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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I transferred my Post 9/11 GI Bill to two of my kids and now want to split it with my third child…..I cannot figure out how to get back on there to do this…can you help me out?

A: How you do it depends on if you are still serving or not. If you are, then all you have to do is go to the milConnect website, Sign In (or Sign Up if you have not been at this website before) and click on the TEB Quick Link. Once in, open up the record(s) of the kid(s) that you want to take benefits away. Enter into their records the number of months of unused benefits that you would like to leave each of them with. Then open up the record of the kid you want to give benefits to and enter into his/her record the number of months you would like to transfer to him/her.

If the system won’t let you enter a number in your latest kid’s record, then you may have to wait until the months of benefits you took away show up as your unused benefits. Once that happens, then try to make the transfer again.

If you are already out, however, the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules are different. You cannot transfer benefits to a kid not already having received benefits from you or your wife while you were serving. So if the third kid never had received benefits before, you can’t transfer benefits to them now (if you are not currently serving). That can make a difference in your decision to pull benefits from your other two kids.

If they are not using their benefits or if the benefits are in danger of expiring due to the kids approaching age 26, then you can pull the benefits back. If you are already out, the method in which you do this is different as you have to do it by submitting a letter to the VA.

Be sure to give them all the information, such as the name, SSN and then number of months you want to pull from each one along with your information so they know where to place the revoked months.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I had Vietnam Era GI Bill benefits which I did not completely use. I was called to active duty in Jan 2001 through Aug 2008. Will my Vietnam Era GI Bill benefits carry over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: Most likely you would get the same number of months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you had left under your old GI Bill. However, you might as well use what you have left and take advantage of the higher Post 9/11 GI Bill pay rate.

Under the New GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school. With over seven years of eligibility, they would pay 100% of the resident undergraduate rate at a public school. Should you decide to attend a private school, they would pay up to $18,077.50 per year. At either type school, you would get the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and book stipend.

The MHA is calculated based on the number of credits you take and the zip code of your school; you have to take at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time to qualify for the minimum MHA.

The book stipend is figured on a basis of $41.67 per credit if you are in a degree-producing program or $83 per month if attending a vocational or technical school.

Also, the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a 15-year delimitation date, so your benefits would be good out until 2023.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I get out in August. Since I won’t be able to register in time at the university of my choice, I plan on taking a full semester of classes towards my degree at the local technical college, only for one semester to give myself more time to apply for the university. Will this interfere with my housing stipend? When transferring or in any other way?

A: First, make sure your local technical school is VA-approved. Otherwise, your GI Bill most likely would not pay for your school. Yes, make sure your technical school classes apply towards your degree. Before enrolling at your technical school, take the courses you want to take at the technical school to your university and ask which classes would transfer. Then only take those classes that apply towards your degree and ones your university would accept.

If you end up taking classes that don’t apply to your degree, then the VA would not pay for those classes. If you have classes that don’t apply or transfer, then you risk not having enough Post 9/11 GI Bill months of benefits that you need to complete your degree. So with a little prior planning upfront, you can take the right classes that will benefit you the most and make the best use of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

When you are ready to enroll in technical school make sure you have your Certificate of Eligibility. You can either get it by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website or see your VA Certifying Official at your school. That person can certify you on the spot with your certificate following up later.

The only affect transferring schools could have on your housing allowance would be if your zip code of your university is different than your technical school or the number of credits per semester that you would be taking are different. School zip code and credits are what determine how much you get monthly for your housing allowance. You would also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit per semester (up to the $1,000 per year annual limit).

When you get ready to transfer, be sure and send in VA Form 22-1995 (Request for Change of Program or Place of Training also from the eBenefits website) so the VA knows you are going from one school to the next.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I plan on taking 2 certificate classes each five quarters in length. The total cost $15,295. I also want to attend a Maritime welding school 15 weeks cost $19,257. The total cost is $34,553, is it possible that my 9-11 G.I Bill will pay the total cost?

A: With a quarter being about 10 weeks in length, your 2 certificate classes would use up close to 25 of your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits leaving you with about 11 week left – not enough to complete your 15-week welding course. That calculation is assuming your certificate courses are considered full-time. If they are not, then you would end up using less than 25 weeks and you may indeed have enough left to complete your Maritime welding course.

Determining if your certificate courses are full-time or not requires knowing what your school uses to measure full-time status – something I can’t do from the information in your question, but information you can obtain by asking them.

The other thing to watch out for is to make sure your school(s) is (are) VA-approved. Otherwise, your GI Bill wouldn’t pay for your courses. You can use the Weam’s School Search website to check out your school.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the cost of your courses is really irrelevant because that GI Bill does not have a maximum amount as does the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD). Under the MGIB-AD, the most you could get out of it would be $56,304 ($1,564 per month for 36 months).

