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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I transfer my Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 Bill? I retired from active duty Army in Oct 2009 with 20 yrs. of service. Can I transfer from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 so my children can use it for college and if so, how and where do I do that?

A: You can transfer from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. In return, you get a Certificate of Eligibility that you would need when enrolling in a school as a GI Bill student.

The bad part is you can’t transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your children. If you were eligible, I would have suggested a different route that would have automatically switched you to the New GI BIll and transferred benefits to your children.

The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, you have to be serving at the time you make a transfer request, have served for at least six years and have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of the transfer request – unless you are within four years of being retirement eligible. Then the additional four-year requirement is prorated down depending on how many years you have left until you hit 20 years of service.

It is too bad you did not know this before you retired as you could have made a transfer request before you got out as the New GI Bill started on August 1, 2009, but the eligibility goes back to September 11, 2001.

So if you never used any of your GI Bill, you should have 36 months you can use. Just keep in mind your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits do have a limitation. They expire 15 years from your last date of discharge.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have transferred some of my benefits to my children. If I have transferred less than an “academic year” (9 months), how much will the VA pay? Will they pay the full $17,500 (he’s going out of state) plus the housing allowance times the number of months (let’s say it is 4 months) plus the $1,000 for books, or will it be some prorated amount for tuition and books based on these 4 months. I guess I am really trying to understand how VA pays for college tuition and fees. Thank You for your help.

A: The VA pays Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits by the semester or until the benefits run out, whichever comes first. So if you are only transferring a semester’s worth of benefits at a time, they each would get 4 months of full benefits, if you are at the 100% level on your Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you were a Reservist or National Guardsman at less than the 100% tier, then your children would also inherit the same percentage that you have.

I do want to clarify for readers the statement you made about the $17,500 because he is going out of state. The $17,500 per year applies to students going to foreign and private schools. So if your son is going to a public school out of state, the VA would pay the resident rate. He would then be responsible for difference between the two rates. If he has 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and his school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA, then he could possible get some help paying the difference from his school and the VA.

Also for those four months, each child would get the housing allowance and book stipend. The housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of the school and the number of credits taken. Each has to be considered a greater-than-half-time student to qualify for the housing allowance. The book stipend in calculated at $41.67 per credit, which for a full-time student comes out to be about $500 per semester.

I’m not sure why you are “drip feeding” your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your children. It would be much simpler to give each child what they will need and then revoke and reallocate as necessary at some point down the road.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: how do I convert my GI Bill over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill? I enlisted in 2001 right after the attacks.

A: It’s easy – all you have to do is submit one form. Go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return you will get an updated Certificate of Eligibility showing the months of benefits you have left to use.

If you have not used any of your Chapter 30 benefits, then you would have 36 months to switch over. If you previously used some of your Chapter 30, then you will get the same number of Post 9/11 GI Bill months of benefits as you had left under Chapter 30.

One other perk to this New GI Bill; if you switch over all 36 months to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you get your $1,200 Chapter 30 contribution fee back as part of your last housing allowance. Pretty cool huh!

Also, I want to make you aware that if you use up all of your Chapter 30 benefits first, and then switch to the New GI Bill, you can get an additional 12 months of benefits. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined months of benefits is capped at 48.

So it can come down to choosing between the higher payout under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the additional months of benefits, but you can’t get both.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a Texas Vet and mobilized Army Reservist using TA to finish my master’s degree while I am on active duty. I want to continue on into a Doctoral program, but TA won’t pay above master’s degrees. Can I use Hazelwood Act (150 hours) towards a PhD?

A: You could, but not while you are still serving. The Hazelwood Act is a veterans-only program. Just be sure you meet the requirements to use your Hazelwood Act once you are off mobilization orders, which are:
• Have been a Texas resident upon entry into the military, entered into active federal duty in the State of Texas, or declared Texas as his or her home of record at the time of entry into the armed forces as documented on his or her DD Form 214;
• Have a military discharge of honorable or general, under honorable conditions;
• Served at least 181 days of active duty service (excluding training);
• Not be in default on an education loan made or guaranteed by the State of Texas and not in default on a federal loan if that default is the reason the student cannot use his or her federal veterans’ benefits.
• And the newest requirement is you must live in Texas at the time you use your Hazelwood Act benefits.

