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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.


My son is 19 and is entitled to Ch 35 under his father. Also for the state of NY he is also still entitled to child support until he turns 21; however, the father is claiming that since he is receiving the full-time amount of VA, he shouldn’t receive the child support. I say that the VA benefit is for school specifically especially when the benefits payout 30-45 days after school starts and in order to attend classes, tuition has to be paid up front. Therefore we usually take a supplemental loan to pay up front and then use the VA benefit to pay back the loan. Is the VA benefit supposed to be used as income to pay for food, shelter and misc. expenses that my son has in order to make it through the school year?

A: Well first of all, it is not for your son’s father to determine whether he should be paying child support or not. That should have been decided in court and he should be honoring the court’s decision. If he was ordered to pay child support (and he is not), then if I were you, I would be petitioning the court to make him pay it. If he has not been directed by a court to pay child support, then take him to court and get that mandated.

If your son’s father is still serving, the military takes a dim view of father’s not supporting their children and you could have his military wages garnished so the child support automatically comes out each month. If he is no longer in the military, then it is more difficult to hold him accountable although it is still possible (verses jail time).

Chapter 35 is not a lucrative GI Bill by any means, so even though your son is getting Chapter 35 benefits, he isn’t making enough to get by on GI Bill Chapter 35 payment. If I were you, I would go after his father and hold him accountable – paying child support should be the least he can do for his son.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: OK, I am attending college online. I have started on 27 Aug 2012. Now it’s 22 October2012. For what months will I be paid for, and how soon will I see the payment drop into my account?

A: It can take awhile to get your first GI Bill payment – up to 10 weeks. As of this writing you have been waiting about 8 weeks, so you should see some money soon. Fortunately, for the rest of the months in this semester, you should get your money monthly around the same time each month. However, next semester, the process starts all over again.

The good thing is when you do get your first payment, it should include the last few days of August and all of September and maybe October.

The VA should pay your school for your tuition and eligible fees up to the resident rate. If you are attending a public school, they’ll pay up to your tier percentage. Being you are attending online, your housing allowance will be locked in at $673.50 if you are a full-time student at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill level. Once each semester you should also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 times the number of credits you are taking and again at your tier percentage.

If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you would get $1,564 per month as a full-time student if you served for at least three years. If you are less than full-time, or served less than three years, then your monthly amount would be less. Also out of that monthly amount, you have to pay all your own education expenses including tuition, fees, books, etc.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I have been in ANG for 9 years now and have not used my GI Bill or Kicker. I’m not sure if I still have it or not, or if I’m under the old MGI Bill or Post 911 GI Bill. I want to go back and finish school. What should I do?

A: If you have spent all your time in the ANG, then you most likely have the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). However, because it has a shelf life of 10 years from your Notice of Eligibility, your MGIB-SR entitlement is soon coming to an end.

During your nine years, have you deployed for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan? If so, you may have some eligibility to the Post 9/11 GI Bill also. A 90-day qualifying period would get you to the 40% tier. Three years or more would put you at the top – 100%.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition and fees at your tier percentage directly to your school and if you are taking classes on campus, monthly you would get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school, the number of credits you take and your tier percentage.

If you are taking all online classes, then your housing allowance is fixed at $673.50 as a full-time student. Whether you attend online or on campus you would also get a book stipend of $41.67 per credit once per semester (until you reached your $1,000 annual limit).

If you still have your Kicker, you can use it with either GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has been approved to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. I have already submitted the application but the Certificate of Eligibility we received in the mail is in my husband’s name and not mine. Is this a problem?

A: Yes it is a problem. Most likely what happened is you or your husband submitted the wrong Certificate of Eligibility request form. If the serving member wants his/her Certificate of Eligibility, then s/he submits VA Form 22-1990. However, if the spouse wants a certificate, then s/he must submit VA Form 22-1990e. There is just one letter difference – the “e” on the end of the form number – but if the wrong form is submitted, the result can be as you described.

The easiest way to correct this would be to request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e this time from the eBenefits website. That should get you a certificate with your name on it.

