

So you should have 36 months of entitlement that you can use up to 15 years from your date of discharge to go to school. Attend a public school and the VA would pay up to the resident undergraduate tuition rate. Go to a private school and they would pay up to $19,198.31 per year.

Regardless of which route you take, you would also qualify for the monthly housing allowance and book stipend. The housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking and paid at the E-5 with dependents pay grade. The book stipend is paid once per semester and calculates at $41.67 per credit. Just so you know, there is a $1,000 per academic year cap on the book stipend, but it is enough to get paid for two 12-credit semesters per year.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: An eligible member of the Post 9/11 GI Bill can get full rate BAH by taking at least one residential class with online classes. This fact leads me to my following questions – If a member is taking online classes with an online college (primary school) with one residential class at a different school (secondary school), what zip code would be used for the full rate BAH, the primary school’s zip code or the secondary school’s zip code?

A: The VA would use the secondary school zip code to calculate your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

As you know under the current Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, if you take all online classes, then you are limited to the $684 per month in housing allowance. But as soon as you add in one resident classroom class per semester that can be credited to your degree plan at a brick and mortar school, then you qualify for the housing allowance that is calculated in part based on the zip code of the school where you physically attend class.

The number of credits you are taking, in addition to your Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level, are the other two parts that factor into the calculation. If you are taking enough combined credits to be classified full-time by your parent school – the one that will be issuing you your degree – then you can get the full housing allowance.

Of course you have to get the classes you plan to take at your secondary school approved by your parent online school first. Once approved, your parent school would send your secondary school a list of the classes you would take from them. Once finished with those classes, your secondary school sends a transcript to your parent school and they in turn post the completed credits to your degree plan. If your rate of pursuit of combined classes is classified as full-time and you do it as I have laid out here, it would go smoothly and you would get the full housing allowance.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from active duty in November 2008, before the Post 9/11 GI Bill was introduced. I came right back on active duty as a retiree recall and am currently still in that status. Am I eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits?

A: As a retiree recall, yes you are eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Because you have at least three years of service after September 10, 2001, you are at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level. That is important for benefit transfer purposes. So not only do you have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility (assuming you did not use Montgomery GI Bill benefits while on active duty in the Navy the first time), you have met one of the service requirements for transfer benefits. The others are:
- having served for at least six years
- currently serving at the time of the transfer request
- and being retirement eligible at the time of your transfer request.

However it is important to note that if you do intend to transfer benefits after August 1st, you would have to have at least four years left on your enlistment whether you are retirement eligible or not. That can be a problem if you don’t have that many years left until you reach your Retention Control Point (RCP). If you have less than four years left, you would not be able to get a transfer request approved.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can go to school and the VA would pay your tuition up to the resident undergraduate rate at a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year at a private school.

Being you are on active duty, you would not get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, but you would get the book stipend of $41.67 per credit per semester. There is a $1,000 per year cap on the book stipend.

One last note – if you waited until you are out to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you would get the monthly housing allowance.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the active duty Army Infantry. How do I find out which one I have – the Post 9/11 or Montgomery GI Bill?

A: Actually, you could have both. Do you remember signing up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you enlisted (and them deducting $100.00 per month for the first 12 months)? If so, then you have the MGIB. However, if you signed a declination at the time of enlistment, then you opted out of it and would not have an entitlement under that GI Bill to use.

But the good news is even if you opted out of the MGIB, you would still have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is free for your service to your country. All you have to do to get the full benefit is serve for at least three years on a Title 10 order (which you are by serving on active duty). In return for your service, you get 36 months of entitlement that you can use to go to school.

And you could have both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill. Many servicemembers have two GI Bills or more. The catch though is the Rule of 48. It states that if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the most combined eligibility you can have is 48 months, so you could get 36 months under the MGIB and 12 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

To find out what you have, submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. The Certificate of Eligibility you get back would show the months of eligibility and which GI Bill you have, along with your delimitation date when your eligibility would expire.