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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have read (and heard) about using up the 36 months of MGIB and then getting an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill. Is this possible? I served from 1988-2008 and am completing my Bachelor’s degree within the next year and have six months left of my MGIB. Thank you for your time.

A: It is possible and many veterans are taking advantage of it. What you heard is correct, but you have to do it the right way to get the additional year of benefits.

If you were to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now, with six months of MGIB benefits left, then all you would get would be six months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and not the additional 12 months. However, if you first exhaust those six months (or at least select an election date that would be after you have used up your remaining six months) then you would get the additional year of benefits.

To make the switch now, go to the eBenefits website and select VA Form 22-1990. In Part II be sure to check Box 9F, enter an election date that is after you have used up your MGIB benefits and check the Chapter 30 block as the GI Bill you are giving up.

In return, you would get a Certificate of Eligibility that will show your additional 12 months of entitlement. If you are going to school at the time you switch, your certificate may show less than 12 months by the time you get it as the VA “loans” you benefits from your additional 1 year to get you to the end of the semester and to keep the pay coming to you. On your end, the switch from MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill should be seamless and transparent.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am currently a Post 9/11 GI Bill user at the 100% rate. I just found out that I have been offered a scholarship for next year’s Fall semester. The scholarship covers full tuition and gives me a stipend for living expenses. However, the stipend is less than my GI Bill monthly stipend would be. My question is whether receiving the scholarship’s stipend will change my ability to receive the GI Bill monthly stipend? Ideally I would like both. Is this possible?

A: It is possible to get both housing stipends, however, I question whether it is a good use of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and here is why. If your tuition is paid through your scholarship, then the VA will not pay anything for your tuition as they are the last bill payer and there won’t be anything left to pay. So all you are getting out of your GI Bill entitlement is the book stipend paid at $41.67 per credit and your housing stipend.

The question you have justify to yourself is if that is how you want to “spend” your GI Bill entitlement. If it was me, I would take the scholarship and not use my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for that semester. You can start and stop your New GI Bill at will, so it is not as if you have to use it for every semester; you have up to 15 years from your date of discharge to use up your benefits before you lose what you have left.

My advice is to use them smartly. I know it is tempting to get both housing stipends, but there may be a time in the future where you wish you had some benefits left to use. Think through it and make your decision.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired from the U.S. Marine Corps on 5/31/06 and I am a little confused with the transfer option to a dependent. My son is 20 years old and will be finished with his AA Degree this May. Can I transfer my post 9/11 GI Bill benefits over to him? Will he get a book stipend? Will he get the E-5 Basic allowance for housing if he is a full time student? Thank you so much for your time.

A: The issue with transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a dependent is the way Congress wrote the New GI Bill rules, you have to be currently serving after August 1, 2009 in order to get a transfer request approved. You were out over three years by that time.

But to answer your other questions, and if you were able to transfer benefits to him at the 100% level, yes if he attended a degree-producing school, he would get the book stipend of $41.67 per credit. It would come toward the beginning of each semester, but it is capped yearly at $1,000, enough for two 12-credit semesters per year. If he attended a non-degree producing school, then his book stipend would be $87 per month.

As far as the housing allowance, he would get the full amount authorized for the zip code of his school provided he was at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill level and taking enough credits to be considered a full-time student. And yes it is paid at the E-5-with-dependents pay grade.

I know it is frustrating that you have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you will not use and a son that is going to school and could use the benefits, but you never got a chance to make a transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used all but two months of my MGIB education benefits. I thought that I would be eligible for Post 9/11 benefits that would renew my eligibility for an additional 12 months if I applied for Post 9/11 benefits but now I am told that I have to use up the MGIB benefits first. If I applied for Post 9/11 but did not understand about losing the 12 months, can I reverse the application or will I now just have two months of Post 9/11 available to me?

A: Ignorance of the GI Bill rules is not a good defense in the eyes of the VA. What you were told is generally correct. If you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB benefits left, all you will get for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits is the same number of months you had left under the MGIB. If you first exhaust your MGIB benefits and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get the additional 12 months.

