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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is transferring his 9/11 GI bill to me for my school and I filled out the application once he added my name to transfer his benefits to me but I was denied because they told me that he never put me down for transferring the money to me, which I did see him choose my name and checked the box that he did meet all requirements to do so and they said either it is pending still and hasn’t cleared or it didn’t go through. Well he went back in and clicked my name and did what they told him to do yesterday and I was wondering how long does it take for to approve so that I can refile the 9/11 GI Application? I don’t want to refile and then be denied again cause it didn’t show for me to receive the money. I had to do a Leave of Absence for school until I get this figure out.

A: What your husband should have done is once he got to the TEB area from the milConnect website, was locate your record and entered in the number of months he wished to transfer to you. Once he pressed the SUBMIT button, it should have read “Transfer Pending” in the Status Block.

Periodically, he would have needed to go back into that website and look for a status change to “Transfer Approved”. It could take 8 to 10 weeks before a transfer request is approved.

Once he makes a transfer request and it is approved, then you can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when registering as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

The first time he did it, either it did not take or his request had not been approved yet when you requested your Certificate of Eligibility. Also, just so you know, what he is transferring is not money, but months of entitlement.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school. Monthly, you get a housing allowance that averages $1,300 across the United States. Yours may be more or less depending on if you attend school full-time or not and the zip code of your school. Also once per semester you would get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit. There is a $1,000 per year cap on the book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Did I really have to pay a total of $5,400 for the GI Bill? Enlisted in Mar 85; separated Jul 90. Paid by allotment a total of $2,700 for VEAP. Used every cent by Dec 92 when I graduated college. Graduated OTS Jul 93. Was told in Oct 01 that I could buy into new GI Bill, but because VEAP account had $0 bal, I would have to pay $2,700 AGAIN. And I did. So now, I’ve paid total of $5,400 for the GI Bill. Retired Feb 08, so now can’t pass benefits to my kids. Besides converting to Post 9-11 Bill, do I have any recourse?

A: According to the VEAP/Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) rules, what you had to pay is correct. If you would not have used up your VEAP money, then you could have avoided making the second $2,700 payment when you converted to the MGIB. Unfortunately, you only ended up getting an additional 12 months of benefits for your second $2,700.

Under the Rule of 48, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of combined months of benefits that you can get are 48 months. I’m assuming you used up 36 months getting your degree in 1993.

But you do have 12 months of benefits that you can use either under the MGIB or Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you choose to use the MGIB, then you could get up to $1,564 per month to go to school and you have to pay all your own education expenses including tuition.

If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with your 12 months of benefits intact, you would get some of your MGIB contribution back once you finished using your Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Under that GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and monthly you would get a housing allowance. Once per semester you would also get a book stipend, however, you would be limited to the $1,000 academic yearly cap.

So about the only recourse I see would be to use your remaining 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and get some of your MGIB contribution back.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Does the Hazlewood Act give a housing allowance? And if yes, and I choose the Post 9/11 GI Bill, do I get both housing allowances? Or if I choose the MGIB would I receive both payments?

A: No, the Hazelwood Act does not pay a housing allowance. Under it, you can get up to 150 hours of tuition forgiveness, but that is it.

If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can’t use it in conjunction with the same classes that are paid for by the Hazelwood Act. Besides, if you did, all you would get from your Post 9/11 GI Bill would be your monthly housing allowance and book stipend. A better way to use both benefits would be to use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits first and then use your Hazelwood Act hours towards an advanced degree as that tuition is usually much higher than it is for an undergraduate degree. Or transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while you are still serving and then use your Hazelwood Act benefits for yourself. Those are just a couple suggestions on how to use both benefits.

However, if you use the Montgomery GI Bill, you can get your tuition paid under the Hazelwood Act and still get your monthly MGIB payment, which for a full-time student having served for at least three years, would be $1,564 per month starting October 1st.

Using the two programs together is a great way to maximize your MGIB benefits as normally if you used your MGIB alone, you have to pay for your tuition out of your monthly GI Bill benefit. Combining benefits gives you extra money in your pocket.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the third year of a six-year active duty AF enlistment. I signed up for the MGIB, meaning they took the $1,200 out of my paycheck for it. Before that, I blindly signed for the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP). The clause with CLRP is “I have to serve a second active duty term to be eligible for the MGIB”. I have not used any of the government’s money to pay back my student loans. Is there a waiver that I can have filled out so that I will be eligible for the MGIB at the end of this enlistment? Or at least get my $1,200 back?