You might have one other option though. Depending on how long you have been on active duty, you most likely have at least some or maybe all of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you can use while on active duty or after you get out. And it does cover up through the doctoral degree.

To get the minimum or 40%, you must have served on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation for at least 91 days. Three years of orders get you to the 100% mark. It is worth looking into.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello I entered the Army on January 4, 2000 and paid in to the GI Bill. I am currently using it and I run out of Chapter 30 benefits on January 4, 2013. I will have around 5 classes remaining to earn degree and will be around $7,000 from exhausting monies. I was told in order to receive full benefits from Post 9/11 GI Bill, I would have to exhaust all monies. I need some help on this issue.

A: It is true. To get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you first have to expend all of your Chapter 30 benefits. To make the switch, send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. The key to making this work is to make your effective date in Part II Block 9F well after you have used your last Chapter 30 months and days.

The change should be seamless on your end. By submitting your form, the VA will see you are running out of Chapter 30 and want to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As your Chapter 30 ends, your Post 9/11 GI Bill will start. When you get your new Certificate of Eligibility, it most likely will show less than 12 months. That is because the VA “loaned” you some benefits to keep your payments coming.

Depending on how long you served after September10, 2001 will determine your percentage tier. It takes three years on Title 10 orders after the September 10th date to get to the 100% tier. The tier percentage is what percent the VA would pay for your tuition, housing allowance and book stipend. You would be responsible to pay the difference unless you are at the 100% tier and your school has the Yellow Ribbon Program. If so, you may get some help paying the difference.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband transferred all 3 yrs. of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to me before our divorce. He is currently deployed & will be returning in May, and I will be returning to school this fall. Am I entitled to the BAH I received before he went to Iraq, or is that for dependents only? What benefits other than tuition can I still receive as a divorced spouse?

A: You won’t get the BAH you were receiving before the divorce anymore due to you the fact that you are no longer listed as one of his dependents. However, you would get the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance (which is different from actual BAH, although you see people referring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance as BAH, which it is not).

The New GI Bill housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. Depending on where your school is located, you could get less than the average of $1,200 per month if you go to school in the Midwest to more than double the average if you go to school on either the East or West Coast.

If you decide to go to a public school, the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school. If you decide to go to a private school, then they would pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition and fees. Regardless of whether you go public or private, you still would also get the book stipend once each semester calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 per year limit).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am contemplating enlisting in the Marines. I have a bachelor’s degree, but may want to get a different degree down the road. Would military educational benefits cover me getting another degree?

A: Yes it would. Once you enlist in the Marines, and get though boot camp and your specialized training, you will start gathering months of eligibility toward the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the New GI Bill is free and does not require any monetary contributions.

Approximately ninety days after you get to your first duty station, you will be at the 40% tier. As you gain months of eligibility, you will increase in tier percentage; after you hit the three-year mark, you will be fully vested in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, meaning you will have 36 months of benefits you can use at the 100% tier.

Because you did not use your GI Bill to get your bachelor’s degree in the first place, you could get another bachelor’s degree or continue on and get your master’s degree or even a doctorate. If you would have used your GI Bill to get your first bachelor’s degree, then you would have to get your master’s in a related field, but since you did not, you can get it in anything you want.

Also, because you will be on active duty, also look into using the Marine’s Tuition Assistance Program (TA). It can help pay for your degree and save your GI Bill benefits to use after you max out your TA benefits or once you are out. It is free money you are leaving on the table if you don’t use it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello my name is Jarrod and I’m about at the end of my initial 3 1/2 year active duty contract and of course I have to fulfill the other 4 1/2 years with IRR. I’m thinking about getting out and going back to school to finish up my undergrad degree. I basically have 2 questions for you. The first question is that once I finish up my bachelor’s degree can I use whatever I have left over to help pay for the cost of a master’s degree. The second question is how do you find out exactly how much of the GI Bill that you have left over? — Jarrod

A: The easiest way to find out how much GI Bill benefits you have left is to request a new Certificate of Eligibility. You can do that by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.

