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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My son enlisted in the Navy as of February 15, 2011. His one year will be accomplished soon. I was wondering if the New GI Bill will cover any student loans that were acquired prior to his enlistment. Thank you.

A: There are two separate issues here. First, the New GI Bill cannot pay for student loans. It is an entirely separate program and can only be used to pay for new schooling. Second, to get student loans paid for, your son would had to have signed up for the Student Loan Repayment Program at the time he enlisted. The repayment program is slightly different among the different service branches.

At the time he enlisted the Navy was paying up to $65,000 over a three-year period. How that works is each year, the military member has to submit DD Form 2475 on each eligible student loan. Many sign up for the program, but either don’t know or forgot about the requirement to submit the annual paperwork. So time goes by and they are upset because nothing was paid on their loans.

For the New GI Bill, your son will have to serve at least two years before he could use his Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, he will also have Tuition Assistance that he can use while in the Navy. Once he can start using his Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he could also use the Tuition Top-Up Program to help pay any tuition costs over what TA will pay. But he will have to wait for another year before he needs to worry about using that program.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m on my last month of entitlement for MGIB chapter 30. How do I go about getting a 12 month extension or so I have heard this rumor? If true please tell me who I need to call to get this extension started. Second question… I am able to change schools if/once a extension was granted? Thanks!

A: I’m assuming you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill by having served for at least 90-days on active duty. To get your extension, you don’t call anyone. You can either download the form, fill it out and send it in, or fill it out online and submit it.

The form number is you need is VA Form 22-1990. To either download or submit it online, go to the eBenefits website. Once your request is processed, you will get back a Certificate of Eligibility showing how many months of eligibility you have left to use.

As far as changing schools, yes you can do that. It requires submitting a different form, but it is on the same eBenefits website. That form number is VA Form 22-1995 Request for Change of Program or Place of Training.

I do not suggest doing both at once; it causes too much confusion. Request your additional months of eligibility first and once that transaction is complete, then submit the change of place of training. Hopefully, you have enough time to make all that happen before you need to start school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is this: my son has two more years of high school and I choose to transfer most of my post 9/11 GI BILL to him for collage, how do I get started, how do I apply or where do I get this information, I’m active army and will have the adequate time to serve for this to happen, can you help me on these steps? Thank you!

A: First, you have to still be serving (which you are) and have served for at least six years. Then you have to agree to serve an additional four years., unless you are within four years of being retirement eligible, then your additional time would be prorated down to a lesser amount.

Once you meet the current and future service requirements, then go to the TEB website and enter into your son’s account the number of months you would like to give him. You can give him any or all up to the number of unused months that you have. If you have not used any, that would be 36 months.

Once finished, you will see the Status Block change to “Pending Review”. Keep checking back and look for the status to change to “Approved”. Be patient as it can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change.

Once that happens, then your son has to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, he will get back a Certificate of Eligibility. He will need to give his school a copy of that certificate when he registers for college as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Recently I posted a blog on another site where retiree John asked if there was a group that could help him transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to his dependents. As we all know there is not. Also, we know there have been a couple pieces of legislation that if passed, would have allowed it. However, not only did the legislation not pass, neither one ever came up for a vote; subsequently both pieces expired once they reached their time limits.

I decided to start a petition on behalf of all eligible veterans who retired after December 10, 2001 but before August 1, 2009. Because these vets retired before the “magic” date of August 1, 2009, they never had the opportunity to make a transfer request.

Now is your opportunity. If you want to try and get this wrong righted, sign the petition.

You can read the preamble of the petition which gives the background information and defines the veterans in each affected group, if you are not already aware of the situation. The petition part reads:

“We, the undersigned, call on the President of the United States to initiate a Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer-of-Benefits equality and fairness initiative to 20+ year retired military veterans, in both groups as defined in the Preamble, retiring between and including December 10, 2001 to July 31, 2009, by allowing them a one-time opportunity to transfer unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependent family members.”

You do not have to be in one of the affected veteran groups to support this petition. I can’t guarantee it will be successful, but it is obvious this thing isn’t going to resolve itself, so let’s take it to the Commander-in-Chief and see what happens.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post are solely those of the blogger, not necessarily those of www.armystudyguide.com and/or its owner, QuinStreet Inc.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was told that my son would qualify to have his student loans repaid if he scores above a certain score on his entrance exam. But I am confused by this because he doesn’t graduate from high school until May so he obviously doesn’t have student loans as of yet. How would this work? Would he have to do something after he is finished with college then fill out the necessary paperwork? I have heard it’s for existing loans but was told that is for Active Army and that for the reserves it is a little different as long as he scores 50 or above he qualifies. I was also told he could get MGIB benefit monthly to help pay for his school. Is this true? Thank you for any help you can give this confused parent.

