dcsimg
This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Do I have a choice between GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill? I served in the USAF from 19 Nov 1984 to 30 Nov 2004, so I’m eligible for 100% under the post 9/11 GI Bill. Another question, I don’t believe I ever paid the $1,200.00 into the GI Bill, would I have the option at this time to pay into that if the GI bill serves me better than the Post 9/11 GI Bill? Also, to get the Post 9/11 GI bill, would I have had to pay the $1,200.00? Thank you!

A: Because you are already out, you can’t buy into the Montgomery GI Bill, however, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is free. And if you had “bought” into the Montgomery GI Bill, and still had all your benefits intact, you could convert to the New GI Bill; after you had used up your 36 months of benefits, you would get your $1,200 contribution back as part of your last housing allowance payment. But since you did not purchase the MGIB, you will not have to invest any money to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you still get 36 months of benefits. How cool is that?

If you would have asked which GI Bill would serve you better before August 1st in 2011, I would have said it depends on your educational goal, as the two GI Bills paid for significantly different programs. But since GI Bill 2.0 went into effect, they almost mirror each other as far as the training each covers, but in most cases the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays much better, unless you are at less than the 70% tier.

Under the New GI Bill, the VA pays your school for your tuition and you get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once each semester. The housing allowance is based on the zip code of your school and how many credits you take. The book stipend is based on $41.67 per credit and does have a $1,000 yearly cap.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am an AGR Soldier, how do I transfer my GI Bill to my son who is starting school in the fall? Do I need to do anything to change to the Post 911 GI Bill? I served in Iraq in 2003-2004, do I need to buy into the program or am I entitled? Any information you can send me will be greatly appreciated.

A: As of October 1st, AGR soldiers are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As far as how many creditable years you have, your AGR time back to September 10, 2001 counts. Before October 1st, the fact that you served in Iraq for a year would have made a difference in your eligibility for the Post 9/1 GI Bill, but after GI Bill 2.0 implementation, it neither helps or hinders your GI Bill eligibility because you are already maxed out on years.

Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is free. And if you had paid into the Montgomery GI Bill, you would be able to switch over to the New GI Bill. Once you had exhausted your switched benefits, you would get your $1,200 contribution back.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits transfer process. First, you need to have served for at least six years either on Title 10 or Title 32 AGR which it sounds like you most likely have done. Next, you need to have a 4-year enlistment extension in place at the time you make a transfer request.

Once that is in place, then go to the TEB website and enter into your son’s record how many months of benefits you wish to transfer to him. Once the status changes from “Pending Review” to “Approved”, then he must go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, he will get his Certificate of Eligibility that he will needed when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in active duty Army from January, 2003-December, 2006. In 2007, I went to PSU for one semester on the Montgomery GI Bill. In 2008, I drove for a trucking company that offered the GI Bill Apprenticeship program, paying out $1,000 per month from my Montgomery benefits. Am I eligible to switch to the Yellow Ribbon, or have I used too much of the other?

A: The Yellow Ribbon Program is a part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not a GI Bill in itself, so what you really want to know is if you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. And the answer is yes, you are eligible for the New GI Bill.

As far as if you can switch or not, yes you can as long as you have at least one month of benefit left. The thing you have to realize is that you only had a maximum of 36 months of MGIB benefits to use. So if you switch, you will get the same number of months of Post 9/11 GI Bill and you had left unused under the Montgomery GI Bill.

Now let’s move on to the Yellow Ribbon program. Because you served for at least three years after September 10, 2001, you are at the 100% level, which is required in order to qualify to use the Yellow Ribbon program. Under that program, if you have to pay out-state tuition or attend a private school whose tuition exceeds what the GI Bill would pay, the school can pay up to 50% of the difference. The VA pays an equal amount, leaving you very little left to pay.

If you decide to switch, you can submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.In return you will get a Certificate of Eligibility that will show how many months of benefits you have left.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the process months of Post 9/11 G.I. Bill funding. I want to know if the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill restricts the number of certifications and courses that I want to take. For example, I can get a Master’s Degree in 15 months, a pilot’s license in 9 months, and a paramedic’s Certificate in 12 months. The Master’s degree is completely unrelated to the last two. Before I start pursuing this course of action, I want to know… Is this possible?