Otherwise, when you go to enroll in school, the wrong name would be on the certificate and you would not be able to use your transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements. Evidently your husband did not transfer all his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you. Otherwise, a red flag should have went up at the VA when they went to process his certificate request and he would not have had any entitlements left to use.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello! My husband has been in the Air Force for the last four years and he has two left on his contract. He’s planning on re-enlisting. I was to go back to school but I have heard that I have to wait for another two years before I can go back. Is this true or can we start the process now so I can start next fall. Thank you for the help.

A: Yes it is true and you would have to wait two years if you want to use his Post 9/11 GI Bill to fund your education. The way the transfer of benefits option works is the serving member must meet three service requirements before s/he can get a transfer of benefits request approved:
• Have served for at least six years since September 10, 2001.
• Currently serving at the time of the transfer request.
• Have at least four years left on his/her enlistment at the time the transfer request is made.
If the serving member is within four years of being “retirement eligible” – having at least 20 years of service, then the additional enlistment time is reduced.

Once your husband is eligible to make a Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement transfer to you, he can go to the milConnect website and make his request. Once approved, and it can take 8 to 10 weeks for him to see the status change to “Transfer Approved”, then you have to go to the eBenefits website and request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. You need it when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My dad transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for me to attend school. In the letter it stated beginning August 17th 2012 I will receive benefits for 10 months and 0 days. Does that mean from the day stated to June 17 2013 I will receive benefits due to the fact that is ten months from 8/17 to 6/17, or do they not count it that way and my benefits will end at the end of May(counting whole months)?

A: No, you should get a full ten months out of your benefits. Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement use is calculated based on your rate of pursuit and the number of days when you should be in school.

For example, if your rate of pursuit is classified as full-time, then you would use one month of entitlement (30 days) for each month you are in school. However, if you started school say on August 17th, then you will only use up 13 days of entitlement in August instead of a full 30 days.

The same thing happens at the end of a semester. If your classes end on the 2nd of June for example, then you only would use up 2 days of entitlement for that month.

Remember we said earlier that entitlement use is also based on your rate of pursuit? If you are less than a full-time student, then entitlement use is calculated based on the number of credits you are taking verses what you school considers full-time.

For example, let’s say your school uses 12 credits as the minimum number of credits you can take and still be considered full-time and you are taking 9 credits. Then for each month you are in school, you would use up 9/12th of a month of entitlement or about 22.5 days per month in school.

And of course, you don’t use up any Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement when you are on semester breaks, nor do you get paid for that time away from classes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I will be using my GI Bill at Devry University and had a question about the housing allowance. Since Devry splits their semesters up into two terms, Term A and Term B, to be full time you have to take at least 6 credits per term adding up to 12 per semester. My question is if I take at least one on campus class in Term A and then all online in Term B will the on campus class in Term A allow me to receive full BAH during the entire semester? Thank you.

A: Most likely not, but it depends on how Devry reports their classroom schedule to the VA. The way the current rules are written, if you are a full-time student, with full-time being defined by your school, and you take at least one 1-credit class on campus (called a classroom class), then you qualify for the full monthly Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance authorized for the zip code of your school campus.

However, if you are full-time, but take all online classes, you would only get the online-only housing allowance rate of $673.50, which would end up being about half of what you would otherwise receive.

So if Devry classifies Term A and Term B as one semester, you should get the full housing allowance. However, if they classify each term separately, you would only get the full housing allowance for Term A and the online-only housing allowance for Term B.

I suggest you sit down with your school’s VA Certifying Official and ask how Devry classifies their classes and your concern with how much housing allowance you can expect to get each semester.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is about my status changing from full-time to half-time due to an injury sustained while participating in one of my classes. First of all, I’m a student majoring in Exercise Science so some of the classes I’m required to take require a significant amount of time outside of the classroom. I was enrolled in 14 credits for the Spring ‘12 semester and one of the courses that I was supposed to take near the end of the semester counted for 4 credits. In an accident that led to a meniscus tear in my right knee I became physically unable to fully participate in that 4-credit course, which involved outdoor recreational sports. Having to withdraw from this course brought me down to 10 credits, so this prompted me to contact my school certifying official and explained that my status change now puts me in debt to the VA. She didn’t elaborate exactly how, so naturally I would think that either the money for the course I withdrew from has to be paid back and/or the % difference of the BAH entitlement has to be paid back. I’ve been receiving treatment for my knee at a local VA hospital, so acquiring documentation to justify my withdrawal wouldn’t be an issue if I needed to do so. Does my student status change back to full-time in the Fall ‘12? I’m currently registered for 13 credits for the Fall ‘12. Will this incident impact being certified for my Fall ‘12 classes? Will I have to pay back 20% of the BAH I received thus far for my last semester? The real question is will I have to pay back anything even if the reason for not completing all of the courses I was registered for was due to injury?

