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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the Army National Guard in 2006 receiving the Montgomery GI Bill in my contract. I then went to Active Duty Army in 2008. Do I receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a result when I ETS in 2014? If not can I transfer into the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: What confuses many people is there are two Montgomery GI Bills – one for active duty personnel – the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD), the other one for the Reserves and National Guard – the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR).

And they are very different from each other. One of the unique properties of the MGIB-SR is that expires upon discharge from the Selected Reserve or after ten years of service if you would have stayed in the Reserves that long. So that GI Bill is gone.

However, because you have over three years of service in one of the active duty components, you are most likely eligible for 36 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% tier level. I say most likely, because your first enlistment in the Army either had to or will have to (if you are still on your first enlistment) end in an honorable discharge to maintain your eligibility. If you get anything less than a fully honorable, you still have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but you would not be able to use your education benefit.

Just so you know, you don’t have to wait until you get out to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill. As a matter-of-fact, I would look into using Tuition Assistance (TA) and Tuition Top-Up right now while you are still on active duty.

Those two programs are a good way to maximize your GI Bill benefit as TA pays most of the bill. What it doesn’t pay is covered by Top-Up and taken out of your existing GI Bill unused benefits, but because TA is paying the lion’s share, the cost to you is minimal.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am going through a divorce. I have my spouse & step-daughter, along with myself and son all on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. No one has used this benefit since I retired April 2010. I was told by Law I can drop them both off this benefit and ensure my son is able to utilize it. Is this true and if so how do I start the process.

A: It is true. As the sponsor holding the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have complete control over who gets benefits along with maintaining complete control to revoke those benefits even after you have retired. So yes, you can “take back” the benefits you gave to your spouse and step-daughter. Once that action is complete and you have the benefits back, then you could reallocate the revoked benefits to your son.

As you know, you have 36 months of benefits. If you plan on using some of the benefits yourself, be sure to keep back what you need.

To revoke benefits, you will have to send the VA a letter describing what you want to do and the pertinent information they need, such as names, SSNs and the number of months you are requesting to be withdrawn from each member. Then once that action is complete, send another letter transferring benefits to your son. They will need the same approximate information on him also.

You could request both actions in one letter, but sometimes that confuses the issue. Two separate requests adds clarification to the process unless you are in a bind for time; in that case request both actions in the same request.

There really isn’t any set form or format to request revocation and reallocation of benefits. Just make sure you include the information they need to action your request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I signed up for the SLRP, and served 3 years on active duty. My loans have been paid off by the SLRP. I am currently on a 6-year contract with the Army Reserves. I want to go to school. I know I waived my rights to the Montgomery GI Bill, but am I still eligible for the Post 9/11 or can I at least use the Reserves GI Bill?

A: While you were on active duty and under SLRP, you were not building eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why? Because you can’t get SLRP and the GI Bill for the same three-year period.

Being you enlisted into the Reserves for six years, you should be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR). The trick to the MGIB-SR is you have to use it within ten years of your NOBE (Notice of Benefits Eligibility) date or you lose it. Also, it expires on the date of your discharge should you get out sooner than 10 years of Reserve service.

While it is an education option, the MGIB-SR doesn’t pay much in contrast to the other GI Bills. Right now, you would get $356 per month to go to school full-time. Of course, you would also get your drill pay, Federal Tuition Assistance and possibly some state benefits as a Reserve member going to school depending on where you live. And you would have to pay all your education expenses.

As far as being eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? No, you would not be right now, however, with a deployment on a Title 10 Order in support of a contingency operation, you could be. A typical one-year tour would put you at the 60% tier level. Three years of deployment would get you to the 100% tier. With Iraq over and Afghanistan winding down, deployment tours are going to be harder to get in the future, but you may still be able to get on one or two.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Mr. Kness, I am retired Navy Missile Technician. I retired honorably September 30, 2009 after completing 20 years of service as a submariner. My question is: how do I go about getting a waiver or petitioning so that I may pass on my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my stepson. I was married to his mother in 2007. I was unaware of the stipulation that I needed to do the transfer prior to my retirement. I was never informed of this requirement during my transfer into retirement. This information was not presented during my Transfer Assistance Program (TAP). I have no doubt that I am not the only one in this position. I’m also sure others were aware of this requirement by what means I couldn’t tell you. I fully intended to use my right to transfer this benefit to my stepson. I didn’t find out about the requirement of having to be active duty to transfer this right until months after my retirement. Any assistance that you can provide me would be much appreciated. If there is a form/waiver, are there any key phrases/words that I can use to better my chances? Thank you once again.