If you attend a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 100% of your resident undergraduate tuition directly to your school. Go to a private school, they would pay up to $18,077.50 per year in tuition costs. Public or private, you would still get the housing allowance and a book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good morning Sgt. Maj. My name is Nicholas and I have a tough situation on my hands. I am currently still on active duty, but only have 45 days left of active duty. My parents are originally from Kentucky but live in Oklahoma due to my father being stationed there before he retired from the Air Force. My family is moving back to Kentucky to take care of my grandparents as they are ill and unable to do so themselves and I am going with them. Is there any way I can establish residency in Kentucky so that I can pay in-state tuition for school? And if so, would you please explain to me what all I have to do to accomplish this and start school as soon as I can. I have served 2 tours in Afghanistan, but I’m unsure if that will permit me any waivers or benefits Thank you.

A: Because you are still on active duty, your two tours in Afghanistan won’t either hurt or help you as you would already have 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As far as residency, most states require that you live in them for at least one year before you can claim residency, however, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t go to school and have to pay all of the difference between resident and non-resident tuition.

In the Post 9/11 GI Bill there is a feature called the Yellow Ribbon Program and one of its uses is to help pay for out-state tuition. The key to using it is to choose a school that has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA.

Here is how it works. If you attend a public school, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to the resident undergraduate tuition. The difference between the resident and non-resident is where the Yellow Ribbon Program comes in. Under the agreement with the VA, your school can pay up to 50% of the difference left between the two tuition’s. The VA will pay an equal amount.

So, in theory, the whole difference could be wiped out and it wouldn’t cost you anything. However, your school may have committed to a lesser percentage that 50%. In that case you would have some difference left that you would have to pay out-of-pocket. The trick is to choose a Yellow Ribbon School that has a high degree of support; you can find all that information in the Yellow Ribbon list.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

If you think you might be one of the 4,000 E-6 through E-9 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) identified by the FY13 Qualitative Service Program (QSP) Board to be involuntarily separated, your ability to transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your dependents or spouse are numbered…9 days and counting.

In a new Army ALARACT message dated 7 January 2013, it states that soldiers on the Board results list “…will no longer be eligible to transfer their Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill) benefits to their dependents if they chose not to do so PRIOR to 31 Jan 13.”, which is when the Board will post its results. The bottom line is once the results post on 31 January 2013 you will not be able to transfer Chapter 33 benefits period after that date.

For Soldiers who have been recommended for non-retention by the QSP (and you should know who you are if you were properly counseled at the time your Commander recommended you for non-retention), the required future service requirement of four additional years of service will be waived.

If you suspect that you may show up on the list, and you are undecided on how you want to divide up your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, I recommend that you transfer at least one month each to your spouse and each dependent. With each recipient getting at least one month of GI Bill benefits while you are still serving, you retain the right to revoke and reallocated benefits as needed once you are out. However, if your spouse or dependents were not benefit recipients while you were in, you cannot make an initial transfer request to them after you are out.

Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option is a benefit and not an entitlement, it is one it is one of the first things lost under the QSP. The QSP was formed last year to help leadership pare down the force by giving Commanders a tool to evaluate their soldiers, and based on the evaluation, recommend involuntary separation for Soldiers they identify as non-retainable or not eligible for reenlistment.

We did have an indication of changes in the works back in March 2012, when the Army leadership released a memo in which it said “Tough decisions are ahead. Some fully qualified Soldiers will be denied reenlistment….Commanders must carefully assess their Soldiers and ensure only our best Soldiers are retained to meet the needs of our Army.” It looks like at least one of those “tough decisions” has come to fruition.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My daughter is in the Texas National Guard and she would like to start school. She has been in since 2010 and would like to go to Paul Mitchell Beauty School. Will she be able to use her GI Bill or her Hazelwood money for this?

A: If you daughter signed up for six-years when she first enlisted, then she should have 36 months of benefits she could use under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR).

Sometimes these types of school can be an issue as many of them are not VA-approved. I just looked at the Paul Mitchell School on the Weam’s School Search website and they are approved in Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and Houston. So she is good-to-go from that standpoint.

Just so she knows, the MGIB-SR currently pays $356 per month to go to school and she would have to pay all her own expenses – tuition, fees, books, etc. If her program leads up to a certificate (verses a license), then she could also get some funding under the Tuition Assistance program.