As far as how much you have left, it can depend on which GI Bill(s) you have. If you signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you first came in and paid your $1,200 contribution, then you probably still have benefits left under that GI Bill. However, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which can get you some additional benefits.

If you have either GI Bill, then you started out with 36 months of benefits, however, if you have both GI Bills, you can get up to a total combined benefit of 48 months under the Rule of 48.

To get the 48 months though, you first have to use up all of your MGIB benefits and then switch over to the New GI Bill. You got 36 months under the MGIB and would get an additional 12 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. But, if you switch to the New GI Bill with months of MGIB left, you only get the same months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under the MGIB and not the additional months.

The advantage of switching with benefits left is the higher pay-out under the New GI Bill. Plus, when you have used up the last of your switched benefits, you get a prorated amount of your MGIB contribution back.

If you declined the MGIB when you enlisted, then you start out with just 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. The benefits you have left you can use until exhausted or until you hit your GI Bill delimitation date(s).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have two questions. Would I have to do additional years of service if I were to transfer my GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and give it to my child? My next question is does the 9/11 bill covers trades, such as cosmetology school?

A: As far as if you would have to do additional years of service, it depends on how many years of service you have now. The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules read, you have to have served for at least six years and agree to serve for an additional four years, unless you are within four years of being “retirement eligible”. If so, then the number of additional years would be prorated down to a lesser amount depending on how many years you have left until you hit the 20-year mark. So if you are already there, you wouldn’t have to do any additional time.

Should you meet the eligibility requirements and decide to make a transfer request, go to the TEB website and enter into your child’s account the number of months you wish to transfer. Once your request is approved, then s/he can go to the eBenefits website and request his/her Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. The child will need that certificate when enrolling in school.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill now does cover trades, including cosmetology school. Since the implementation of GI Bill 2.0, the Post 9/11 GI Bill almost mirrors the old Montgomery GI Bill as far as the training it covers.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi Ron, I guess we fall into that category where you can’t transfer GI Bill benefits to dependents after separation. My husband retired 31 Dec after serving for 30 years. (we are waiting for his disability rating now. It should be high after being shot in the leg and injured due to suicide car bombing but probably not 100%). Though one of his children received approx. 2 years of benefits, he had no idea that he had to transfer the remaining benefit to his youngest son while he was still on active duty. Of course, nothing was ever said to him about this. His son is autistic (high functioning) so his getting loans is doubtful. Anything new on the S3447 bill front? We are heartsick about his and feel as though our government pulled a fast one. Not a nice feeling after 30 yrs. of loyal Infantry service. Thank you.

A: The bad news is S3447 is dead. Not only did it not pass, it never had enough support to even come to a vote. I hear this a lot – servicemembers not knowing they had to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while still serving. Evidently this in not one of the topics covered in TAP briefings.

I would think as long as we have had the Post 9/11 GI Bill, this fact would be in the briefings by now, but for some reason the word just isn’t getting out. The services are doing their members a great disservice by not expounding on that fact, but almost three years into this New GI Bill and this front has not changed.

What I never understood is why Congress wrote the benefit transfer rules the way they did – must be serving “on or after August 1, 2009”. I realize the intent of the transfer option was to use it as a reenlistment incentive, but you would have thought they would had provided some option to make a transfer for those who got out without transferring benefits (or all benefits in your husband’s case).

While it won’t help out you or your husband, I have started a petition that if approved would allow career veterans retiring before August 1, 2009 a one-time opportunity to transfer benefits. These veterans, although fully qualified for the transfer benefit, never had an opportunity to make a transfer request due to the fact they got out before the Post 9/11 GI Bill started. If approved, my next effort will be trying to help those who didn’t know they had to transfer benefits before getting out.