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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am qualified for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the new GI Bill. I have used about half of my old GI Bill and am considering changing to the new GI Bill since it would pay me more. But I read that if I use all of old GI Bill, I can get another 12 months of new GI Bill. Can I convert now and get the 18 months I have left plus the additional 12 months or do I have to use the old GI Bill completely first?

A: The way the GI Bills are set up, you have to use up all your Montgomery BI Bill GI Bill (MGIB) benefits first, then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months of benefits. I know it is goofy, but those are the rules.

Since the GI Bill 2.0 change in August, the Post 9/11 GI Bill almost mirrors the old MGIB as far as what each pays, so unless you are at the 60% or less Post 9/11 GI Bill tier, you most likely would be better off using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

If you use your remaining MGIB benefits, you would get $1,473 per month and you have to pay your own tuition, fees and other education-related expenses. If you switch to the New GI Bill with 18 months of your MGIB left, the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school. You will also get a housing allowance almost as much as your MGIB payment, plus you’ll get a book stipend once each semester calculated at $41.67 per credit.

The housing allowance averages $1,300 per month across the U.S. If you attend school on either the East or West Coast, it can be twice that amount. So it comes down to whether you want the higher payout or the additional 12 months of education benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi! My husband enlisted in May 2010. He has already paid for the MGIB and the Army college incentive fund. I’m curious to know how this will be paid after he attends online college full time especially the college incentive fund. Is housing allowance available for these? And how will it be disbursed? Thank you so much in advance.

A: I understand paying the $1,200 contribution for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), but he should not have paid anything for the Army College Fund; that is a no-cost incentive when enlisting.

Just so you know, whatever amount he was quoted for his college fund, normally also includes the MGIB amount, so he may want to look into using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The New GI Bill is the newest GI Bill in the inventory and doesn’t require any monetary contribution as does the MGIB.

Once he serves three years, he will qualify at the 100% level for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, meaning he will have 36 months of benefits he can use where his tuition and fees will be paid in full if he goes to a public school and he will receive a monthly housing allowance and once each semester get a book stipend.

If he serves for at least six years, and agrees to serve an additional four years, he would qualify for the transfer option where he could transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you.

The MGIB does not have a housing allowance connected with it – just the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under the MGIB, he would receive $1,473 per month and have to pay all his own education expenses including tuition. Under the New GI Bill, he would get his tuition and fees paid and get almost as much in housing allowance as he would in total under the MGIB. Also, if he switches his MGIB benefits to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and once he uses up his 36 months, he would get his $1,200 MGIB contribution back.

Regardless if which GI Bill he uses, his Army College Fund would be paid as a monthly benefit and should be around $150 per month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I attend college on my father’s GI Bill? He has been in the military since I was born in 1994 and still active duty now. I’m not sure what bill he has exactly but I know he has been in the military for quite a while. Now here’s the catch, we don’t talk PERIOD! He has a new family, but doesn’t do much for me and I’m depending on his GI Bill to attend college. What do I do? And what if he doesn’t approve? Please reply ASAP! Thank you!

A: This will be difficult, because you HAVE to talk to him and plead your case as to why you need his help to go to college. If he has never done anything for you, now is a good opportunity for him to make up for it.

First, you have to still be still listed in DEERS as a dependent of his, because he can’t make a transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits you if you are not. So if he cut you out of DEERS, this is the end of the story. However, if you are still listed in DEERS as one of his dependents, then the decision whether to make a transfer or not is his choice as he is the only one that can make a transfer-of-benefits request to put months of benefits into your account.

If you can talk him (or shame him) into doing it, here is what he has to do. He must go to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website and enter into your account the number of months he wishes to transfer to you. He has a total of 36 months to work with if he has not previously used any. Once he submits the request, the Status Block will show “Pending Review”.