She would not be able to use her Hazelwood Act benefits as those benefits must be used by those in a veteran status and not by those still serving. Also, if she has deployed for at least 90 days in a Title 10 status in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, she could also have some eligibility under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The New GI Bill pays significantly better than the MGIB-SR. Under it, her tuition would be paid (up to her percentage of eligibility) and she would also get the monthly housing allowance and a book stipend. If she does have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, she would have to give up her MGIB-SR (which would be a good trade) to switch to use her Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Mr. Kness. I have been in the USAR since 1996, Rank E-7, retirement date is 2016. I MOB’d for 9 months in 2003 out of Ft Stewart GA. I MOB’d 2 times to Kuwait (2008 and 2011). I have two daughters ages 23 and 27. Both are married. One lives in Georgia the other Florida. Question: Do I qualify or am I eligible to still transfer my GI BILL to either one of my daughters? Thank you Sergeant Major.

A: As a USAR servicemember, you normally would only have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) at best. However, because you have mobilized three different times after September 10, 2001, you have some eligibility under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Assuming your deployments to Kuwait were each one year in duration, when added to your other 9-month mobilization, you would have a total of 33 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible time. Thirty-three months puts you at the 90% tier.

When it comes to transferring benefits, you have an edge over your active duty brethren; they can’t transfer benefits unless they are at the 100% tier. Assuming you have not used any of your MGIB-SR months, you would have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at 90% coverage that you could transfer to a spouse or one of your daughters. Your 27-year old would not be a viable GI Bill benefit recipient due to her being over age 26 – the maximum allowance age in which to use Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

However, your 23-year old certainly could receive and still have time to use two academic years’ worth of benefits (18 months). With 18 months still left, you could either transfer those to your spouse or choose to use them yourself. No use letting them go to waste!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am simply beside myself. For the past 2 years my son has been attending the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Environmental Engineering student at the rate of $50,000 a year out of my pocket, cash. My son’s father is a retired U.S. Army Veteran with a retirement date of 7/31/2009. During the last 6 months of his active duty he has NEVER fully informed of the proper way to prepare to transfer all the unused educational benefits he earned to our son. From what I understand, he should have put the transfer of benefits in while he was on active duty, plus, he should have stayed on active duty an additional 2 days for a retirement date after 8/2/2009, correct? This is a no-brainer! Had we been armed with the right information these easy tasks would have been done. Our family deserves these benefits and we should not be penalized because we were ill-informed of a brand spanking new program. Aside from one form and 24 hours the benefits are still earned. Please, could you give us some guidance from here on how to appeal this or where we can go from here? From what I have read online we are not alone. There are several families I have read who were also not informed of the proper ways to transfer these benefits prior to retirement. Thanks!

A: I’m not sure how you are spending $50,000 per year for your son to go to school at CU-Boulder when their website is showing $23,386 including resident tuition, room and board, and books, unless you meant $50,000 for the two years combined; that I can see. If your $50,000 per year figure is accurate however, something is terribly wrong, as a student paying out-state tuition is only about $33,000 per year.

Anyway, on to your question; I’m not denying that your family deserves these Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and I agree that you should not be penalized because you were ill-informed of a program, but if it is any consolation, thousands of other veterans and their families were also ill-informed and are in the same situation.

And you are right – aside from one form and 24 hours, your husband still earned his GI Bill benefits.

However, early in the program, there were lots of unanswered questions and mistakes were made as far as advising veterans how either retired right before or after the August 1st date.

For Army veterans retiring on or after August 1st, there is a process to appeal where they can apply to the Army Discharge Review Board using DD Form 293. In about 41% of the cases, the reviews have been approved – the Board agreed with the veteran that s/he had not been properly informed about making a transfer request while still on active duty.

Unfortunately, there is not a process for those retiring before August 1, 2009. While a couple of attempts have been made in the past to correct this in the form of Congressional Bills, none have passed or even come up to a vote and have subsequently have died without action.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: my husband was in the IA National Guard from 1999-2005 with a 1-year deployment to Afghanistan (2004-2005). He used some of the MGIB while still in. He is now back in school and was denied MGIB benefits, can you explain why?

A: The first thing you have to know is that there are two “MGIB”s. It is unfortunate that both share the same name (because they have some radical differences) as it causes all kinds of confusion as it has evidently done due to your question.

When the active duty service member signs up for the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD), s/he can get up to 36 months of benefits that the service member can use while either still on active duty or up to 10 years from his/her date of discharge.

The Reserve or National Guard member automatically gets the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) by enlisting in a Reserve Component for six years. And while they also get up to 36 months of GI Bill benefits, the benefits automatically expire upon discharge or with 10 years of service.

So in your husband’s case, because he was in for less than 10 years, his “MGIB” benefits expired in 2005 when he got out. However, all may not be lost.

Due to his one-year deployment to Afghanistan, he would qualify for some benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. A twelve-month deployment on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation (such as Afghanistan) would get him to the 60% tier of the New GI Bill. As far as the number of months he would receive, it would be whatever months he had left from his MGIB-SR even though that GI Bill has expired.

So what he needs to do is to submit a new VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website, but this time check block 9A in Part II. Also in Part II, he should check block 9f and the Chapter 1606 box.