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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Right now I am really thinking about going to Universal of Technical Institute (UTI) when I EAS from the Marine Corps. I have been trying to look up definite answers as far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the way it works with UTI. The course I want to do at UTI is around $32,000. Now what I want to know is that, am going to get just the $17,500 cap for a Non College Degree Program? Or if maybe the UTI in Sacremento has a Yellow Ribbon Program? And if it doesn’t, what can I do to pay the extra tuition and fees, since its $32,000, with the $17,500 cap which would leave with almost $15,000 left to pay out of pocket.

A: The good news is that Universal Technical Institute is a GI Bill-approved school with two campuses – one each in Sacramento and Rancho Cucamonga! The way it would work Dom, is your Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay up to $17,500 per year directly to your school for tuition and eligible fees. Being neither school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA at this time, the remaining unpaid tuition would be your responsibility.

There are various scholarships, grants and maybe even a work-study program at your school that may help you fund your part of your tuition. However, there are different types of scholarships that may either work for you or against you.

For example, if you get a scholarship that can only be applied toward your tuition, it will reduce the amount the VA will pay, because the VA is the last payer when it comes to paying tuition. That ends up being somewhat counterproductive.

There are other scholarships that are not dedicated to tuition, so the VA ends up paying the same amount as if you did not have those non-fenced scholarships; those are the better ones to try and get.

You could also send in a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Aid) form to see what you would qualify for in other financial aid. Finally, you might have to get a part-time job and work during non-school hours to make extra money.

As part of your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would also get a monthly housing allowance. For the Sacramento area, it is $1,728, plus you would also get a book stipend of $83 per month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My ex-husband is currently serving and is awaiting approval of his reenlistment. Our son was denied benefits because his father had not yet reenlisted as of October 2011. His current enlistment ends 10/01/2012. He has served over 10 years – since 06/08/2001. Why does he need to have proof of reenlistment to qualify for the GI Bill transferred benefits? My ex-husband is currently deployed so my son had to sit out this semester while this mess gets sorted out and we had to pay for the first semester out of pocket after the request for GI Bill benefits were denied. Please help! Thanks.

A: The short answer is because those are the rules. The long answer is there are three service requirements that must be met when transferring the Post 9/11 GI Bill to a dependent:
• Have served for at least six years after September 10, 2001.
• Currently serving.
• Agree to serve for another four years (unless eligible for retirement in less than four years – then a lesser amount of future time is required.)

It sounds like your ex-husband met the first two requirements – he has 10 years of service and is currently serving, but failed to have an enlistment of at least more four years in place at the time he tried to transfer his benefits to his son.

As far as the “why” he has to have that extension in place is because the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option is used as a retention tool. If a servicemember wants to transfer benefits to a dependent, s/he has to agree to do the additional time.

Once your ex-husband gets his extension in place, tries to transfer benefits again and it gets approved, your son has to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his Certificate of Eligibility. He will need that document when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was a Texas resident when he was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. He graduated from the USNA in 1986. He served on active duty from June of 1986 to June of 1991. He received an honorable discharge in 1991. Given those facts, it’s my understanding that he qualifies under the Hazelwood Act. We are Texas residents and our daughter is an undergraduate at a private university in Texas. She is considering going to medical school after she graduates. If she attends medical school at one of the medical schools that is part of the University of Texas System could she use her father’s Hazelwood hours to cover tuition? (Note: She will be under the age of 26 the entire time she is in medical school and her father has never used any of his Hazelwood hours).

A: Yes, it sounds like your husband does meet the Hazelwood Act requirements of:
• Being a Texas resident;
• Having been Texas resident at the time he entered the U.S. Armed Forces;
• Served at least 181 days of active military duty;
• Received an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions;
• Does not have any remaining usable GI Bill benefits;
• Not be in default on federal education loans or student loans made or guaranteed by the State of Texas.

So to start the transfer process, your husband will have to create the following packet of information:
1) Packet for the Transfer of Unused Hours to eligible child (TUHH)
2) Packet for Never Used exemption (HE-D) or Previous Recipients (HE-P)
3) Packet for a Child who has Received Transferred Hours (HE-T)
4) DD214 –Military discharge form
5) Birth Certificate or Tax return from previous year prior to enrollment

Just so we are clear, she is not limited to just the University of Texas school system – she can attend any of the Texas Public Institutions. Nor does she have to be under the age of 26 during the whole period she uses her Hazelwood Act benefits – just 25 or younger when she starts using her benefits.

