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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if I am able to get benefits from my step dad’s GI Bill?

A: While your question seems like it would have a simple answer, it does not; as a matter-of-fact, it can be quite complex to answer, because there could be so many different facets to it.

First, which GI Bill are you referring to? If your step dad had the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then the answer is no because that GI Bill (either the Selected Reserves or Active Duty versions) never had a transfer of benefits option to it.

If you are referring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then that could be a possibility as it does have a transfer of benefits. However, in order to make a transfer request, your step dad would have had to officially adopt you so that you would show up on his DEERS as one of his dependents. If he never formally adopted you, then you are not eligible to receive benefits.

And if he is not currently serving, he can’t make a benefits transfer request. The way the rules are written, he would have to meet three service requirements:
• Have served for at least six years of which three had to be after September 10, 2001.
• Currently serving at the time of the transfer request.
• Have at least four years left on his enlistment (unless he is retirement eligible or his current enlistment takes him to retirement). After August 1, 2013, he would have to extend for four years regardless of the number of years he has served.

So you can see there are a lot of moving parts to the answer of what seems like a simple question. But at least now, you know the requirements and how everything fits together. From this information, you would have to determine if you are eligible to receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits or not.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have the Student Loan Repayment Program, my question can I still get the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: It all depends on how long you enlisted for in the first place. If your enlistment was for three years, then no you would not get the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

When you opted for the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), you incurred a three-year obligation which would take you to the end of your enlistment. And according to the rules, you can’t use the same period of time for both SLRP and Post 9/11 GI Bill (or for any GI Bill for that matter).

However, if your enlistment was for six years, then yes you can get full Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility for those last three years because your first three years “paid back” your SLRP obligation.

Because this is your first GI Bill, you have 36 months of benefits that you can use to finish your four-year degree (if you haven’t yet), or to work on an advanced degree (or both).

To use your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would get a Certificate of Eligibility that you would need when enrolling in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My friend used 36 months of his MGIB-SR benefits in the mid 90’s. Since then he went active duty in the year 2000. He could have at any time made the $1,200.00 contribution payment to get another 36 months of the MGIB-AD, but has not. Can he get 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill instead?What if he paid the $1,200.00 contribution fee to get the MGIB-AD and then put in for the Post 9/11 GIB and asked for a refund of the $1,200.00 after the fact?

A: No your friend can’t get an additional 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Why? Under the Rule of 48, if a servicemember is eligible for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of combined months of benefits is capped at 48. So because he has already used up 36 of those months, the most additional months of benefits that he could get would be 12.

And now onto your second question – if he had the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with months of entitlement left, then he would get a prorated amount of his $1,200 contribution fee back once he used up the last of his converted benefit. His contribution fee payment would come as part of his last housing allowance payment.

How much he would get back is calculated by dividing his $1,200 MGIB contribution fee by 36 months and then multiplying that figure by the number of months he brought across.

So in the end, it was a wise choice not to “buy” into the Montgomery GI Bill – Active duty, because that additional 12 months of benefits would have cost him $1,200, where by converting to the Post 9/11 GI Bill cost him nothing for the additional months of benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Before the Post 9/11 GI Bill came into effect, I only used about a year or so of my GI Bill and once the New GI Bill started I begun taking campus classes. Now I am near the end (2 more classes) before receiving my degree. But now I am strongly considering pursing my Master’s Degree; I was wondering will I be able to request and extension in hopes of receiving my Masters?

A: From your question, I can’t ascertain if you switched from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) already to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or not.

If you are still using the MGIB, then once you have exhausted all of your benefits under that GI Bill, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits. That should get you about halfway to your master’s degree.

However, if you have already switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then all you got was the same number of months of benefits as you had left under the MGIB and you would not get the additional 12 months of benefits. In that case, you would have to fund your master’s degree out-of-pocket or through other financial aid.

If you are still using the MGIB, but want to switch to the New GI Bill, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. Be sure to mark Block 9F in Part II, put in an effective date (well after when you would use up the last of your MGIB, and mark the Chapter 30 box.

In return, you would get a new Certificate of Eligibility showing that you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, 12 months of entitlement left to use and a delimitation date as to when you have to use your benefits (or lose them after that date).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How can I check to see if transferred benefits to my dependent child has started?

A: I’m not sure what you mean by “started”. If you mean has your transfer-of-benefits request been approved, then all you have to do is keep going back to the TEB website periodically and look for a status change to “Transfer Approved”.

However, if you mean has your child started using his/her Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, there really isn’t a sure way to tell until either the school or your child each start receiving payments.

But to start using benefits, and once your transfer request has been approved, your child has to go to the eBenefits website and request his/her Certificate of Eligibility (COE) by submitting VA Form 22-1990e.

Then when enrolling in school, s/he will have to turn in a copy of the COE to the school. The school will in turn send in a Certificate of Enrollment on behalf of your child. That certificate is what triggers the process to start.