A: First, the VA has a one-time/first-time drop policy where you can drop up to six credits with no questions asked, so you might be able to drop your four credits using that policy. If you don’t want to go that route, then explain the consequences of why you had to drop the four credits (because of an injury). The VA in turn would evaluate your reason and classify it as either due to mitigating or non-mitigating circumstances.

To me your reason would be non-mitigating meaning the reason you had to drop was out of your control (and it was). You didn’t know that you were going to get hurt and once you were, you could not physically finish the course, thus your reason for dropping it.

If the VA agrees that it is non-mitigating, then you most likely will not have to pay anything back or if you do, it would be just the additional amount you were paid between the time you reported it and when they paid you for still taking 14 credits.

However, it could go the other way too – mitigating – and then you might have to pay some money back, but I think your reasoning would stand strong.

If you do have to pay something back, either pay it or set up a payment schedule with the VA Debt Management Center, so that it won’t hold up your Fall semester Post 9/11 GI Bill payments.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve heard that some post-August 2009 career retirees have been able to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents. I thought we couldn’t do that. Did something change?

A: Yes it did and only recently did I stumble upon the change. As I read into it further, I found it isn’t consistent with all branches of service and some branches are not even participating in the program.

As you know, right after the Post 9/11 GI Bill was enacted on August 1, 2009, many servicmembers retired not knowing they had to transfer their New GI Bill benefits before they retired. That was a wrong that had not been righted before now and even today it is not fully corrected, but inroads are being made and it is a start.

So far only the Army and Air Force are working with retirees in an effort to determine if they knew about the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules before they retired or not. For right now, the Navy and Marines have decided not to act on any transfer of benefits requests at this time.

Soldiers retiring between August 1, 2009 and November 1, 2009 can request relief by submitting DD Form 149 – Application for Correction of Military Record to the Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA), 1901 South Bell Street, 2nd Floor, Arlington, VA 22202-4508.

Retired Airmen can submit the same form to the Board for Correction of Air Force Records, SAF/MRBR, 550-C Street West, Suite #40, Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4742, however, the Air Force is not using a fixed ending date as is the Army, just if you retired after August 1, 2009. In the form, explain in great detail how you were unfairly treated with regard to transferring your GI Bill benefits.

With the last figures I saw, both the Army and Air Force have approved about 1/3rd of the requests they have received on a case-by-case basis.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello I am about to enroll in college. I’m 35 yrs. old and I am just curious to see what my options are with my G.I. Bill? How much do I have and how to go about using it? I was in the Navy and got out in 2008 I believe. Please if you can let me know soon because I’m starting classes in the fall.

A: Veteran education benefits vary according to which GI Bill you have. Being you got out in 2008, you could have both the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the new Post 9/11 GI Bill (PGIB).

To have the MGIB, you would have had to sign up for it when you first enlisted. Do you remember having $100 per month for the first 12 months taken out of your pay through payroll deduction? If so, that is what it was for and you would have the MGIB. If you signed a declination, then most likely you don’t have it.

You would however, have the Post 9/11 GI Bill as that is free to servicemembers having served for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001. If you served for at least three years, you are 100% vested; serving for less than three years puts you between the 40% and 90% tier depending on your length of service.

Individually, each GI Bill provides up to 36 months of entitlement. However, if you have both GI Bills, the maximum number of combined months of entitlement is capped at 48 months.

Using the MGIB, you would get up to $1,564 per month and you are responsible to pay all your own education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, etc.

However, if you use the PGIB, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school (based on your tier percentage) and monthly you would get a housing allowance that averages across the United States at $1,300. Additionally, each semester, you would get up to $41.67 per credit in a book stipend. However, it does have a $1,000 per academic year cap, but that is usually enough to get it for two full semesters per year.

To start using either GI Bill, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would get your Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when you register for school as a GI Bill student.