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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I used all my Chapter 1606 GI Bill for my Bachelor’s Degree. I was later hired into the AGR program and paid $1,200 for one year of the Chapter 30 GI Bill. I am now deployed to Afghanistan. When I return home, will I be able to convert that one year of Chapter 30 to Post 9/11 GI Bill? Would it even be feasible if I am still AGR? If the biggest benefit of Post 9/11 is the housing allowance, if I am AGR, I already receive BAH, so I’m wondering if it would even make sense for me to convert. I am enrolled in law school at the University of Akron in Akron, OH and am already using the Federal Tuition Assistance (or at least I was before I deployed), so I am just trying to figure out the best way to maximize my benefits. Thank you!

A: In your scenario, I don’t think it would not make sense to switch. If you have served for at least three years total between the AGR program and being deployed, you would get $1,473 per month for 12 months to go to school under Chapter 30 – the Montgomery GI Bill, but out of that amount, you have to pay the balance on your tuition and books after FTA pays its portion.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your remaining tuition after FTA pays would be paid for by the VA directly to your school and you would get the book stipend of about $41.67 per credit per semester (up to the $1,000 per year limit).

So let’s run some numbers. Let’s assume law school costs $400 per credit, books are $500 per semester, you are taking 12 credits each semester and FTA pays up to $250 per credit or up to $4,500 per year. So in your first semester of an academic year, FTA will pay $3,000 out of the $4,800 for a difference of $1,800. Chapter 30 would pay you $5,892, so if you subtract out $500 for books, you would end up with a net gain of about $3,593 for that first semester.

The second semester will be slightly different in that you will hit your $4,500 FTA maximum. Chapter 30 will still pay you $5,892, but your tuition expenses not paid for by FTA would be $3,300 plus the $500 for books for a total of $3,800 leaving you with a net of $2,092.

Under that same scenario for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, The VA would pay the $2,300 and $3,800 respectively between tuition and books per semester, but that is all you would get. So Chapter 30 would be more lucrative in your case.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: After completing a 5-month diving school that costs $18,000, will I still have 31 full months of benefits remaining even though I used a full years of benefits with money ($18,000 dollars)?

A: No you won’t have 31 months left. Montgomery GI Bill entitlement use is calculated based on the monthly amount of $1,473 increments used – the amount you would normally get for having served for at least three years. If you are in an accelerated, high-cost course as were with your 5-month diving course, calculate your entitlement use by dividing $18,000 by $1,473. If you do the math, it comes out to 12 months. In reality, you used up 12 months of benefits for your 5-month course. So if you started with 36 months, you should have 24 months left.

However, if you are also eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, after you use up your full 36 months of MGIB benefits, you can turn around and switch GI Bills and get an additional 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To qualify for minimal Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you had to serve for at least 90 days on Title 10 orders after September 10, 2001. Three years of service are required to get the full benefit. If you qualify, at least you could get back some of your benefits used for your diving course.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am a reservist. When I signed my contract, I was given the MGIB, MGIB kicker, and the SLRP. Later, I was activated for a nine-month tour. My DD214 says, “Enlisted under loan repayment program, years of commitment, 6. I heard that time cannot be spent on both SLRP and Post 9/11 GI Bill. Does this mean the active duty time spent on deployment does not make me eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? – Joel

A: In the Reserves, the loan repayment program works differently than it does on active duty. On active duty, you already have to have loans eligible for repayment at the time you enlist to qualify for the loan repayment program. And you incur a three-year obligation right away in which during those first three years, you do not acquire GI Bill eligibility. But in the Reserves, you can get the loan repayment program, but not use it right away until you have loans that are ready to pay back during your six-year enlistment.

What the information on your DD214 means is that you enlisted under the loan repayment program and for 6 years – two separate items.
What you heard is true for those on active duty, but that is not the case in the Selected Reserve- you can have both. As far as your Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, your nine-month tour would put you at the 50% tier.

The other difference between active duty and the Selected Reserves in regard to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits option. Active duty personnel can’t transfer benefits unless they are at the 100% tier. Selected Reservists can transfer with less than 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility provided they meet the requirement of having served for six years, currently serving and have at least four years left on their enlistment at the time of transfer. However, the benefit transfer recipient inherits the same percentage as the sponsor making the transfer.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question concerning the MGIB combined with the LRP. I am currently active duty under a 6-year contract. I enlisted with the loan repayment program as my enlistment guarantee. I also paid the $1200 for the Montgomery GI Bill. I haven’t seen any other questions that have been asked about my exact situation, but I have seen similar ones. When I finish my 6-year enlistment, am I correct in assuming that only the last 3 years of my enlistment can be applied towards the Montgomery GI Bill, since the first 3 years get applied to the LRP? And does that still equal a full entitlement?

