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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am going to be getting honorably discharged in June 2012. I am currently under the Montgomery GI Bill and I am trying to switch over to the Post 9/11. Will I need to do this before I get out and if so, what form will I use to accomplish this. Also, after I get out, will I be able to attend 2 different schools at one time under the Post 9/11 and how will this affect my BAH?

A: No, you will not need to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill before you get out (however you can if you want to). You can do it anytime and you have up to 15 years from your last date of discharge to use up your benefits.

To switch, you will need to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return you would receive a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school.

As far as attending two schools at once, here is how it works. The school that will be issuing your degree is known as your primary school. The other school where you will attend some classes is the secondary school. You have to work out with your primary school which classes in your degree plan you want to take at the secondary school (and possibly why).

If approved, your primary school will send your secondary school a letter stating which classes you will attend. Once you have finished those classes, your secondary school will send a transcript of the credits to your primary school. Your primary school will post the transcripts to your degree plan crediting you for those classes.

As far as calculating your housing allowance, the VA will use the zip code of your primary school along with the combined number of credits you take at both schools.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is planning on transferring 100% of his benefits to me so I can attend school. I’m curious as to what I would be entitled to and if the benefits would pay for either medical school, to become a Doctor, a specialized nursing degree or a midwife certification.

A: Before you husband goes to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website, ensure he is currently serving, has served for at least 6 years and has at least four years left on his enlistment. Once in place, he can enter into your record the number of months he want to transfer to you. After his request is approved, you should receive your Certificate of Eligibility, which you will need when you enroll in school.

Since GI Bill 2.0, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays for more types of training than it did before. I know it will pay up through a doctorate degree, so becoming a Doctor or specialized nurse should not be a problem. I’ve never looked up to see if it pays for a midwife certification or not. Let me do that right now . . .I don’t see that certification listed.

The only limitation you would have is the months of benefits. The most your husband can transfer to you is 36 months, which is enough for four 9-month school years.

If you attend a public school, the VA pays your tuition and fees in full at the resident rate directly to your school. If you attend a private school, the VA would only pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition.

If you wait until he is out to use your benefits, then monthly you would get a housing allowance sent to you along with a book stipend once each semester. If you plan on using your benefits while he is still serving, then you would only get the book stipend.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I am a spouse of a military member. My husband’s application for TEB got approved, then I completed the VA Form 22-1990E and submitted it. I researched some more about the educational benefits and it said that I had to be enrolled in DEERS at the time that I submitted which I was not but I am NOW. I’m still waiting on my certificate of eligibility. Will I have to resubmit if they tell me that I got disapproved?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) website uses DEERS as its database of record. When your husband went to the TEB website to enter in the number of months he wanted to transfer to you, if you were not in DEERS at that time, your TEB record would have been grayed out and he would not have been able to enter anything into it. So if his was able to enter months of benefits into your record, you were already showing as his dependent in DEERS.

Once his TEB request is approved (by the status block changing from “Pending Review” to “Request Approved”) then you have to send in VA Form 22-1990e, which you said have done. In 8 to 10 weeks, you should get your Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). If your CoE is disapproved, it will give you a general statement as to why, but it should be fine if his TEB request was actually approved.

Once you get your CoE, take it with you as your school will need to make a copy of it when you enroll. After enrolling, they will send a Certificate of Enrollment along with your CoE to the VA. Those two documents matching up is what starts payment coming to your school for your tuition and fees and money coming to you for the book stipend and housing allowance. You won’t get paid your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance unless you use your benefits after your husband is out of the service, but you will get the book stipend either way.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I use the GI Bill if my husband was active duty and is still in the reserves? Also, if he retires while I am still in school, do the benefits cease? Thank you!

A: You pose an interesting question here, because there is confusion among Selected Reservists as far as which GI Bill expires when. The easy answer is the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) expires 10 years from the Notice of Eligibility or if the member has served for more than 10 years, upon discharge. So once the servicemember is out of the Guard or Reserves, their GI Bill benefits expire. However, this GI Bill does not have a transfer benefit option to it.

The other two GI Bills, Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill both are good after retiring. The MGIB-AD has a 10-year delimitation date with the Post 9/11 GI Bill having a 15-year limit. The time clock on both GI Bills start on the date of the last discharge.

So the answer to your first question is yes – you can still use the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits he transferred to you while on active duty even if he is now in the Reserves. I know you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill because the MGIB-AD does not have a transfer option to it either.

The answer to your second question is no, the benefits you are using do not cease if he retires, however, you are held to the 15-year delimitation date just as he is if he were using the benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I recently spoke with an education counselor at Embry Riddle about attending their Professional Pilots program. He informed me that while the class time was covered through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the actual flight time was not. The website is pretty vague about the issue, is there any truth to this and if so what are the stipulations?

A: Flight training using your GI Bill benefits is tenacious at best. Many servicmembers would like to use their GI Bill benefits to learn how to fly as an avocation, but that is not what the GI Bill is about. It is meant to enable you to get an education that you can use for a career.

So the basic VA stipulation for commercial flight training is you must (usually) already have your private pilot’s license and medical certificate before enrolling in a flight training program. I said “must (usually)” because in some flight training programs, getting your private pilot’s license is part of the program, but the number of programs set up that way are few and it all depends on how the school writes up their curriculum.

As far as how much the VA will pay for flight training, it depends on the type of program you pursue. If you are in a four-year degree-producing program, then just like any other bachelor’s degree program, they pay full resident-rate tuition/fees at a public school, or up to $17,500 per year at a private school. In either case, you would also get the book stipend and housing allowance. The fees that the VA pays are the normal fees the school charges all students. So with that said, most likely your flight time is not covered.

