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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My wife and I are getting divorced. I have already transferred my Post 9/11 GI Bill to her. I would like to transfer the benefits back to myself to possibly use for future children and so on. Is this possible?

A: I can’t tell by your question if you are still serving or not. That is important because it has a great effect on what you can do with your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits should you decide to take them back. First, as the servicemember earning your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can do anything you want with them to include revoking them from the recipient to whom you gave them to.

However, I do want to explain something as far as taking them back and keeping them to give to your “future children”. The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules read, you can only transfer benefits while you are “currently serving”. So that means you would have to have those “future children” and make a transfer request to them while you are still in. Once retired, it is too late to make an initial transfer of benefits to them.

However, if you do have those children, make a transfer request to them, and get it approved while you are still serving, then even after you are out, you can allocate more Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to them. You can give those benefits from the unused remaining months you have or revoke them from one of your previous recipients and reallocate them. Keep in mind, you can’t move benefits that have already been used by the recipient.

If you do not have those children before you are out, then you can’t transfer benefits to them initially after you are out. So that brings me back to the first part of my answer as far as if you really want to take the benefits you transferred to your wife or not.

If you do not plan on having those “future children” before you get out or use the transferred benefits yourself, then it would be a great gesture on your part to leave your transferred benefits with your wife and let her use them to help her start her new life.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I have been attending college and when my husband (active duty-Post 9/11 GI Bill) became eligible to transfer his benefits to me, he did that. We have received the letter stating that his MGIB benefits were relinquished to establish my Transfer of Benefits eligibility, so we are just waiting for my certificate of eligibility. Anyway, what I am wondering is what tuition will be covered. Is it only the tuition that becomes due after I receive the certificate of eligibility or does it cover tuition that I have had to pay after my husband requested the transfer that was due while the review process is being done? Any help is appreciated greatly.

A: To make it easy to explain, you can’t use something you don’t have yet. Because you would not have Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility until his transfer request has been approved, you could not claim tuition before that approval date.

As far as what the VA would pay in tuition, it depends on if you attend a public or private school. Different rules for each type of school. For a public school, the VA will pay your school directly up to the resident, undergraduate rate. For a private school they would pay up to $18,077.50 per year. By the way, that figure is going to $19,198.31 per year on August 1st for the 2013/2014 school year.

One other payment you would get is the book stipend. It is calculated at $41.67 per credit per semester with a $1,000 annual cap. That is enough for two 12-credit semesters per academic year.

If your husband is still serving, then you would not get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance as he is already drawing BAH for you from the military side. However, if you choose to use your benefits after he is out, then you would qualify for the housing allowance which for right now averages $1,300 per month across the U.S. What you would actually receive varies as it is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, My husband transferred his Post 9-11 GI Bill over to me (his spouse) last year. I’m finally going back to school this coming semester, while my husband is deployed with the Air Guard. How does his deployment affect my BAH benefits with the Bill? I’ve heard that active duty military service members do not receive BAH benefits, but if he will only be deployed for one month into my school semester, does that mean that I will not receive any living allowance for the whole semester? Thank you very much for any information!

A: It is true; active duty military servicemember spouses do not receive Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance (not BAH, as that is entirely different and you will see what I mean in a minute) because their military spouse is drawing BAH for them. To get both would be double-dipping.

However, because the VA operates on a day-by-day basis, the only housing allowance you would not receive would be for the month in the semester that he is deployed (because he is most likely drawing BAH for you during his deployment).

Once he is back and off deployment orders, make sure to send in a copy of his orders showing his active duty release date. Otherwise it can take awhile for the system to update and capture the change. Once the VA sees that he is no longer drawing BAH on you, then they can start sending you the housing allowance.

Keep in mind that you would get your tuition paid for directly to your school and you would get the book stipend even while your husband is deployed. For a full-time student, that runs about $500 per semester. But there is a $1,000 per year cap on it so you would have enough for two semesters per year of school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in the Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005. I got out with an Honorable discharge and then I was also in the Reserves for a couple years doing drills. I received an Honorable as well. I joined the Army in 2009 and I am being admin separated 06/2013 and receiving an Other Than Honorable. I switched from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9-11 GI Bill two years ago. Will I still receive the benefit? Thank you for your time.