A: Not to worry, your “second active duty term” is most likely your second three years of your six-year enlistment. When you signed up for the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP), you incurred a three-year obligation. During those three years when you are “paying back” your CLRP obligation, you were not acquiring any GI Bill eligibility because you can’t get both CLRP and the GI Bill for the same three-year period.

So your second three year period of your six-year enlistment would establish full GI Bill eligibility for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). By full eligibility, I mean 36 months of entitlement. However, you would also be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill just from your last three years of service at no charge to you.

There are two ways you can use your GI Bills. One, you can use up your 36 months of MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of entitlement, or two, you can switch right away to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

By switching right away you won’t get the additional 12 months of time, but you would get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back once you have used up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement. It would come as part of your last housing allowance payment.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 12 months left on my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit and I am a disabled veteran. Can I use the Yellow Ribbon Program to help me get my master’s degree at a participating school along with my GI Bill? I found one, Devry in Bellevue WA. Would I have to pay for the 2nd year with graduate loans to finish the program (it’s a 2 yr) as my GI Bill has only 12 months left or can I use the Yellow Ribbon Program for the 2nd year?

A: The Yellow Ribbon Program is not a separate GI Bill or program you can use by itself. It is a feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so you have to use it in conjunction with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, therefore you would not be able to use it for your second year of school as you had suggested.

Depending on how your program at Devry is set up, you might not have to pay for all of your second year. Many schools call their programs two-year programs, but in reality they are two 9-month sessions. If that is so, then you would have three months left on your GI Bill after your first “year” in their program. Then you would only have to fund 6 months of the second “year”. If Devry’s program is a full two years, then yes, you would have to fund your second year in full as you would have exhausted your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement after the first year.

As an alternative to taking out loan, look into applying for scholarships and grants as they don’t have to be paid back. If you do not get enough to fully fund your second year, then you can use student loans as a final source of financial aid. Going this route, you would not have as much debt hanging over your head right away.

Because the Post 9/11 GI Bill only pays up to the resident rate, if you end up having to pay out-state tuition, that is where the Yellow Ribbon Program could help you. Your school could pay up to half the difference between what they charge and what the VA pays. The VA would then pay an equal amount potentially reducing what is left down to zero.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good afternoon Sir, I would like to better my future and use my GI Bill, I just don’t know how to get started. Please point me in the right direction.

A: Congratulations on trying to better your future. Over the course of a career, college graduates make around twice as much money as their non-college colleagues. The extra money you would make can go a long way to improving your family’s quality of life.

Regardless if you have the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill, getting started is the same – go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, the VA will send you your Certificate of Eligibility. When you register for school, you need to take that certificate with you, so your school knows you are a GI Bill student.

As far as how much you would get paid, if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you would get up to $1,564 (the new rate as of October 1st) with three years of service. If you served less than three years, then your monthly amount would be less.

If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and monthly you get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. At the beginning of the semester, you would also get a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 per academic year cap.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, which takes precedence, a full tuition scholarship or the Post-9/11 GI Bill? Can a school reduce a scholarship in order to collect from the VA?

A: A full-tuition scholarship takes precedence. What a lot of people do not know is the VA is the last payer, so if you have a full scholarship dedicated to paying your tuition, your Post 9/11 GI Bill would only pay you the housing allowance and book stipend.

However, if your scholarship is not dedicated to paying tuition, the VA would pay your tuition and you get the housing allowance, book stipend and the scholarship money. So with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, depends on which type of scholarship you have.

If you get a non-dedicated scholarship from your school, make sure they know you are a GI Bill student and that they not apply the money toward tuition. Instead, they should give you the money.

