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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served 4+ years in the Army. During that time I opted for the College Loan Repayment Program. Now I’m trying to use my post 9/11 GI Bill to attend a language school. The VA has sent me a certificate of eligibility but for only 60% of the tuition. Their reasoning is that the time I served during my CLRP does not count toward my GI Bill time. I was wondering what particular law this applies to? Also, I’m considering appealing their decision. Just wanting to know how long this appeal process can take? My course starts up in June. Thanks.

A: You can appeal if you want, but it will be a waste of your time as you will not win. When you signed up for the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) you incurred a three-year obligation. During those three years, you do not acquire GI Bill eligibility. You can’t get the GI Bill and CLRP for the same three year time period.

So your eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill did not start until after your first three years had lapsed. So the VA was right in sending you your Certificate of Eligibility at 60%. At 60%, it means you served for at least 12 months, but less than 18 months after your CLRP obligation was satisfied.

If you do decide to appeal, it can be a long drawn-out process and like I said, you don’t have a chance of winning, so my advice is to accept your 60% and drive on.
If you want to bump up your eligibility to 100%, you would have to reenlist back on active duty for somewhere around 17 to 24 months or join the Reserves or National Guard and go on two one-year deployments on Title 10 orders in support of a contingency operation.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to attend Arizona State University with the 9/11 GI Bill. I want get my BS in Aeronautical Management Technology (Professional Flight). The flight training costs $68,088 in addition to tuition. The only thing I can find as far as the 9/11 GI BILL goes is that it pays 100% of tuition and fees for public schools. Will the GI Bill pay any or all of my tuition and fees? I see that ASU is a Yellow Ribbon School so obviously 100% of tuition is not paid. Any light you can shed is greatly appreciated.

A: You are correct. Because you are in a degree producing flight training program, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay 100% of your tuition at the resident rate, meaning the tuition an Arizona resident would pay. If you are a non-resident, then most likely all of your tuition would not be covered.

And that is where the Yellow Ribbon Program comes in. For out-state or private school students, the Yellow Ribbon program can help pay the difference between what the school charges in tuition and what the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay. Depending on your school’s agreement, they can pay up to 50% of the difference and the VA will pay an equal amount, so in theory, your tuition is covered.

However, most likely the bulk of the additional $68,088 will be your cost to pay. The VA pays tuition and other eligible fees, fees that your school classifies as normal and customary and that it charges most students. If some of those fees are included in your additional amount, they may be paid for by the VA. Most likely, the aviation specific charges will not be covered.

However, it could be worse. If you were in a non-degree flight training program, the VA would only pay up to $10,000 per year in tuition, but because you are taking the degree-producing route, more of your costs will be paid for. Taking the four-year degree route shows the VA you are serious about doing this for your career and not pursuing it as an avocation.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: After the end of this term I have 7 days of benefits remaining. At one point I thought my benefits ran out during this term so I called the VA to see what would happen. I believe what they told me was that if I had any eligibility left at the beginning of a term that the entire term would be covered. I still have one more term to go. Does this mean that my next (and last) term will be covered by my Post 9/11 benefits? What happens with those 7 days of benefits if the entire term is not covered?

A: It sounds like you are currently using the Montgomery GI Bill. If so, then once your 7 days run out, you will continue to receive benefits until the end of the semester or for 12 weeks, whichever is less. However, if you had already exhausted your MGIB and only had 7 days of your Post 9/11 GI Bill left, that would not be the case. Once you were out of benefits, your payments would end.

But since you have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, then you are still covered, but the amount of time from when you run out of MGIB benefits until the end of the semester will be deducted from your additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. However, that will still leave you with plenty of benefits to cover you for your last term.

You do have to send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website to change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Just make sure your election date of when you want your New GI Bill to start is after your 7 days of MGIB have run out. On your end, it will be (or at least should be) seamless.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my wife. I will have five years in service in February 2012. I have already reenlisted for four more years, is there an Exception to Policy or Waiver available since I have not reached the six year minimum requirement? If not, am I going to have to wait until I reach six years and then reenlist for one year? Does the transfer have to be approved before the start of the class?

A: There isn’t an exception to the six-year rule that I know of, so you will have to wait until February 2013 before you will be able to make a transfer request of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your wife. As you know, you have to have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time you submit your transfer request. Once you have that in place, then you can make a request at the TEB website.