Once your daughter is accepted into one of the Texas public universities or colleges, s/he can then fax the packet to VA Representative at the school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How is the 9/11 GI Bill benefit calculated when you attend 2 schools which have different types of semesters? I attend an online college as my primary college – they offer courses starting every month and lasting for 8-weeks each. Because there are a couple courses in my degree plan that I would have a difficult time taking in the online format, I’m taking those at a local community college (secondary college – NOT online) where they operate in more traditional, 16-week semesters. I’m currently taking a 4 credit course at the secondary school for their Fall semester. Inside this time I will be taking a 3 credit course at my primary school followed by another online course which will overlap the last month of my Fall community college semester and the first month of my Spring community college semester. How would my benefit be calculated in this scenario?

A: The two benefits that would be affected of course are your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance and book stipend as both are based on the number of credits you take. The VA figures both of the above allowances based on the number of credits you are taking on a particular day.

So if the courses you are taking today equal or exceed what your school uses for their full-time credit level, (and you are at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier), then you would get the full housing allowance allocated for the zip code of your school. However, in the case of staggered courses – courses with different start and stop dates – your housing allowance changes based on your credit load changing as courses start and stop.

For example let’s use your numbers. If I’m reading your question right, you are taking a traditional 4-credit 16-week course and a 3-credit 8-week online course followed by another 8-week 3-credit online course that will overlap the last month of the current semester and the first month of the next semester.

For explanation purposes, I’m assuming your traditional and first online course started at the beginning of the semester. So during the first 8 weeks (two months) of the semester, you would get paid housing allowance prorated for 7 credits.

During the third month, you would only be taking 4 credits, so you may not qualify for any housing allowance. If 4 credits is less than 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time, then you would not be authorized a housing allowance.

For the fourth and last month of the semester, you would be back up to 7 credits, so you should get around the same amount as you were getting each of the first two months. If you are just taking the second month of your 3-credit online course during the next semester, then you most likely would not get any housing allowance.

If you would add another online course or two to the one you would be taking in the new semester, you may get enough credits to warrant the online-only housing allowance up to $673.50 per month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I do not understand the calculations for the months and for the benefits. For Post 9/11 V.2.0, are the months remaining arranged just like the rate of pursuit tiers? For example, 10 units certified is listed as 80% rate of pursuit. Is the VA also deducting 80% of the months and days remaining, or 10/12=83% (with rounding)? Thank you.

A: Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement use calculations are made based on the rate of pursuit figured by taking the number of credits you are taking, times 30 days per month, divided by the number of credits considered full-time by the school.

So if you are taking the minimal number of credits the school uses as their full-time floor, you would use up one month of entitlement for each month of school. But if you are taking for example 10 credits, and your school considers 12 to be their full-time floor, then you would use up 25 days of entitlement for each month of school (30 days x 10 credits = 300 credit days/12 credits = 25 days).

However, unlike you noted in your questions, the VA adjusts how much entitlement you have left based on months and days and not a straight percentage. That is how you can end up with a certain number of months and days of entitlement left instead of just straight months.

Also note that because the monthly housing allowance is partially calculated based on the number of credits taken, and due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill 2.0 fix last year, your housing allowance would be proportionally less (based on the number of credits you take) if you take less than a full credit load. If you take less than 51% of the full-time credit number, you are not authorized any housing allowance at all.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I move out of state and change schools if I need to? I would still be working towards my same BSN degree.

A: Yes when using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you may:
• move to a different state and attend a new school.
• live in the same place, but change to a different school.

Under these two scenarios, you would have to send in VA Form 22-5495 – Request for Change of Program or Place of Training – from the e-Benefits website. It is important to let the VA know when you change schools as your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is based in part on the zip code of your school.

Not notifying the VA that you changed schools could get you into an overpayment situation if your new housing allowance rate ends up being lower than it was at your previous school. So to stay out of debt, notify the VA of your intention to change schools before you actually make the switch.

Of course you would also want to send in the same form if you change your major. Just as a side-note, keep in mind that your new BSN degree plan could vary from your old degree plan, so you may end up having to take some classes not listed on your old degree plan.