To answer your second question, no a school can’t blatantly reduce your scholarship with the intent to get more money from the VA. Most schools would not risk getting caught doing that. If caught, they could lose their VA-approved status. However with that said, there are certain ways I suppose they could discreetly do it and get away with it. So while I won’t say it can’t be done, I think most schools would not risk it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if I was eligible for the GI Bill. I have a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge from the Army. The list that I got from the military with the list of things that I’m eligible for said that I was able to get that. So is there any way that is possible to go to the VA and talk to them about it? Or is there a way that I’m able to upgrade my discharge to Honorable so that I can get the GI Bill?

A: The list you received that shows you are eligible for the GI Bill is not wrong – you are eligible for it, however, with a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge, you just can’t use your educational GI Bill benefits. So about your only option is to request an upgrade of your General up to a fully Honorable.

If you have been out less than 15 years, then submit DD Form 293 to the Army Discharge Review Board. Be sure to include all documentation to support your upgrade request. Keep in mind the Board is going into the hearing thinking you were awarded the correct discharge. It is your job to convince them it is not the correct one.

I don’t want to discourage you, but I do want you to know what you are going up against. For the Army, only 41% of the requests are approved.

There are two ways you can present your case – either with a paper board or personal appearance. The paper board is the least successful. Personal appearances either by you, your legal counsel or both, have the best chance of success, although if you do hire a lawyer, you have to pay all legal fees yourself, even if you win. If you do hire a lawyer, be sure to get one skilled in military discharge upgrade representation.

If your discharge is upgraded, then you will be able to use your GI Bill benefits to go to school. If not, and you want to appeal it further, then submit DD Form 149 to the Army Board of Corrections of Military Records. The findings of this Board are final as it is the end of the appeal process.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am an active duty Navy dentist who will retire in June 2013, at 32 years. I had not planned on doing further education. I am single and have no dependents. I have not thought about any of the education bills people often talk about. I have never signed up for an education bill. Am I eligible for benefits after I retire in June 2013, or must I have signed up before? May I sign up now before I get set to retire and attend school under any of the plans noted. Thank for your help in the matter. Any help would be appreciated.

A: If you wanted the Montgomery GI Bill, you have to sign up for it and pay the $1,200 contribution fee before you retire. Under it, you would get $1,473 per month for up to 36 months to go to school, but you would have to pay all your own education-related expenses.

However, just for serving for at least three years after September 10, 2001, you are eligible for 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this GI Bill, your tuition is paid for directly to your school by the VA.

Monthly you get a housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take each semester. You also get a book stipend at the rate of $41.67 per credit which for a full-time student runs about $500 per semester. There is a $1,000 per year cap so you would only get this for two semesters before you would hit your limit for that academic year.

And the best part is you don’t have to sign up for he New GI Bill nor do you have to make a contribution – it’s free!

When you get ready to use it, just go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you would get a Certificate of Eligibility showing which GI Bill you have and how much entitlement you have left. Be sure to take a copy of it with you when you register for school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently using my Chapter 30 benefits and have 14 months of benefits remaining. My 10 years will be up in Oct 2013. I am starting law school this fall but will run out of time before I can use up the remaining 14 months of benefits. I know I can convert to Chapter 33 once my Chapter 30 benefits are exhausted for an additional 12 months but I will not be able to exhaust those 14 months prior to my 10 year window. So my question is if I transfer to Chapter 33 after my 10 years is up, will I only get the remaining months of entitlement left on Chapter 30 or will I receive the full 12 months. Thanks.

A: Generally speaking, you will only get the same number of months remaining on your Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). However, even if you do not get the additional 12 months, there would be two advantages to convert. First, you would extend out your delimitation date by an additional 5 years, making your ending date in 2018 instead of 2013. Second, you would most likely enjoy a higher pay rate from the Post 9/11 GI Bill for your remaining 14 months.

Right now, you get a maximum of $1,473 per month under the MGIB and you have to pay all your own education expenses. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition would be paid in full directly to your public school at the resident rate or up to $17,500 per year at a private school.

Monthly you would get a housing allowance that averages $1,300 across the United States. Depending on where you school is located, your actual amount could be more or less. Also, each semester, you would get up to $41.67 per credit in book stipend money, up to the $1,000 per year limit, which is enough for two 12-credit semesters per year. So as you can see, between your housing allowance and book stipend, you would actually make more that you are under the MGIB and your tuition is already paid – something that you have to pay when using the MGIB.