Just so you know, it can take up to eight weeks until your child or the school sees a payment deposited into either account. After the initial payment, your child should see a payment around the same time each month for the duration of the semester. Once a new semester starts, at least for now, the process (including the initial wait period) starts all over again.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi My husband retired from the military in 2011. Prior to his retirement, he allocated some of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to our oldest daughter that was attending college at that time. Our youngest one began college this year and we were told that she is not eligible for the benefits because he didn’t transfer any benefits to her prior to his retirement. At that time our youngest was not in college and we were not aware he could transfer regarding. Is there is any way to allocate the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits from one child to another? My oldest one is not planning on using them.

A: What you were told is correct. In order to revoke Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits from one child and give them to another child, the child receiving them has to have had received benefits from the servicemember sponsor while that person was still serving on active duty.

Not that it does you any good now, but the best way for your husband to have transferred benefits would have been to give each daughter and you each one month of benefits. Then after he retired, he could have moved benefits around at will between himself and the three of you. But since the youngest daughter never had benefits before he retired, she can’t receive them now.

Evidently, your husband was given some bad information if he thought the recipient had to be of college age to receive benefits. Many servicemembers transfer benefits to very young children that would not use their benefits for another ten to 12 years from now.

Too bad – you have one daughter that has benefits and won’t be using them and another daughter that wants to use the benefits, but can’t get them.

The best thing now would be either for your husband to revoke the benefits and use them himself, or convince his eldest daughter to use them.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I just enrolled into Tulsa Welding School and I guess my question is I already have my Post 9/11 GI Bill paperwork and I will start school in August 2013. I want to know how much the GI Bill will cover, how long it will take to get my BAH, who do I need to call to receive such payments.

A: As far as what your Post 9/11 GI Bill would cover, it depends on your tier level. Assuming you are at the 100% level, then it would pay for all of your resident tuition and eligible fees at a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year at a private school.

In addition, you would get up to $948 in monthly housing allowance MHA (not BAH as that is entirely different). The MHA amount I quoted was for the school zip code in Tulsa, OK. For their Jacksonville, FL campus, the MHA would be $1,311.

You would also get up to $83 per month in book stipend money, if your welding school is of the vocational type and not on a credit-based system or up to $41.67 per credit if you are in a credit-based system and degree-producing course.

When you first enroll, it can take up to 8 weeks before you see any money, so you will want to be financially prepared to weather out this dry spell. After that, you should see your MHA deposited into your account about the same time each month.

To start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would receive your Certificate of Enrollment. Turn in a copy of your certificate when you enroll in school. Your school would submit a Certificate or Enrollment on your behalf and that is what starts your GI Bill payments.

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 at least 20 years in. 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 four 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: Are active duty dependents eligible for benefits under the Hazelwood Act? My GI Bill was used by another child and I have reviewed the Hazelwood Act and meet criteria, but am still on AD. Ideally I will remain on AD for the next 5 years or so, but a have a son who wants to attend college in Texas.

A: As a recap, to qualify for Hazelwood Act benefits as a Veteran, you must:
• At the time of entry into the U.S. Armed Forces, designated Texas as Home of Record; or entered the service in Texas; or was a Texas resident;
• Have received an honorable discharge or separation or a general discharge under honorable conditions;
• Served at least 181 days of active duty service (excluding training), as indicated by “net active service” (the sum of 12(c) and 12(d) on the DD214);
• Have no federal Veteran’s education benefits, or have no federal Veterans education benefits dedicated to the payment of tuition and fees only (such as Chapter 33 or 31; Pell and SEOG are not relevant) for term or semester enrolled that do not exceed the value of Hazlewood benefits;
• Not be in default on a student loan made or guaranteed by the State of Texas; and
• Enroll in classes for which the college receives tax support (i.e., a course that does not depend solely on student tuition and fees to cover its cost), unless the college’s governing board has ruled to let Veterans receive the benefit while taking non-funded courses.

In everything I’ve read on the Hazelwood Act, the exemption only applies to veterans. If you dig into the HE-V packet which is what you would have to fill out for the exemption as a veteran, it talks more in depth about having to be a veteran and including the information on your DD-214 and characterization of service.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Now that they have done away with break pay, most schools are only in session 210-225 days if you take the summer off. If we have 1,080 days (or is it 1095 days) of benefits, is seems we would have almost 5 academic years of benefits. Is this true? If you have days remaining after 4 years can continue to use those benefits?

A: If a school is on 16-week semesters, students are in school around 224 days. If you divide that into the 1,080 days of benefits, it comes out to 4.82 years, so yes you are right. It is almost 5 years of entitlement.

Once you have a degree, yes you can continue to use your remaining unused benefits for up to 15 years from your date of discharge. To get the most value out of your remaining GI Bill benefits, it would behoove you to work on the next level degree in your chosen field or related field.

For example, if you get a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, you might want to work toward a master’s degree in Business Administration, using your remaining unused entitlement. That would be an example of a natural progression in degrees in your career field.

Generally speaking, the VA won’t let you work on another degree at the same or lower level. For instance, you most likely would not be able to get an associate’s degree, if you already used your GI Bill entitlement to get a bachelor’s degree.

But because the VA has the final say, always run your education goals past them to see if they would approve them or not.