A: You are right, there was a lot of confusion on the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefit rules right after the program was implemented on August 1, 2009. And while you may have had time to make a transfer request if you would have known about it during a TAP presentation, knowing about it at out-processing would not have done you any good as it would have been too late to make a transfer request at that time.

The Army and Air Force have addressed this problem and they have approved about 41% of the requests submitted, however, the Navy and Marine Corps have refused to even look at submitted requests up to this point. However, don’t let that stop you from submitting the required paperwork as they may have to address it at some point in the future.

To start your appeal request, complete and submit DD 149 to the Navy Board for Correction of Military Records. The address is:
Board for Correction of Naval Records
701 S. Courthouse Road
Building 12, Suite 1001
Arlington, VA 22204-2490.

Your job is to convince the Board that you were not informed of the need to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while you were still serving. How well that information is stated seems to be at least one of the deciding factors if an soldier or airman’s request gets approved or not.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. My husband has been in the Army for 3 years now, he’s wanting to transfer his GI Bill to me so I can finish school. Would that be possible and if so, how do we start?

A: Right now that would not be possible and here is why. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has two sets of rules as far as using its benefits. For the servicemember, s/he has to serve for at least three years after September 10, 2001. At that point the servicemember is fully vested at the 100% tier and can use the benefits.

However, to transfer benefits to a spouse or dependent, the servicemember must have served for at least six years, be currently serving at the time of the transfer request, and have at least four years left on his/her enlistment. So your husband is halfway to his six-year requirement.

Once he has the time in, he can make a transfer request by going to the milConnect website and entering into your record how many months he wishes to transfer to you. Once approved, you can go to the eBenefits website and request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e.

If you would like to start school now, and if your husband is an E-5 or less, a W1 or W2 or an O1 or O2, you could use the MyCAA program to work on:
• an associate’s degree;
• licensure or;
• certification program.

You can get up to $4,000 and have up to three years to finish your program. By that time, your husband would then be eligible to make a transfer request to you so you could continue your schooling.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Mr Kness, I am a member of the USMC reserve and have been for 20 years. I was enrolled in the MGIB-SR in the 90’s and I used some of the benefit, but I don’t believe I used all of it. Since 2004 I have been deployed 3 times and am currently on the 3rd one now. When complete I will have 30 months of active duty time collective. I was planning on retiring after this deployment but if I am eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill I would like to transfer it to my 2 children. On my initial research it seems I am eligible and I am clear on if I do this I will need 3 more years on contract from the time of transfer. Now for the questions: 1. Will I be eligible and if so for what % of benefits? And if I can transfer theses benefits to my children say 50/50 of whatever benefits I am eligible for is this correct? 2. Will I need to transfer from MGIB-SR to Post 9/11 GI BILL? 3. How shall I proceed? I have read everything I can on this but answers to these question and what information I can gain will determine my path for the near future. Thank you for your time.

A: With 30 months of deployment time, that would put you at the 90% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier, meaning you would get 90% of your tuition paid by the VA directly to your school and you would receive 90% of both the housing allowance and book stipend.

Because you used some of your GI Bill benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR), you would not be able to get the full 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits – you would be able to get the remainder of your unused 36 months though.

Being you are already “retirement eligible” having served for at least 20 years, you should not have to extend for any additional time, however, you will have to make sure you transfer your remaining benefits to your children while you are still serving in the USMC Reserve. Once you are out and retired, it would be too late to make a transfer request.

To find out how many months of benefits you have left, you can call the VA at 888-442-4551 or submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.

If you want to make a transfer request, go to the milConnect website. Enter into each child’s record the number of months you wish to transfer. Once the request is approved, then each child would have to request his/her Certificate of Eligibility from the eBenefits website by submitting VA Form 22-1990e a couple of months before each is ready to start using his/her transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I been approved for assistance under VRAP. Funding is good for 12 months towards an associate’s degree or certification of training from a community college or technical school. I am seeking an associate’s degree in Internet Marketing, but so far I run into 2 problems. 1. They do not honor VRAP. 2. They tend to be scam sites that take every nickel of Government Funding they can, plus sign you up for student loans. It has been a real burden on finding a good school. I need help finding the right school. I need recommendations.

A: First, Internet Marketing per se is not one of the careers listed in the Department of Labor’s high demand list of occupations, however, Sales and Related Workers, and All Other and Sales Representatives Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products are listed. So be sure you get approval from the VA that your selected course will be covered under VRAP.