A: Most likely not. The purpose of the GI Bill is to train you in something you can use for a career. While the VA does allow for double majors or a major and a minor, they have to be related, so your paramedic certificate would have to be related to your Master degree before the VA would most likely approve it.

Your pilot’s license is another matter. Generally speaking, the VA will not pay for a private pilot’s license. They will however pay up to $10,000 per year if you already have a pilot’s license and decide to go for additional commercial pilot ratings. There are some pilot programs that include a private pilot’s license as part of their overall program, but not many so you will have to do some research.

So if you can get your private pilot’s license first, (at your expense or enroll in a program that includes it) and then select a career focus that ties your master’s degree, pilot training and paramedic training, you could most likely get the VA to pay for most of your classes. For example, if you pursued aeronautical medical evacuation, you could get a paramedic certification, pilot’s license and a master’s degree in nursing. There are several other combinations that would work also.

My recommendation is you consider your education goal carefully and make the best use of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. You have 36 months that you can use to create the career of your dreams – you will just have to think about it carefully and then present your plan to the VA for approval.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Retired from the Marine Corps in 2006 and never had the original GI Bill. Do I rate the Post 9/11 GI Bill and can I transfer it to my daughter?

A: The good news is you do rate the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you had at least three years of service, you have 36 months of benefits at the 100% tier that you can use to further your post-secondary education.

The bad news is however, you will not be able to transfer any of your benefits to your daughter. The way Congress wrote the rules, you had to serve for at least six years after September 10, 2001, agree to serve for an additional four years and had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request. By that time you had already been out for almost three years.

As far as using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you will have to request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. You will need to provide your school with a copy of your certificate when you register for school.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and you get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once each semester. The housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. The book stipend calculates at $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 yearly cap.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: “If you do not begin using the GI Bill benefits within 10 years of discharge from the service, under the old Montgomery GI Bill, they are lost.” Does this strictly reference discharge from active duty, regardless of reserve time, or does active duty time as a reservist add time to the 10-year clock? Example: Discharged from AD in 1998. Joined a reserve unit in 2001; served on active duty orders for eight months in 2003 and 16 months in 2006-07 and an additional few months, off and on, since then. The “rumor” is, any active duty time extends the 10-year limit. Please clarify. Thank you.

A: That is a true statement if you are referencing to the Montgomery GI Bill, however, what it does not say is the 10-year clock starts at your last date of discharge from the Armed Services of America which includes the Reserves of the different military branches and the National Guard. So as you can see, it does not only pertain to “active” duty, but duty in the Selected Reserves also. So, if you are in a drilling unit, it counts and your 10-year clock has not started yet.

But in case you don’t know it, you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With at least 24 months of active duty as a reservist, you already qualify at the 80% tier. With one more year of qualifying time, you would be at the top. And this GI Bill has a 15-year delimitation date.

One of the big advantages of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the transfer-to-dependents option. You already have the six years of service and if you agree to serve an additional four years, you could transfer benefits to your spouse and/or children if you are not going to use them yourself.

You have 36 months you can transfer and while they will inherit the same percentage as what you have, at least 80% of their college education would be paid for. That is huge, if you have priced colleges lately. So that is definitely worth looking into.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear Sir, I am trying to figure out how I can transfer my Montgomery GI Bill to my sons who are college age. I retired in Aug. of 2008 and have been told I am not able to transfer at this time – is this fact? If so who is championing the fight to allow persons like me to transfer in Congress so I can write to them. Thanks for the service your providing to all Vets.

A: The Montgomery GI Bill does not have a transfer-to-dependents option to it, so you couldn’t transfer that GI Bill if you wanted to. However, the Post 9/11 GI Bill does have a transfer option where you could have transferred benefits to your sons, however, now that you are retired, you can’t.

When Congress wrote the New GI Bill, they were focused on using it as a re-enlistment tool, so you had to have served for at least six years, agree to serve another four years, and to make a transfer request, be serving “on or after August 1, 2009”, meaning once you retired, you could no longer make a transfer.

