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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I currently have the Montgomery GI Bill but I am looking to switch it over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I qualify for the switch and I am wondering how to do so?

A: Doing so is easy – just go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990, but please read the rest of this post before doing so because once you switch, you can’t go back.

If you have both the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill, there are two ways you can use both GI Bills. The first way is to use your MGIB benefits to exhaustion and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once switched, you would get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits.

Or, you could switch with all your MGIB months of benefits intact and not get the additional months of benefits, but you would then be able to use your benefits at the higher pay structure.

Also, by switching with all 36 months of benefits intact and once you have used up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI bill benefits, you would get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back. It would come as part of your last housing allowance payment.

So, it comes down to if you want more months of benefits (especially if you are looking at getting an advanced degree) or getting a four-year degree and getting paid more in the process.

Under the MGIB, you would get $1,473 per month as a full-time student and you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees, you get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once each semester for two semesters per year. Your housing allowance is usually almost or more that what you get from the MGIB by itself.

Just a word of caution – if you are at the Post 9/11 GI Bill 60% tier or less, you may be better off staying with the MGIB.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father served 1974-2007 in the Navy, is it possible to transfer his GI Bill to me now?

A: No it is not – at least for right now. According to the transfer rules of Post 9/11 GI Bill written by Congress, the servicemember has to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” in order to make a transfer request. In addition, s/he also has to have served for at least 6 years and agree to serve for another 4 years.

When the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules were written, those retiring before August 1, 2009 were overlooked and that wrong has not been righted yet to this day. A couple pieces of legislation have been introduced over the last few years that if approved would have corrected this last remaining issue, however, not only did neither piece pass, neither even made it to a vote and both have subsequently died in place.

If you are interested, I have created a petition that if approved, would give 20-year plus veterans retiring before August 1, 2009, an opportunity to make a one-time transfer to a dependent(s) or spouse. Please read it over and if you (and your father) choose to support it, we would love for you to sign the document. There are basically two groups affected and the petition explains each group very well.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I transferred all 36 months of Post 9/11 benefits to my son. I then applied for the Chapter 1607 (REAP) and was informed that I had only 12 months and received a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for use of the 1607. After 9 weeks VA informed me I was denied. All my research shows I can qualify for it. My question is, am I eligible for the additional 12 months of 1607?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you gave up when you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. More on that in a bit.

Being you transferred all 36 Post 9/11 GI Bill months to your son, it would make sense that you would only get an additional 12 months under another GI Bill. Under the Rule of 48, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the most total combined months of benefits you can get are 48.

If REAP is the only other GI Bill you have besides the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then I understand why the VA would not give you the additional 12 months. When you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you gave up another GI Bill. Do you recall what that was when you filled out your VA Form 22-1990? Most likely it was REAP.

There could also be one other reason. REAP was the forerunner to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however unlike the Post 9/1 GI Bill, you have to stay in the Reserves or National Guard to use your REAP benefits, so if you are out, you don’t have any REAP benefits left to use. I can’t tell from your question if you are still serving or not. The reason you can’t get the additional 12 months of benefits under REAP will be due to one of the two reasons I have listed above.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I originally enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1998 with a two-year contract. In my contract, I was entitled to a reduced version of MGIB which I used for almost 18 months from 2001 to 2003. After the invasion, I enlisted into the USMC and have been on active duty since 2004 until current, but soon I will be leaving the Marines. Am I entitled to the Post-9/11 GI Bill? If so how do I check my number of months left to receive benefits and how do I switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill from the MGIB?

A: Yes, you are authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill with your service after September 10, 2001. However, you won’t be able to get the full 36 months. Under the Rule of 48, if you are authorized two or more GI Bills, the most combined months of benefits you can get are 48.

But to get the full 48 months, you have to first exhaust your Montgomery GI Bill benefits (which you should have about 6 months left) to get your remaining months of benefits. In your case, if you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right now, you will get the same number of months as you have left under your MGIB. However if you first exhaust those months and then switch to the New GI Bill, you can get the additional time.

The best way to check to see how much time you have left to use is to submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. In return, you will get back a Certificate of Eligibility that will show your unused months of benefits.

If you want to switch to the New GI Bill, you can do so by submitting the same form you used to get your certificate. Just check the Chapter 33 block, the block for the GI Bill you are giving up and an election date when you want to start using your New GI Bill benefits. If you want the additional time, make sure your election date is after you have used up your MGIB.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently attending an online school with no ground campus, while on active duty. I understand that I will only receive half of the national average (about $600), if I elect to only attempt online classes when I ETS. While talking with a VA Rep, however, I found out that I only have to attend one brick and mortar class (along with my online classes) to receive the full payment of BAH. She said that it just had to go towards my degree. Would a community college work to fulfill that need if it went towards my core ed (Math, English, Electives, etc.) or would the fact that I already possess an associate’s degree stop me from attending a community college?

A: Just because you already have an associate’s degree, that would not stop you from attending a community college to pick up classes that you need for your four-year degree plan. What wouldn’t work is if you wanted to get another associate’s degree.

What your VA representative told you is true. Once you are out, all you need to do to get the full Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is to take one class per semester on campus that applies to your degree plan. That is the key – your on campus classes have to apply to your degree plan. If they don’t, then the VA would not pay for the course(s) nor would the credits for those courses apply towards the number of credits you need to get the housing allowance.

The best way to take on campus courses is to have your online college – called the primary school and the one that will be issuing your degree – send a letter to your secondary college – the college where you will take your on campus classes – to inform them of the classes you will be taking from them. When you are finished taking classes, the secondary school will put the credits on a transcript so your primary school can apply those credits to your degree plan.