If the VA did not know you changed schools, they could end up deny paying for those additional classes, because those classes were not on the degree plan they were working off of. These are all good reasons why you should keep the VA always informed of your latest or upcoming changes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have one year remaining on my MGIB. I waited until now to start school. Would it be better to use the one year until exhaustion and then switch, or just switch to the Post 9/11 now?

A: I’ll have to give you my generic non-descript answer of “it depends”, because it does depend on a couple of factors:
• Your education goal.
• The shelf-life left on your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

You indicated in your question that you have one year of your MGIB left, so does that mean you only have a year of school left to get your four-year degree? Or did the three years you have already used not apply to your current degree plan?

If you only have a year left to your degree, then you might want to consider switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the higher pay rate. But, if you have more than one year left to your degree, then I would exhaust your MGIB first and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months of entitlement, thereby maximizing your GI Bill benefits.

The other issue that could prompt you to switch is how much time you have left until your last year of MGIB entitlement expires. The MGIB has a 10-year shelf life (delimitation date) from your date of discharge, so if you will reach your delimitation date before you would use up your last year of MGIB benefits, then you may want to switch to the New GI Bill to extend out your delimitation date by an additional five years.

So as you can see, there isn’t a definitive yes or no answer, but you do have a couple of options based on your scenario.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I attend college off of my step-fathers GI Bill? He has been active duty for the last 15 years now, however, I was still wondering if I have to chance to use his GI Bill. Do I still have to be a dependent in his household, or would I be able to leave the house, and go to another college in a different state? Please reply as soon as possible. Thank you!

A: You may be able to use your step-father’s GI Bill to go to school provided:
• he has legally adopted you and
• transfers at least some of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you and
• you are under the age of 26.

According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, before he can get a transfer request approved, you have to be listed in DEERS as a legal dependent of his, but not necessarily have to live under the same roof.

The second part is he has to want to transfer benefit to you. The benefits belong to him, so he has full control over who he transfers them to. And the third part is you have to be at least 18 but younger than 26 to use your benefits. You did not mention how old you are, so I don’t know if you fit in the age range or not.

As far as where you could go to school, you have a wide variety of schools you can attend – basically any GI Bill-approved school listed in the Weam’s School Search program.

If you attend school using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school. Monthly, you would get a housing allowance and once per semester a book stipend (up to the $1,000 yearly limit). While it would be nice to be “out on your own”, it is much cheaper to live at home if you can find a school that offers what you want.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My ex-husband was in the USMC from 1984 – June 2008. He served in Desert Storm and Iraq. He never put in an monies towards his GI Bill (The $100/month requirement for his first year of service). I heard things have changed and our daughter may be eligible for his GI benefits. Can you please let me know if this is true or what if anything she may be entitled to if he transfers his benefits to her? Thank you.

A: Your husband most likely is eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. His 36 months of education benefit at the 100% level are free to him just for his service of at least three years after September 10, 2001.

Under the New GI Bill, he can go to school and the VA would pay his tuition directly to his school. If he attends a public school, his tuition would be paid in full at the resident rate. If he chooses to attend private school, the VA would pay up to $17,500 per year.

Monthly, he can get a housing allowance that averages $1,300 across the U.S. It is calculated based on the zip code of his school and the number of credits he takes. Also each semester, he can get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit up to the $1,000 per year limit.

Unfortunately, the way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, he would have had to serve “on or after August 1, 2009” and still be serving to make a transfer of benefits to your daughter and get it approved. By that time, your ex-husband had been out for over a year. So while he has benefits he can use, he would not be able to transfer them to your daughter.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, what is the percentages per credit hour you would get for BAH?

A: Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your housing allowance (not BAH – that is something entirely different) is calculated based on the zip code of your school, the number of credits you take and paid at the pay grade of E-5 with dependents at your tier percentage.

So if you are taking a full credit load – full-time determined by your school – and you are at the 100% tier, then you would get the full housing allowance authorized for your school’s zip code. However, if you are taking let’s say 51% of the number of credits required to be a full-time student, or seven credits in this case, then you would get 7/12th of the full housing allowance. Anything less than 51% and you would not be authorized any housing allowance.

If you are taking all your classes online, then you fall under a different housing allowance rate – up to $673.50 for a full-time online-only student at the 100% tier. Of course if you are not carrying a full-time online load or not at the 100% tier, then your housing allowance would be prorated to a lesser amount.

The work-around is to take at least one classroom class per semester creditable to your degree plan on campus. This would get you the maximum housing allowance that you are authorized.