The VA is very specific about noting on the VA Form 22-1990 that the decision to transfer is irrevocable. In Item 9f notes they say “An election to give up benefits under an existing program and receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is IRREVOCABLE. You should carefully consider your decision before completing this section. If you need more information to make a choice, you should visit our website at www.gibill.va.gov or call our toll-free customer service number at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).” In Item 9f itself, by checking the block you understand “My election is irrevocable and may not be changed.”

So in their eyes, it is a one-way street. However, with that said, I have heard of a couple of instances where the VA did switch back the veteran because s/he had not yet used the New GI Bill benefits. Don’t depend on that happening all the time, but if you want to switch back and have not used your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits yet since switching, it would not hurt to ask.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I have a question about the GI Bill. I guess it would go under the housing allowance category. My dad is transferring part of his GI Bill to me and he said part of it comes with about $1,300 a month for living expenses. He thinks you only get that extra $1300 if you’re living in a dorm, but he isn’t sure if that’s the case or not. So my question is, if I live off campus but go to school mostly full time, will I get that extra $1,300 a month to help pay for living expenses as well, or do I have to live in a dorm room on campus to get that? Thanks!

A: No you don’t have to live in a dorm to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance. As a matter of fact, you can live at home, not pay rent and still get the same amount (but don’t tell your dad I said so). This question recently came up again, so I don’t know if it is a coincidence or if it posted somewhere on the Internet.

Right now, there is not a GI Bill in the bunch that pays you anything more or less if you live in a dorm. You can live in a dorm, off campus in an apartment, share a house with friends or live at home – it doesn’t make a difference to the VA.

However, I did want to clarify the $1,300 amount referenced by your dad. The $1,300 is an average across the whole United States. You may get around that amount, or more or less, depending on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. If you go to school in the Midwest, it will be slightly less than the average, however, if you are a full-time student and your school is located on either the East or West Coast, it would be about double that amount.

As I mentioned, your housing allowance is driven by the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. For example, if your school considers 12 credits to be full-time and you are only taking 9 credits, you would only get 9/12ths of the full housing allowance authorized for their zip code, so the number of credits you take can make a big difference in the amount you get.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: At what percentage of disability can I transfer my GI Bill to my children? Do I need to change it from the MGIB to the Post 9-11 for them to use their benefits?

A: If you are just talking about transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your children, it isn’t based on a disability percentage at all. As long as you:
• have served for at least six years and
• are currently serving at the time of transfer and
• have at least four years left on your enlistment (unless you are retirement eligible at the time of transfer) or
• have at least 10 years in and are precluded from continuing your service due to statutory requirements (of which a service-connected disability should satisfy that requirment), you can make a transfer request.

As far as if you have to transfer from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to make a transfer, it happens automatically at the time you make a transfer request because the MGIB doesn’t have a transfer of benefits option.

If you meet the above transfer eligibility requirements, then go to the TEB website and enter into your childrens’ records the number of months you want to transfer. If their records are grayed out and it won’t let you enter anything, it means you are not eligible to make a transfer request. Most likely the reason would be you don’t have four years left on your enlistment. Once you figure out what caused the graying out, try again.

So as you can see, being able to transfer benefits isn’t based on a disability percentage at all – it is based on Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility and service requirements.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: When I enlisted, my contract said I have both SLRP and Reserve Select GI Bill. While on AD orders I had a line of duty injury that required surgery. Now I’m able to get the Post 9/11 GI. My question is am I now going to be able to use both my SLRP and Post 9/11 GI Bill to go to school?

A: First let’s define how a Reservist or National Guardsman gains eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill – you have to have served for at least 90 continuous days on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, unless you have a service-connected injury resulting in a discharge – then you have to have served for at least 30 continuous days to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So if your LOD resulted in a service-connected discharge, you most likely are eligible for 36 months of the New GI Bill at the 100% tier.

In the Selected Reserves, you can sign up for the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) before you have any student loans and it kicks in once you have eligible loans established (as long as you are still in the Selected Reserve). That differs from active duty where you already have to have eligible loans at the time you enlist and signup for SLRP.

So with all the background information out of the way, onto answering your question – if you are no longer in the Selected Reserves, you won’t be able to use SLRP as it ended when you were discharged, but you will be able to still use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you are still serving in the Selected Reserves, then yes, you most likely still have SLRP and you could use both programs.