A: When you enlist for the Loan Repayment Program, you incur a three-year obligation. During that time you do not acquire GI Bill eligibility because you can’t use the same period of service to pay back your LRP obligation and acquire GI Bill eligibility.

With LRP, annually you have to fill out DD Form 2475 on each eligible loan for repayment. Many servicemembers miss this step and then wonder why nothing is getting paid on their loans. At the end of three years, your loans should either be paid off or at least paid off up to the maximum amount payable per year on each loan.

Then you start acquiring GI Bill eligibility. Actually, in your case, you will start acquiring eligibility on two GI Bills – the Montgomery GI Bill that you paid for and the Post 9/11 GI Bill which is free to you just by serving more than 90 days after September 10, 2001.

At the end of the second three-year period, you will have full eligibility (36 months at 100%) that can be used for either GI Bill or 48 months if you use both of them. To get the full 48 months, first exhaust your 36 months of MGIB benefits. Then switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get the additional 12 months.

Or switch right away and get 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, a higher rate of pay, and get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back after using your last month of benefits, but you won’t get the additional time doing it this way.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married, but I want to start school before we do. He wants to give me his GI bill but if I start school first will I still be able to use it? And he is through the Louisiana National Guard and we reside in Texas now. Will I be able to use his Louisiana GI bill in a Texas university?

A: If the only federal GI Bill your boyfriend has is the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), which is the federal GI Bill for National Guardsmen and Reservists, then he can’t transfer it to you because it does not have a transfer option to it. He can use it if he has been in less than ten years, but he can’t transfer it. Just so you know, once he hits his ten years of service mark it expires, as well as expiring when he gets out of the Guard.

You referenced the Louisiana GI Bill, but a LA ANRG spouse can only use that if his/her military spouse was deceased or disabled as a result of military service in a war zone. So that one won’t work either (nor would you want it to).

However, if your boyfriend deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation or served on a Title 32 Section 502(f) order (State orders used in a national emergency), he could have some eligibility under the Post 9/11 GI Bill that he may be able to transfer to you once you are married and if he meets the transfer of benefits eligibility requirements. But as a girlfriend, he can’t do much for you as far as transferring educational benefits to you even if he has them.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently on deployment in Afghanistan. My wife is trying to go to BCC (Broward Community College) under my GI Bill benefits. What are the necessary steps that I need to take to transfer my benefits to her? She has already filed the form 221098E

A: I have no idea how the 1098-E is connected with this question, unless there is another 1098-E. The one I’m familiar with is a form sent out by student loan providers that is used to show how much was paid on student loans during that tax year. Unless you mean the VA Form 22-1990e. That would be the form she would have sent in to get her Post 9/11 GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). However, it will come back disapproved, because she did not first already have benefits that had been transferred to her yet (and approved) before she submitted her form. The VA can’t approve something she doesn’t yet have.

The way the process works is first you have to meet the transfer of benefits eligibility requirements which are:
• Currently serving at the time of the transfer request
• Have served for at least six years
• Have at least four years remaining on your enlistment

If you meet those requirements, then go to the milConnect website and enter into your wife’s record the number of months of benefits you wish to transfer to her. After 8 to 10 weeks, check back at the website to see if your request status has changed from “Pending Review” to “Request Approved”.

Once approved, then have your wife go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, she will then get her CoE which she will need when she registers for school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, if you take two 3-credit classes for the first half of a semester and two 3-credit classes for the second half of a semester (and your school considers you full-time), but only one of those 4 classes is on campus, do you still get full BAH for both half semesters or only for the one with the on campus class? More so, does VA go by what the school considers full-time or whether you are taking 12 credits worth of classes at once?

A: The VA goes by whether you are taking enough credits at any one-time each semester to be classified as a full-time student by your school. You have to watch out for courses that do not run a full semester because you could end up not having enough credits during part of the semester to warrant you Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance eligibility.

For example, if your school considers 12 credits as full-time, you would not get the housing allowance, because at any one-time you are only taking 6 credits. However, if your school consider 6 credits as full-time, then you would qualify for the full housing allowance credit-wise. Make sense?

In other words, the real question is does your school consider 6 credits or 12 to be full-time? It matters, because your housing allowance eligibility is driven off of the number of credits you are taking at any one time – not 12 credits overall throughout the semester.