Not only does doing it this way get you closer to your degree sooner, it would also allow you to get more housing allowance money.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I am going to school once a week. The representative from the school informed me that in the fall semester, I will be only taking 6 credits. I am aware that I need 7 credits in order to qualify for 51% of benefits. The one credit that I need, can I take from a different school? Maybe online? I need options, What do you suggest that I do in order to get this one credit that I am missing for the benefits? Thank you.

A: You might not need to take 7 credits, unless your school establishes at least 12 credits as full-time. Some schools do use lesser number of credits as their full-time mark. But if your school does use 12 credits as full-time, then taking 6 credits would not qualify you for the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance as you noted and you would need at least an additional one-credit class.

Your two options as you noted are either taking a class at another school or taking one online. Taking a class at another school has to be first approved by your present school. How that works is your school that will be issuing your degree is designated as your primary school. The other school is your secondary school.

Your primary school would send a letter to your secondary school laying out which class you would take from them. Once you have finished that class, your secondary school will put the credits on a transcript. Your primary school transfers those credits to your degree plan. Whether you take classes online or on campus, it works the same way.

The key to making this work is to communicate with your primary school as to why you need to take classes at another school or online. Your VA Certifying Official at your primary school should be familiar with this process and s/he can assist you.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have the regular MGIB (not the Post 9/11). I’ve found a trucking school that costs roughly $3,500 for 5 weeks of training with CDL, if you pass the final test. Would my MGIB pay the whole $3,500? If not, what amount would it pay?

A: Most likely it would pay the full amount, although it will use up more than 5 weeks of your MGIB benefits. Because the MGIB pays $1,473 per month to go to school right now, your five-week $3,500 commercial driving school amount would use up almost 2 ½ months of benefits.

Also, if the cost of your CDL (test and endorsements) is not included in the cost of your course, you could can get up to $2,000 in reimbursement for the cost of the test. You have to pay the money up front and then submit VA Form 22-0803 from the VA’s website to get your money back.

Also, before you enroll, be sure to ask if they take the GI Bill and in particular the Montgomery GI Bill. Some schools take one GI Bill, but not others. Even within some schools, one course may be approved for the GI Bill while another course may not. So it never hurts to ask all the questions upfront instead of enrolling in a course, just to find out the course was not GI Bill approved or the school isn’t approved to take your GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How does the Army College fund work with the Post 9/11 GI Bill? I have seen two answers on other sites.1. The Army College Fund as paid out in my enlistment contract will be paid in the same way on the Post 9/11 or MGIB. It will be deposited with the monthly housing payment.2. The Army College Fund is only paid under the MGIB, electing the Post 9/11 means giving up the ACF.

A: The Army College Fund can be used in conjunction with either the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is generally paid out as an additional amount to your monthly Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

How it is normally figured is the VA will take out your MGIB amount at the time you enlisted from your total ACF figure. What is left (the ACF portion) is split into 36 equal payments and as long as you are using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get a payment each month until you either run out of benefits or stop going to school, whichever is first.

Many servicemembers were duped into thinking that the ACF amount they signed up for was on top of their MGIB payments when in fact their MGIB was part of the total ACF amount. The ACF payment normally runs from $150 to $350 per month.

The program that can’t be used with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but can with the MGIB, is the Buy-Up program. Under that program, you paid in up to $600 and received up to $5,400 in education benefits on top of what you would get under the MGIB. But for some reason, it can’t be used with the New GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am an Afghanistan veteran and served 12 months overseas. I am no longer in the IL Army National Guard and have ETS’d. Can I still get the 1607 or the New Post 9-11 GI Bill?

A: You could get the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but not Chapter 1607 (REAP). To use REAP, you would have to still be serving in the National Guard.

If the 12 months you had in Afghanistan is the only qualifying Post 9/11 GI Bill time, then you would be setting at the 60% tier. That means the VA would pay up to 60% of your tuition and fees at a public school or up to 60% of $17,500 per year at a private school for up to 36 months. You would also get 60% of the housing allowance and book stipend.

Generally speaking, Chapter 1607 (REAP) was the forerunner to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. While it is still available (if you are still serving), most choose the Post 9/11 GI Bill because of the higher pay structure.

To figure out about what you would get at the 60% tier, you can go to the BAH calculator and enter the zip code of your school. From the Pay Grade drop-down menu select “E-5 with dependents” and click Submit. You would get 60% of this amount if you are considered a full-time student. If you are carrying less credits than full-time, then multiply the full amount by the number of credits you are taking and divide by the number of credits your school considers to be full-time.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a son who is in college and his dad is in the military. Instead of letting my son get his check once everything is approved and go to his direct deposit account, he wants my son’s money to come to him in his account so he can give him what he wants him to have. Is that lawful? My second son with him also got his portion of the GI Bill and he got all of his money to come to him until his time was up.

A: It is not unlawful for your husband to do that as the VA will deposit the money into whatever account is on the VA Form 22-1990e. If no Direct Deposit information is provided, then a check would be sent to the address on the form.

Because your husband did not do that with your other son, he may have good reason for doing it this way with son number two. Maybe he is not a good money manager and your husband is trying to teach him good money management, a valuable skill used throughout his lifetime.

However in my estimation, he may also be passing up a good opportunity to let your son go out on his own. He will have to anyway at some point. Teach him the basics of good money management, let him manage his GI Bill funds and periodically review how he spent the money. He will know how much he would have coming in each month and learn how to make it last until he gets another payment.

He may make some bad choices in the beginning, but once he knows he is not getting any more money until his next Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance payment comes, you would be surprised how he will learn to manage money.