After 8 to 10 weeks, he needs to check the TEB website again and look for the status to have changed to “Approved”. Once that happens, he needs to tell you that because then you have to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, you will get a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

All he has to do is make the transfer request and tell you when it is approved, if you ask him for help, but he most likely won’t do it on his own if you do not ask (and he may not even after you ask him). This will be awkward for both of you , but it might also be the catalyst to help mend your relationship with him.

It would be a great gesture on his part to help you with your college education, but if he will not, don’t despair. There are many sources of scholarships and grants available – you just have to search for them and apply.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is this: in 2004 I received a completely honorable discharge from the Army. Later, I re-enlisted and I am now expecting to receive a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Am I still eligible for the old GI Bill, New GI Bill or both? Thank you very much for your time.

A: Your first term of service ending with an Honorable discharge locked in your GI Bill benefits, so don’t worry about that. You could be eligible for both the New and old GI Bills, but you would have had to sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you first enlisted. Do you remember doing that and having $100 per month deducted from your monthly income for the first 12 months you served? If so, then you have the MGIB. If not, then most likely you do not have the MGIB.

Having served after September 10, 2001 and up to sometime in 2004, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but depending on when you got out in 2004, you may be at a lesser tier percentage than 100%. It takes three years of service to get to the 100% level.

The New GI Bill is free and does not require a contribution as did the MGIB. But, just so you know, if you do have both GI Bills, you will be subject to the Rule of 48. Under that rule, you can only get a combined maximum number of months of 48 if you qualify for two or more GI Bills. With either GI Bill alone, you would get 36 months.

So assuming you have both, you can either exhaust your 36 months of MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional one-year of benefits, or switch right now to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with your 36 MGIB months intact. The advantage of switching now is to reap the higher payouts under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but then you would not get the additional 12 months of benefits.

If you attend a public school using the Post 9/11 GI Bill , the VA pays your tuition up to the resident rate and you get a monthly housing allowance that is normally more than what you would get under the MGIB, plus under the old GI Bill, you have to pay tuition. Also, if you switch now, you would get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back once you have used up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 3 children is it possible to split the MGIB between the 3 of them?

A: No it is not possible and here is why – the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) does not have a transfer-to-dependent-children option to it. However, if you are still serving, have served for at least six years, and agree to serve for an additional four years, you would be eligible to make transfer requests based on the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

If you meet the above Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer eligibility requirements, just go to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website and enter into each child’s account the number of months you wish to give to give each one. You should have 36 months you can split up, so each one could get 12 months for example.

Once you submit your requests, keep coming back to the website and watch for the Status Block to change to “Approved”. Be patient as it can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change.

Once approved, each child has to go into the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, each one will get his/her Certificate of Eligibility, which each will need when enrolling in school as GI Bill students using transferred benefits.

I went through this process because many servicemembers have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but don’t know it. It is a great education benefit for the servicemember and can be an even greater education and financial benefit when they qualify to pass it on their children.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to know if I can use my husband’s GI Bill. He was in the Navy for 7 years and 1 year in reserves. He got out in Dec. 2007. We live in Texas. Texas was his home of record. I will attend online if possible.

A: With your husband getting out two years before the Post 9/11 GI Bill started, he never had a chance to make a transfer of benefits to you. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, he had to serve for at least six years, agree to serve for an additional four years, and still be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make and get approved a transfer request.

And if he has the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), that won’t work either as the Navy’s MGIB never had a transfer-of-benefits option to it. The Army and Air Force each tested MGIB benefit transfer programs as pilot programs briefly, but both dropped their programs due to non-participation.

It is unfortunate that your husband possibly has 48 months of benefits from two GI Bills and up to 150 semester hours of Hazelwood Act benefits, and can’t transfer any of it to you.

However, you should also be glad you don’t qualify for his Hazelwood Act benefits, because if you did, it would mean he was either killed in the line of duty or is totally and permanently disabled as a result of a service-connected injury or illness. There are better ways to get money to go to school and it is out there, you just have to do some research work to find it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father was honorably discharged in March 2003. He has offered his MGIB for my college tuition but I am confused about the qualifications of the Post 9/11 Bill. It states that for transferability to occur my father must be active duty and have served after 2011. Can someone please help clear up the confusion? He has the benefits but can they be transferred?