There have been a couple pieces of legislation during the past few years that would have allowed career retirees retiring between December 10, 2001 and July 31, 2009 the opportunity to make a transfer request. However, not only did neither of them pass, neither even had enough support to come to a vote.

I have started a petition that addresses this issue. If you would like to read it over and decide if you would like to support it, that would be great. This issue doesn’t seem like it is going to resolve itself, so I thought I would try this route. It would not hurt to contact your Congressional representation and let them know how unhappy you are with this issue and ask for their support.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the process of enlisting in the Army and I have 8 classes left until I will have my degree. I am trying to figure out what route I need to take before I sign my enlistment contract. I.E. Student Loan repayment, G.I. Bill, Tuition Assistance and Green to Gold. Especially, the student loan repayment because I was told by my recruiter that as of January 1, 2012 they no longer have that program?

A: You will get Tuition Assistance anyway by joining the Army. You will be able to use TA after you complete Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training. It pays up to $250 per credit with a $4,500 yearly cap which is enough for 18 credits per year.

I just looked on the Army’s website and they are still showing the Student Loan Repayment Program as an education option and I have not heard they were eliminating the program, so I’m unsure what your recruiter was talking about.

However, if you pick SLRP at enlistment, you incur a three-year obligation meaning during that time, you do not acquire eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill because you can’t use the same time period for both incentives. If you enlist for six years, you could get both – three years for SLRP and three years for the GI Bill.

The GI Bill can tie in with TA through the Tuition Top-Up program or you can use your GI Bill benefits it for an advanced degree once you are out. The Green to Gold option will only apply if you plan on becoming a commissioned officer and that is not a decision you need to make at the time you enlist.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is almost finished with his AA in Psychology. He will be transferring to a four year school and majoring in Art. This semester he is taking two psychology classes and one art class. We were told that the Post 9/11 GI Bill would cover his two psychology classes, but not his art class since it doesn’t count towards his degree. This will make him ineligible for any housing allowance. We’ve heard conflicting information and I haven’t been able to find this documented anywhere. Is it true?

A: Yes it is true. The purpose of the GI Bill is to train a veteran in something s/he can use to earn a living. So in support of that philosophy, the VA will not pay for classes that are not on a degree plan. Otherwise, veterans would be taking classes here and there and end up not being trained in something they can use to earn a living.

As you know, he has to take at least 51% of the number of credits his school considers to be full-time to qualify for the minimum housing allowance. His art class does not count because it is not on his degree plan, so he will not get a housing allowance this semester – meaning on average (and assuming he is on 4-month semesters), he missed out on $2,652 if he would have been at the 51% level – $5,200 if he was at the full-time level.

I don’t know what your husband’s educational goal is, but I suggest he focuses on his degree plan and maximize his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. For the benefits he used up this semester, all he got out of it was paid tuition for two of his classes and some book stipend money. If all his classes counted would have counted toward his degree plan, he could have also received the housing allowance also.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have just completed my 20th year in the military on Jan 17, 2012. During my military career, I have used the Montgomery GI Bill 1606 and 1607. I am currently stationed in Afghanistan for a year and I want to know will I be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) is Chapter 1607 for those who may not be familiar with it. It is the forerunner to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so if you are authorized REAP, then you already have some Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation time already.

So your time in Afghanistan will add one year to that time. If your current deployment was the only Title 10 time you had, you would be at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. But since you had prior time, you are most likely higher. It takes three years of deployed time to get to the 100% level. So add your deployments together for your total time. Each 6 months of time above your initial 6 months of eligibility bumps you up another 10%

However, you will also fall under the Rule of 48. If you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, you are capped at a combined maximum of 48 months. So depending on how much time you used under 1606 and 1607, subtract that from 36 and that is what you will have left under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

But, to get your additional 12 months to bring you up to your 48 months maximum, you would first have to exhaust one of your other GI Bills and then switch to the new one. My advice is to switch with what you have left and enjoy the higher payout of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.