The transfer has to be approved before the start of the class if you want the VA to pay for her tuition and for her to get the book stipend. For the VA to pay, her Certificate of Eligibility and the school’s Certificate of Enrollment have to match up. Her certificate shows how many months of approved eligibility she has. The school’s certificate shows she is enrolled and for how many credits. Without her certificate, she will have to pay tuition.

Assuming she has not received her certificate yet at the start of the semester, she can go back (up to one year) to her approval date and request reimbursement. However, it is “cleaner” and causes less confusion to get her certificate first before enrolling in class.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve been in the active Army for 15 years and paid the $1,200 for MGIB. I want my wife to finish college but also want to save about a year left of money for my retirement. What are my options?

A: With the Montgomery GI Bill, you most likely don’t have any options to transfer educational benefits to your wife. The Army and Air Force each ran a transfer-of-benefits pilot program, but then both stopped due to lack of interest. In the Army’s program, soldiers had to buy the transfer right out of their re-enlistment money and the transfer could only be to a spouse, so if you had bought into that program, you would most likely remember it.

The best way to accomplish a transfer of benefits to your wife is to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You meet the first transfer of benefits service requirement of having served more than six years. Ensure you have the future service requirement – agreeing to serve for four additional years – in place before you make a transfer request. Otherwise your request will be disapproved.

You have up to 36 months of benefits you can transfer. So once you have your enlistment out to at least having four years left, go to the TEB website and enter into your wife’s record how many months you would like to transfer to her. If you want a year left for yourself, then transfer 24 months to her.

Once the transfer is complete, by the Status Block changing to “Approved”, then have her submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. In return, she will get a Certificate of Eligibility that she will need to hand a copy of to her school when she enrolls as a GI Bill student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, my daughter has been utilizing my husband’s GI Bill benefits for tuition and housing allowance at a private university. Last year, her freshman year, the benefits were paid at a higher rate, but this year she was subject to the cap–$14,000 in her case, because she’s eligible at the 80 percent rate. The VA paid the entire $14,000 for the fall term, and she received housing allowance during that term. My concern is this: will she continue to receive the housing allowance for the rest of the year–winter and spring terms–even though her VA benefits have been used toward tuition in one term? I haven’t seen her housing allowance yet, so I’m concerned. Thanks for your help.

A: You are right. Before the GI Bill 2.0 change, tuition for private school students was paid at the resident public school in-state rates. After the change, private school tuition was limited to $17,000 per year, or in your daughter’s case, 80% or $14,000. But because she used up her yearly amount in tuition in one semester, she (or you) will have to pay all of her tuition for the other two semesters.

I can’t say for sure, but I don’t believe she will get the housing allowance or book stipend for the other two semesters either. If she maxed out on tuition, I’m assuming she maxed out on the other Post 9/11 GI Bill pay features also.

If each semester of her tuition is costing a year’s worth of what the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay, I think I would be looking at transferring to a different school. Unless her school specializes in something very unique and not taught elsewhere, I would think she could get just as good of an education at a lot less expensive school. With the money it is costing, I hope the end result is worth it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am medically retiring from the AF, effective in 20+ days. I applied for the Post 9-11 and initiated a TEB application. I received a reply from AFPC stating “Sir, you are currently unable to fulfill your ADSC. Please extend your enlistment so that you can fulfill your commitment, and then we can process your application. I am medically retiring, of course I’m unable to fulfill. But I should still be eligible after serving 17+ years, correct? Besides, I was briefed in TAPS and multiple other agencies to include the VA and the Ed Center that I was eligible. A search online revealed this blurb from a Career Counselor:”Yes, if the SM is being medically retired and trooper can not fulfill the SRR, the SM can still participate in TEB. The obligation end date will be the date of retirement.”What are the facts? I want to TEB to my spouse prior to my actual retirement date. After that date, I will not be eligible to. Please Help me with this.

A: To answer your question “But I should still be eligible after serving 17+ years, correct?”, if you are basing it on that premise alone, no you are not correct. The Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefit rules state you have to have served for at least six years and agree to serve an additional four years, unless you are “retirement eligible” meaning you have served for 20 years. If you within four years of being retirement eligible, then the four year requirement is prorated down to a lesser amount and is dependent on how many years you have left to serve until you hit the 20-year mark. At 17+ years, you would have to extend for another 2 to 3 years.