I ran into one situation already where a student wanted to take a Commercial Truck Driving Course under VRAP, but because the school had it listed as a Transportation Driver Course, the VA would not approve it. So it can come down to how your school lists their course and if it matches up to anything on the high demand list of occupations.

With that said, one of the best tools for finding schools that teach courses on the occupation list is to use the College Navigator website. If you do get approved for Internet marketing, click on the Browse Program button. Click on marketing and that will bring up four options of which one is Internet Marketing. Select the rest of your options on the left side of your screen and click the Show Results button. That will produce a list of currently approved schools that accept the VRAP GI Bill funding.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently an active duty SSG and I get BAH. Will I get a separate BAH when I activate my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits?

A: It depends on if you are talking about using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while you are still on active duty or not. If you are still on active duty at the time, no, you would not receive an additional housing allowance payment on top of your BAH.

However, if you attend a public school, your tuition would be paid in full at the undergraduate resident rate. If you choose to attend a private school, then the VA would pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition. Whether you attend public or private, you would also get the book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credits (up to the $1,000 yearly cap).

If you plan on using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits once you are out of the military, then yes you would get the housing allowance. The amount you would get is dependent on two things: the number of credits you are taking verses the number of credits your school considers to be full-time and the zip code of your school.

Being you are still on active duty, I would consider using Tuition Assistance (TA) and Tuition Top-Up if I were you. Both are great programs to maximize your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as TA pays most of the bill. What TA doesn’t pay then comes out of your GI Bill benefits under Top-Up.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I move to the Philippines to finish college? Would I be able to use my GI Bill Montgomery/Post 9/11? Will I be eligible for housing allowance if I’m going full-time? I was born in America.

A: If you are eligible for both the Montgomery GI Bill(MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill, then it is immaterial where you were born. To answer your first question, yes you could go to school in the Philippines. Just be sure the school you choose is VA approved.

As a foreign student going to school full-time under the MGIB, you would get the same monthly amount as if you attended school here in the States – currently up to $1,564 if you served three years or more.

However, if you would use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would fall under the foreign student rate. The VA would pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition/eligible fees directly to your school. You would get the foreign housing allowance up to $1,368 per month as a full-time student. You would also get the book stipend each semester (up to the $1,000 per year maximum). It is calculated based on $41.67 per credit.

I did want to point out the two options you have to use your GI Bills. Under one option, you could use up your 36 months of MGIB benefits, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits. Or under option two, you could switch from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away and use your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI bill benefits, but you would not get the additional 12 months. So it really comes down to your educational goal – how many months of benefits you need.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Should I use DEA, Post 9/11 GI Bill, or both? My first husband died on active duty in 2004 making me eligible for Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA). I remarried an active-duty soldier (suspending my eligibility for DEA) in 2006. I am now divorcing and my soon to be ex-husband may transfer all 36 months of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to me. After I am divorced I will regain eligibility for DEA. So my questions are: 1. Can I use DEA at the same time? 2. Can I use DEA in part or in full after using the GI Bill? Some sources say only a certain number of benefits may be used in total. But these two programs are not administered by the same agency, correct? So perhaps this does not apply. So, if I use the GI bill in full, how much if any of the DEA benefit can I use afterwards? 3. If I can’t use the DEA after or concurrently with the GI bill should I just use my DEA and not take the GI Bill transfer at all? Or is the GI Bill benefit so superior that I should use this benefit if at all possible? 4. Do I have to wait until my ex-husband is no longer on active duty to be eligible for the housing allowance?

A: All great questions and I will answer them in the order asked. No you can’t use two GI Bills at the same time. Under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA) you would be authorized up to 44 months of benefits along with an additional 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, however with the Rule of 48 if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of combined months of benefits is capped at 48 months.

To answer question two, yes, but we have to define what you mean by in full or in part. Yes you can use DEA in full after you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and while your would get the full DEA payment each month, it would be only for the number of months it would take you to get to 48 after using up 36 Post 9/11 GI Bill months.

Question 3 – If you had to choose which one to use, I would recommend the Post 9/11 GI Bill and here is why. Currently, the DEA pays $987 per month to go to school full-time. Out of that amount, you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books, etc. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school, and you would get a monthly housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. On average, a full-time student gets about $1,300 per month.

Plus you would get a book stipend once each semester (up to the $1,000 yearly limit) of $41.67 per credit which for a 12-credit semester is another $500. If you do the math, you can see how the Post 9/11 GI Bill is more lucrative.

The answer to question 4 is no, you would not have to wait until your ex-husband is out of the military to collect Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance. Once the divorce is final, send a copy of your divorce decree to the VA. That should trigger your housing allowance if you are (or will be) using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.