A: Yes you will. Your four years of time in the Marine Corp (2001 – 2005) ending with an Honorable discharge secured your Post 9/11 GI Bill (at the 100% tier, I might add). So you have 36 months of education benefits that you can use.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your 100% of your public school, resident undergraduate tuition directly to your school. If you are taking at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time, then you would receive a percentage (based on your rate of pursuit) of the Monthly Housing Allowance. You would also get the book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit hour per semester.

However, there is a $1,000 per year cap on it, but it is enough to get you through two full-time semesters per academic year. To start using your benefit, you would have to first get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would receive your COE showing which GI Bill you have, how many months of entitlement and the expiration date.

So if you end up getting an OTH, you have nothing to worry about as far as your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in the military in 1989 and paid the $1,200 for the Montgomery GI Bill. I separated in 1995 and used a portion of my GI Bill. I was commissioned in 1997 and am still serving on active duty. I plan to return to school and use the remainder of my Montgomery GI Bill. Here is the question: I transferred my Post 911 GI Bill benefits to my children two years ago. Will they still be able to use the 12 months of Post-911 benefits even though I still had the Montgomery GI Bill at the time of transfer? And will the initial transfer date still be valid since I technically didn’t have the post-911 at the time of request. Very confusing!

A: It can be very confusing, but I’ll do my best to explain it. First, if you were eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill when you made a transfer request, you gave up what benefits you had left under the Montgomery GI Bill, if that was the only other GI Bill you had besides the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So you do not have any benefits left under that GI Bill that you can use to go back to school.

Second, you would have been only able to transfer the number months you had left under the Montgomery GI Bill and not any additional Post 9/11 GI Bill months. The only way to get the additional 12 months is to first exhaust all of your old GI Bill months of benefits. So I’m not sure how many months you tried to transfer.

Third, did you ever go back in to the TEB website and see if your transfer request was approved? The Status Block would show “Transfer Approved”. If you were not Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible at the time you made the request, your children probably do not have approved benefits they can use.

Go back in and check. If your transfer requests were not approved, re-submit and follow-up this time. When (or if) approved, then each child has to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get their Certificate of Eligibility that each one of them will need when enrolling in school. If they have already done that and they got their COE, then they should be good-to-go.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a Soldier and was married to another Soldier, we had two kids. I have rolled over my GI Bill to my kids, and they have since used up all the benefits. Can my husband now roll over his benefits also so my kids can continue their education? Kind of like double dipping.

A: He certainly can, provided he meets the three requirements to make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request:
• Have served for at least six years
• Currently serving
• Able to extend for an additional four years; he would need enough years left on his Retention Control Point to be able to extend for four years.

So if eligible, he can make a transfer request. Because you have already been through the transfer and Certificate of Eligibility process before, I won’t bore you with the details of it again.

If he has not used any of his benefits, he should have 36 months that he can split evenly between the two kids (or however he wants to split it up). With dependents, they are not limited to 48 months of GI Bill benefits as are servicemembers.

Take your case for example; between you and your husband, you two had 72 months to transfer to your kids. If split evenly, each kid has enough benefits to get a four-year degree almost for free and most likely with no college education loans. Did you know that the average college graduate today comes out with a four-year degree and over $20,000 in student loans? What a future to face! But your kids will have it made, debt-free.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in the USMCR in 1992 and enrolled in the Reserve MGIB; I used a portion of it throughout the 90’s but I do not think I used all of my benefits. I am currently deployed in Afghanistan, this will be my 3rd deployment as a reservist since 2004 and I will have right around 30 months of active duty service when complete here. I am looking into if I am eligible for the Post 911 GI Bill and if so, I want to transfer the benefits to my 2 children. I have many questions like, if eligible will it be for the full 36 months or less? What is the process of transfer, i.e. what steps do I need to take? I am clear that I will have to have at least 3 more years of service on contract at the time of transfer.

A: You are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With 30 months of eligible service, you would be at the 90% tier, meaning the VA would pay 90% of your tuition, and you would get 90% of the housing allowance and book stipend. Your recipients would inherit that same percentage on a benefits transfer.

However, the sticking point could be that you have Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) benefits left. The most months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits you would get would be the same amount you have left under the MGIB-SR. But, you might as well make a transfer request and get what you can out of it because those MGIB-SR months expired long ago.

To make a transfer request, go to the milConnect website and submit a transfer request. Once you click on the Submit button the Status Block will show “Transfer Pending”. Keep checking back periodically and look for the status to change to “Transfer Approved”. Once that happens, then your children receiving the benefits can go to the eBenefits website and each submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, each will get a Certificate of Eligibility that they will need when enrolling in school.