A: If you father has the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), he can’t transfer his benefits because the MGIB does not have a transfer option to it. As far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it does have a transfer-to-dependents option, but your father would have to have been serving on or after August 1, 2009, and agree to serve an additional four years, to make a transfer request. So while your father does have both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill, he can’t transfer any benefits to you.

However, if he could have successfully made a transfer request to you, once the transfer request had been approved, by the request status block changing from “Pending Review” to “Approved”, then you would have had to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get your Certificate of Eligibility that you would have needed to use your transferred GI Bill benefits.

However, don’t let the lack of GI Bill benefits stop you from going to school. Where there is a will, there is a way. There is plenty of scholarship and grant money available if you dig for it. Every year, lots of money goes unused because students don’t apply for it. It takes some work to get, but anything worth working for is worth getting.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My son just got out of the Marines after four years active duty. He is not going to college, but his spouse is enrolled in a pre-nursing college program. Can she use his GI benefits and if she can, will this reduce his benefits if he decides later to go to school?

A: Unfortunately, she cannot use any of his benefits. Why? The way Congress wrote the rules for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he would have to have served for at least six years on active duty and agree to serve another four years at the time of the transfer request, meaning he would have to still be serving at the time of the request.

So because he did not meet the six-year service requirement, and of course he did not agree to serve for another four years (because he got out), he can’t make a transfer request and get it approved.

But, he does have 36 months of benefits that he can use to go to school. As far as if his spouse would reduce his benefits by using some of them, yes, she would. With only 36 months of benefits and if he would have been able to transfer let’s say 18 months to her, he would only have 18 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits left that he could use.

Some people are under the impression that each person get a full 36 months, but his is not true – each servicemember is only authorized one 36-month block of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Me and the fiance are apart right now. She is stationed in the states as I’m stationed in Europe, though we are ETS’ing at about the same time. We plan to move to my home state and use the Post 9/11 GI Bill there at a house together. I was wondering, if BAH is $1,400 for us separately, could we both use it in a total of $2,800 a month combined for housing? Or is there some hidden regulation about that, as I haven’t been able to find any straight answers for it.

A: I can give you a straight answer. Because each of you have your own GI Bill, each of you are entitled to your own Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, including separate housing allowances.

I’m not sure it will be $1,400 each though, as it is determined by the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. If you have checked the BAH Calculator for your school’s zip code and it showed an E-5 with dependents gets $1,400, then that would be the amount you would get if you are taking enough credits to be classified as a full-time student. If you are taking less credits, then divide the full-time monthly amount by the full-time credits and multiply by the number of credits you are taking.

You will also each get a book stipend once each semester calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 yearly cap). And of course the VA will pay both your tuitions directly to your public schools or pay up to $17,500 per year if you attend private schools.

The amount of your tuition paid by the VA could be different from your fiancé though, if she is not a resident of your state. If not, the VA will pay up to the resident rate and she will have to pay the rest or possibly use the Yellow Ribbon Program if she qualifies for it and her school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is it possible to go to two different schools under the G.I. Bill and apply those credits to a degree that I want?

A: Yes it is possible, but you have to use a specific process to make it work right. First, your school that will be awarding your degree is called your parent school. The other school you will be attending is known as your secondary school.

You have to discuss with your parent school what courses (and probably why) you want to take at your secondary school. These are the only courses the VA will approve for you to use your GI Bill to take at the secondary school and all classes will apply toward your degree plan at your parent school.

Your primary school will send your secondary school a letter stating which classes you will take. Once you have finished taking those classes, your secondary school will transfer those credits to a transcript and send it to your parent school. Your parent school will apply the transcript credits to your degree plan.

The usual reasons for taking classes at another school are classes filling up quickly at the parent school or classes not offered as night courses at one school that are at the secondary school. But it is possible to attend classes at two schools if you follow the above procedures and only take classes that apply to your degree plan.