However if you are out, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you most likely won’t acquire much in student loans anyway. If you attend a public school in the state where you are a resident, your Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay all your tuition and fees. If you end up having to pay out-state tuition or go to a private school, then look for a school that has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA and you can reduce the amount of out-of-pocket tuition you would end up having to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband (veteran) transferred his 36 months of (100%) Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to me; dependent. I’m getting conflicting information on whether the ‘yellow ribbon’ benefits are applicable to anyone other than the veteran. Can you verify whether dependents whom have been granted rights to Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are able to use the yellow ribbon provisions?

A: Yes I can answer your Yellow Ribbon questions. Actually, there are two situations where spouses can’t use the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill – if the veteran is at a tier lower than 100% (as could be the case with National Guard and Reserve members) or if the sponsor is still serving. However, a dependent child could use the Yellow Ribbon program if the sponsor is still serving. So being your veteran husband is at the 100% tier, you can use the Yellow Ribbon Program if you have a need to use it.

Generally speaking, if you are attending a public school and are considered a resident in the state where the school is located, your tuition and applicable fees would be paid in full by the VA anyway. However, if you are paying out-state tuition or attending a public school whose tuition exceeds the $17,500 maximum, then you could benefit from using the Yellow Ribbon Program.

When you inquire as to whether your school has the Yellow Ribbon Program or not, be sure to ask if your program of instruction is covered and at what percentage. Some Yellow Ribbon Agreements only cover certain training programs. So while a school may advertise they are a Yellow Ribbon school, it doesn’t necessarily mean they cover all programs of instruction.

If you need to use the Yellow Ribbon program, don’t be afraid to “shop” around to see which GI Bill-approved school has the best percentage. While The more they pay, the less you will have to pay in out-of-pocket costs.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently using my husband’s Post 9-11 GI Bill and there is a possibility that he will get an honorable discharge due to weight. While he is doing his best to lose the weight, I want to be prepared if it does happen. He has no blemishes on his record and has been in for 10 years so we don’t expect it to be anything other than honorable. Do I loose these benefits? Do I have to pay back what I’ve used? Will there still be anything for him to use when and if he gets out?

A: Let me answer your questions once at a time. It is possible that your husband would get an honorable discharge if he has a “clean” record, but it is really up to his command as far as how they process his discharge paperwork. As far as if you will have to pay back benefits or not, most likely not. The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules read, if he has “served 10 years and is precluded from serving due to statute limitations”, his transfer of benefits should be good.

The real question is if his discharge will be covered under that clause. If it is, you should be fine; if not, then you could lose what remaining benefits you have. If you do lose your remaining benefits, I doubt if you would have to pay anything back, but you could.

Because we are not the VA or even affiliated with them in any way, I have no way of knowing what they will do.

As far as if he will have anything left to use or not depends on how much of his 36 months of benefits he transferred to you. If he gave you everything, then he has nothing left to use right now. However, because he is the sponsor servicemember of your transferred benefits, he can revoke some of those remaining unused benefits he transferred to you and use them himself. All he has to do is contact the VA with his revocation of benefits request, your information and how many months he wishes to take back.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi. My question is to whether or not my father is able to transfer his G.I. Bill to me. He left the military in 2008 or 2009, and has not used his Montgomery G.I. Bill for anything. However, he says he does not believe he can transfer it to me for my education because he was in the reserves. I was wondering if this was true and what could possibly be hindering him from being able to transfer the bill to me. Much appreciated.

A: There are basically a couple of things “hindering” your father from transferring his benefits to you. First, because he was in the Reserves, he most likely had the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR). With that GI Bill, if he served over 10 years, it automatically expired at the end of his 10th year. If he served less than 10 years, it expired when he got out.

Second, even when he did have it while he was in the Reserves, it did not have a transfer-of-benefits option to it. Only he alone could use its benefits.

If he had the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill from previous active duty service, it does not have a transfer-of-benefits option either.The only GI Bill he could have transferred to you was if he had deployed on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

And the way that GI Bill is written, in order to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill to you, he had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009”, had served for at least 6 years and agree to serve an additional 4 years at the time of transfer. So even if your father has the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he can’t make a transfer of benefits to you because he is already retired.