As far as the amount of time you must have left on your enlistment, you will most likely incur a four-year extension with a transfer of benefits. Due to a recent change that took effect on August 1, 2012, even if you have at least 20 years of service and are already “retirement eligible”, you will likely extend for four years.

However, if you do not have four years left until you hit your High Year Tenure, then you would most likely not be able to get a transfer request approved. I’m still trying to gather more information on this recent change.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 8 months left on a 5-year enlistment. I chose the Loan Repayment Plan when I enlisted. Do I get any GI Bill benefits for the 2 years after my 3-year LRP commitment? If so, did I have to apply right after the 3 years? Can I still apply?

A: Yes you will have GI Bill benefits, but you don’t have to apply to get them – only apply when you are ready to use them. Let me explain.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill is free to you just by you serving your country on a Title 10 order for a minimum of 90 days after September 10, 2001. There isn’t a sign-up process or required contribution as there is with the Montgomery GI Bill.

Yes, you are correct in noting that the first three years of your service will go to “pay back” LRP. However, your two years after that will get you 36 months of education benefits at the 80% tier level. One more year of service and you would be at the 100% level, so that might be worth considering.

Once you decide you are ready to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you will get your Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student. On your certificate, it will say which GI Bill you are authorized, how many months of benefits you have left to use, your tier level, and when your benefits will expire.

Once you are enrolled in school, the VA will pay 80% of your tuition at the resident undergraduate level. The remaining 20% would be your responsibility. You would also get 80% of both the housing allowance and book stipend.

Because you initially signed up for LRP, I’m assuming you already have a four-year degree. If you served one additional year, then you would also qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program which could help offset graduate school tuition rates, which as you know are considerably higher than undergraduate.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am about to finish my first semester of college using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m considering signing up for summer classes to continue to get the housing allowance. If my class starts June 10th and will go until 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: If your summer session starts on June 10th, then you should get paid in July for the 21 days you attended school in June. Just so you know the VA usually pays the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance a month after the fact. However, the first month of a new semester can take longer.

In August, you should get a full month’s worth of housing allowance based on your attendance in July. In September, your housing allowance would be for only 9 days in August.

Let me clarify how the VA calculates the housing allowance. When I said a “full months’ worth”, that was assuming your rate of pursuit is classified as full-time. If so, then you would get the full amount authorized for the zip code of your school and paid at the E-5 with dependents pay grade (and times your tier percentage).

However, if your rate of pursuit is less than full-time, then you would get the full E-5 with dependents rate multiplied by the percentage of your rate of pursuit (and again times your tier percentage).

Also, many schools have a different number of credits they consider to be full-time for their Summer Sessions, so while 12 credits may be your school’s full-time floor (the least number of credits you can take and still be considered full-time) for the Winter and Spring semesters, they may use a figure of 6 or 8 credits as full-time for their Summer sessions. Check with your school to see what figure they use.

I’ve run into many students that get freaked out over the reduced number of credits they are taking for the Summer Session, and not knowing their schools Summer Session policy, think they are not going to get the full housing allowance for that semester.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have never received a straight answer. Can I use TA and my Post 9/11 GI Bill at the same time? Any help would be greatly appreciated… Respectfully submitted.

A: Here is the straight answer – yes you can. However, the combination of using the two is called something different – the Tuition Top-Up Program. Under Top-Up, your service branch pays your tuition in full. However, if your tuition costs more than what Tuition Assistance (TA) is authorized to pay (which normally is $250 per credit with a $4,500 per year maximum), then the excess amount is billed to the VA. They in turn reimburse your service branch for the amount billed to them.

For those using the Montgomery GI Bill, the VA figures out how many months/days of tuition they paid and deducts that amount from your unused GI Bill benefits. The deducted amount is figured by dividing the amount paid to the service branch divided by $1,564 – the monthly amount of the Montgomery GI Bill.

For Post 9/11 GI Bill users, the amount deducted is for the duration of the course, meaning if the course is a semester long, then 4 months of benefits are deducted from your Post 9/11 GI Bill, regardless of the actual amount the VA paid back to your service branch. If the amount the VA would pay back to your service branch would be small, you might be better off paying that amount yourself and saving your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. You would know this up front before you request your TA.

So if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use Top-Up, it might not be as good of a deal as it is under the MGIB, but that is due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill not being paid at a set amount per month as is the MGIB.