If you take a non-degree producing flight training program using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA pays a maximum of $10,000 per year and you do not get either the housing allowance or book stipend and your flight time isn’t covered.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can the GI Bill be split up among 3 dependents? Can the GI Bill be transferred from one child to another? The GI Bill will be coming from my husband, the children’s step-father. Thank you!

A: Yes and yes, but with a caveat, actually two. First, for your husband to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your children, he has to have formally gone through the adoption process. One of the reasons is the children have to show up as his dependents in DEERS because the transfer process uses DEERS as their database of record.

Second, he can make transfer requests as long as he is currently serving, has at least four years left on his enlistment and has served for at least six years on active duty – less active duty time is required if he is in the National Guard or Reserves. If he is within four years of retiring, then he just has to make sure his enlistment would take him out to 20 years.

To make transfer requests, all he has to do is go to the milConnect Website and enter into each child’s record the number of months he wishes to transfer. Once the requests are approved, then each child has to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get their Certificates of Eligibility.

As far as transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits from one child to another, yes, your husband can do that even after retiring. He can revoke and reallocate to any of the children already having or have had benefits. However, he has to make the revoke/reallocate requests via a letter to the VA.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I receive this email from the VA this morning: “We will start accepting applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)on May 15th for training that begins on or after July 1, 2012. If you are an unemployed Veteran, you may be eligible to receive 12 months of training assistance equal to the full-time monthly payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). You must pursue a program approved for VA benefits offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to a high demand occupation and result in an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree or a Certificate. Don’t forget to sign up early as participation in the program is limited to a total of 99,000 Veterans with only 45,000 Veterans allowed to participate prior to October 1, 2012.

VA will publish more details on the program as they become available at our VOW website.

Thank you for your interest and please feel free to pass this message on to another Veteran.

Curtis L. Coy

Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs”

I”ll keep sending out information as I receive it.


Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I plan to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill to get my MBA next year. I know that it pays directly to the school and not to the student. I will be a full-time online student so I know I will only get the $672 to live on, which is not enough. What options do I have for supplementing my income while in school?

A: I just want to clarify something you said –“ I know that it pays directly to the school and not to the student.” The VA pays your school directly only for your tuition and fees if you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once each semester, you would get the book stipend paying $41.67 per credit and monthly the housing stipend of $673.50 being you go to school only online.

There is a simple way for you to get the full housing amount which will be around double what you would get by going to school just online. The secret is to take at least one class per semester on campus that applies to your degree plan. They can be just one-credit classes at a local school if you have some of those classes in your degree plan. The key is to be sure the classes you take on campus apply to your degree plan. Otherwise if not, the VA would not pay for the class and it would not count toward your full housing allowance.

To make other income, the easiest is to get a part-time job. Lower paying jobs are fairly easy to get and require little skill. If you are trained in something, go after something in your field.

Depending on if they are tuition-fenced or not, meaning dedicated to be used strictly for tuition, scholarships and grants can also be a good source of extra money. However, if they are fenced, then it won’t generate extra money as your GI Bill would pay less. Non-fenced money would add to your income as it isn’t offset by the VA.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good morning! I have 6 months and 28 days remaining on my Post 9/11 GI Bill that I haven’t used yet. I wish to transfer this to my spouse. I entered active duty Army 11/03-11/07Army Reserves: 07/08- present. My current STRAP US ARMY officer obligation ends DEC 2015, just short of 4 remaining years…. can I add a few months on and transfer these benefits to my spouse? Thanks!

A: If you are within four years of reaching your 20-year mark, then you don’t need a full four years left on your enlistment to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. You just have to ensure your current enlistment takes you up to the 20-year mark at the time you make your transfer request or do an extension that takes you up to retirement.

It looks like you meet the six-year past service requirement, so once your enlistment/extension is in place, then go to the milConnect website. Once inside, you will see your spouse’s record.

Just enter in the number of months you wish to give her. After you submit the request, keep coming back around 8 to 10 weeks later and look for the status to have changed to “Request Approved”. Once you see that happen, then your spouse can go to the eBenefits website and request her Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e.

When she enrolls in school, she will need her certificate so her school knows she is using Post 9/1 GI Bill benefits.

When she starts using her benefits, her tuition and fees should be paid directly to her school by the VA and she will get a book stipend once each semester and a housing allowance once each month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have received an other-than-honorable discharge for drug abuse which is entirely false, but dealing with it none-the-less. I have served 7 years and have never reenlisted so technically I am still on my first term. Does this still mean I don’t qualify even though I paid my money and served over 6 years honorably?

A: Yep, that is what it means. If this had been your second enlistment and your first one had ended honorably, then you would be eligible to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill benefits, but being this is still your first enlistment, you will not. How long you served and whether you paid your money into the GI Bill or not has no bearing on you being able to use your GI Bill if you have an other-than-honorable discharge.

However, it sounds like you think the reason for you getting the discharge may not be right. If so, and you have the documentation to prove your case, fight it. You can start by submitting DD form 293 to your service branch Discharge Review Board. It can take up to a year to hear back with their decision and there are no guarantees, but it is an avenue of appeal if you feel you have been wronged.

If their decision comes back disapproved, you can appeal it one step higher by filling out DD Form 149 to the Military Corrections Board of your service branch. If they disapprove your request, then that is the end of the line.