To answer your second question, let’s assume your school does use 6 credits as their full-time figure. If you are taking two classes online during the first half of the semester and one class online and one on campus the second half of the semester, then you would get the online-only housing allowance rate for the first half of the semester and the full amount for the second half. You only get the full housing allowance rate if you are taking a full credit load and at least one class per semester, creditable to your degree plan, on campus.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I went to basic training in January 2011 and apparently signed up for the MGIB (I was sleep-deprived and didn’t really know what was going on!), so I paid the $1200 over the course of a year. If there is such a big difference between what’s covered in the MGIB versus the new GI Bill, can I switch to the new one? And why don’t they just make the new GI Bill automatic, instead of offering the MGIB? I am currently 18 mos. into my 3.5 year obligation, but want to know more about what education options I have with what I’ve paid into. Thank you.

A: Really there isn’t that much difference anymore between what is covered by the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Before GI Bill 2.0 was implemented in January 2011, the big difference was that the Post 9/11 GI Bill would not pay for non-degree training, so if you wanted to take a vocational or technical course, you had to use the MGIB.

So with that out of the way, now the biggest differences are how each GI Bill pays and the amount. If you were to use the MGIB, it would pay you $1,473 per month while you were in school, as a full-time student with at least three years of service. Out of that amount, you have to pay tuition, fees, books and still have money to live on.

If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you still get 36 months of benefits, as you do under the MGIB, but instead the VA pays your tuition directly to your school; you get a monthly housing allowance that averages $1,200 across the U.S. and a book stipend once each semester that is generally around $500. However, there is a $1,000 per academic year ceiling, so you can usually get the book stipend for at least two semesters of a school year.

Yes you can switch GI Bills. To do so, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return you will get a Certificate of Eligibility back showing your months of benefits and which GI Bill you have.

Because the two GI Bills are gradually getting closer together, I imagine at some point the MGIB might be phased out, but for now it is alive and well.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have received a full tuition scholarship to attend law school this coming year in New York. Tuition at the school is $47,800. How would the GI Bill help me in this situation? Would it get sent to me or the school? I still need money for housing, books… Also, do you know approximately how much I would be receiving? It’s a little confusing because it is a private New York school. Thanks in advance for your help.

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are talking about. If you plan on using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you could expect to get up to $1,473 per month. That payment would come to you either in the form of a check or Direct Deposit depending on how you have it set up. You could use that money as you wish.

If you are talking about using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then all you would get is the housing allowance and book stipend, but that money would come to you also. The book stipend would be calculated at $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 per year cap. For 12 credits per semester, this is enough for two semesters per school year.

As far as your housing allowance, it is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. For example a full-time student going to school in New York City would get $2,835 per month. That same student going to school in Rochester, NY would only get $1,344 per month. So because I don’t know exactly where you will go to school, I can’t tell you how much you would get.

What many people don’t know is the VA is the last payer as far as tuition is concerned. So because you are on a full scholarship, the VA would not pay anything toward your tuition, because there is nothing left to pay once your scholarship pays for your tuition.

In the end, they are your GI Bill benefits and if you want to spend them and only get back in return your housing allowance and book stipend, then that is your choice. It would provide however what you need – money for housing and books.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hey, my dad is in the National Guard and has mentioned that I could continue my education for free by using his GI Bill. But he also told me that I would have to attend school in Delaware, because that is where he is enlisted at. I was born in Delaware and lived there until I was 18 years old then moved to North Carolina. I’m not too sure if I want to move back, plus the school that I would really want to attend is here in North Carolina. I was wondering if I HAVE to go to school in Delaware, or was that something he just made up?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you dad is talking about. As a National Guardsman, he would normally get the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), however that GI Bill does not have a transfer-of-benefits clause, so you couldn’t use that one.

If your dad deployed under a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, then he could have some benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under the right conditions, meaning he has to have served for at least six years and have at least four years remaining on his enlistment at the time of the transfer request, he could pass on those benefits to you.

However because that is a federal GI Bill, you can use those benefits at any GI Bill-approved school to include the Territories and even overseas. As a National Guardsman, he also might have some State GI Bill benefits. If you are authorized to use those benefits, then they would have to be used in the state of Delaware.

I just looked at Delaware’s website on Veterans Benefits and right now they are showing “Delaware provides four-year, full-tuition benefits to children of the following veterans:
• Military who were killed in action or died as a result of service
• Current or former prisoners of war
• Military officially declared missing in action

To receive the benefit, these children must be between the ages of 16 and 24 and have lived in Delaware for at least three years prior to applying.” So under this clause, you would not be eligible to use his Delaware GI Bill benefit.