Now the medical part of it could shed a different light on it. You may fall under the policy of “Has at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or selected reserve) on the date of election, is precluded by either standard policy (service or DoD) or statute from committing to 4 additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.” Due to your medical condition, you would be precluded from committing to an additional four years.

But, because the VA only saw that you did not have the required time left on your enlistment at the time your submitted your TEB, they disapproved it. They had no way of knowing you were going out on a medical. You should have contacted them before you submitted your TEB request. Now there may not be enough time to get everything done before you are out.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Recently received my Certificate of Eligibility for Ch 33 benefits – 14+ months remaining as a result of previously utilizing 21+ months of Ch 30 benefits. I intend to use my remaining Ch 33 benefits to attend law school, which will likely require 24+ academic months over a 3 year period. My question – will I be eligible to apply for 12 additional months of Ch 33 benefits (bringing the total number of months of VA education benefits utilized to 48) when I exhaust the remaining 14+ assuming I have not yet completed my course of study or law degree? If not, why not? If so, what’s the process? Thanks in advance for your assistance.

A: If you do it the way you outlined it in your question, you will not be eligible for the additional 12 months of entitlement. The Post 9/11 GI Bill rules are very specific. To get the additional time, your election date when you intend to start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits has to be after a time when you have already exhausted your Chapter 30 benefits. If you switch with Chapter 30 benefits left, as you have done, you will get the same number of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement as you had left under Chapter 30.

As a matter of fact, this issue is discussed in Part II, 9F of VA Form 22-1990, which is the form you use to transfer from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The exact wording is “If you elect chapter 33 in lieu of chapter 30, your months of entitlement under chapter 33 will be limited to the number of months of entitlement remaining under chapter 30 on the effective date of your election. However, if you completely exhaust your entitlement under chapter 30 before the effective date of your chapter 33 election, you may receive up to 12 additional months of benefits under chapter 33.”

So because you already switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB benefits left, you won’t be able to get the additional 12 months of benefits. I know, it makes no sense why it has to be done this way, but that is what is specified in the rules.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I already have my B.S. however the graduate program I am trying to get into requires some pre-requisite classes that weren’t required for my B.S. I am currently working on them now and would like to take some of them at a different university than my home university. How do I go about doing this? I am using my Chapter30 benefits at the moment.

A: What you are trying to do falls under the parent/secondary school agreement. Under that agreement, your school that will issue your degree is the parent school. The other school where you want to take classes is the secondary school. You have to coordinate with your parent school the classes you want to take at your secondary school and why you want to go to school there. It is normally because those courses fill up quickly at your parent school and you can’t get into them or when they are offered doesn’t fit into your lifestyle schedule.

Once in agreement, your parent school sends a list of the classes you will take to your secondary school. After you complete those classes, your secondary school issues a transcript to your parent school. Then your parent school transfers the completed courses to your degree plan, thus completing the process.

Know that you are limited to taking just the courses specified by your parent school at your secondary school. Also know the VA will not pay for classes that are not on your degree plan, but generally they will pay for pre-requisites needed to take classes on your degree plan.

If you do this smart, your Chapter 30 GI Bill will work well. If not, you will end up with a mess and may end up having to pay for classes out of your pocket. Coordination with your parent school is the key.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m the child of a soldier who I believe is covered by the GI bill and I was just wondering if there was any way him and I both could be covered by the GI bill?

A: I’ll say yes, initially provided he is still serving and has the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why is that important? Because if he has the Montgomery GI Bill, it never had a dependent transfer option to it and two if he is not still serving, then he can’t make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request.

But the requirements go deeper than that, so if the answer to the two above conditions – still serving and eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill – are yes, then we have to look at how long he has served and how long he has left on his enlistment contract. The first service requirement is he has to have served for at least six years. The second part is he has to have at least four years left on his current enlistment at the time he makes a transfer request.

So assuming he has made it past those two gates, then he can go to the TEB website and enter into your record how many months of his remaining unused benefits he wishes to give to you.
Assuming he has all 36 months left, he could split it 18 and 18, meaning both of you could go to school for two 9-month academic years. The VA doesn’t care if he uses all 36 months or if he uses 18 and gives you 18 – it all totals up the same.