A: What he is being told about the Student Loan Repayment Program is true for the Reserves, however, it should be apparent to whomever is telling him that he isn’t eligible for the program if he plans on going active duty. The active duty Student Loan Repayment Program is only for those who have eligible Federally-insured college loans at the time they enlist. If he is still in high school, he obviously doesn’t have student loans and would not qualify for the program – they shouldn’t even discuss it with him. All they are doing is confusing both you and him. If he plan on going in the Reserves, then he could use it for student loans he acquires after enlisting. They are two separate programs even though they are titled the same – I know, it is confusing, but welcome to the military!

Just so you know, there are two Montgomery GI Bills (Yes I know, could they make it any more confusing!). If he was going on active duty, he would qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty after paying in $1,200 in MGIB contribution.

But because it sounds like he is joining the Reserves, he would qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves, which doesn’t have a required contribution. When they start throwing figures around, be sure you and him both know which GI Bill they are referring to as there is a world of difference in the pay structure between the two Bills. The one for the Reserves and National Guard pays $345 per month to go to school; the one for active duty pays $1,473 per month. With both there are 36 months of education benefits.

One more thing – if he went on active duty, he would qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill which does not cost anything. The only way he can get the Post 9/11 GI Bill in the Guard or Reserves is if he goes on a deployment on Title 10 orders. A total of three years of Title 10 orders would get him 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill which much better than either of the MGIBs.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if I can add more money to my MGIB benefits, because I have about 11 months left, and I will be able to physically go to school starting this fall. However, I prefer to switch to the Post 9/11 so I can use the housing stipend when I relocate for new school. Is that possible?

A: If you are still serving, the military does have such a program where you can add more money to your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – it’s called the Buy-Up program. You can contribute anywhere from $5.00 up to $600.00, however, the monthly increase to your MGIB will be proportionate to the amount you contribute. If you kick in the full $600, you would get a $5,400 boost in education benefits. The part I don’t know is if you can contribute to this program with only 11 months of your MGIB left.

And if you can, don’t do it if you are considering changing to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, because the Buy-Up program cannot be used with the New GI Bill, so you would lose whatever amount of money you put into it.

Just so you know, if you switch with 11 MGIB months left, that is all you will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, if you first exhaust those 11 months and then switch, you will get an additional 12 months of benefits.

You will have to work the numbers, but you may be better off using your 11 MGIB months and then switching to capture the additional 1 year of benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is my son eligible for GI Bill benefits? He served one successful 4-year enlistment in the Marine Corps. (18 months as a corrections officer and then by request became a machine gunner, infantryman.) He then reenlisted and served for 3 years but was discharged in November, 2011 with a less than honorable discharge, I’m not sure which one. He got in trouble several times, all alcohol related. He will not claim PTSD as a cause of his alcohol use.

A: With one successful 4-year enlistment, his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are safe and he can use them to go to school. Because he served for at least three years after September 10, 2001 and has at least one three-year term ending in an Honorable discharge, he has the full 36 months that he can use to get a four-year degree by attending four 9-month academic years.

You said “He will not claim PTSD as a cause of his alcohol use” or rather abuse. This can be similar to the debate on which came first – the chicken or the egg. Was your son abusing alcohol before he was deployed? From your question, it seems like he started getting into trouble after his first 4-year enlistment. My point is if he was abusing alcohol before he deployed, PTSD might not be the cause of his alcohol issues.

Has he been diagnosed with PTSD? If he doesn’t have it, then alcohol is probably the source of his trouble. If he does have PTSD, then he needs to get help addressing the issues it is causing. If he has been diagnosed, abusing alcohol is only going to add to his PTSD troubles.

Either way he needs help – either for alcohol addiction or PTSD (or both). There are some pretty messed up veterans as a result of our two wars, however, many are unwilling to get help, seeing it as a sign of weakness and something they can solve on their own.

I know you are trying to help, but until he is ready to face his issues and get help, you won’t be able to force him to go. This is something he has to figure out on his own and it will probably end up being painful for him. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt anyone else before he decides to seek help.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I have currently served 2 years of a 4-year active duty enlistment with the U.S. Air Force. I plan on participating in the Palace Chase program and joining the Air Force Reserve after 3 years (fulfilling the Post 9/11 GI Bill’s 36 month requirement for 100% benefits). The question I have is if I can still use the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits I received from my active duty service immediately or will I have to wait until my time in the Air Force Reserve is up? Will being in the Air Force Reserve hinder me from using these active duty benefits in any way?

A: No, going into the Air Force Reserve will not impact you using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at all. You can start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill immediately after you get off of active duty. But, you don’t have to hurry using them. You have 15 years from your date of discharge from the Air Force Reserve to use your 36 months of benefits.

As you probably know, by going to a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA will pay your tuition and eligible fees up to the resident student rate all the way up to and including doctorate programs.

If you are planning to go to a private school, then they will pay up to $17,500 per year. If you are paying out-state tuition or your private school tuition exceeds what the VA will pay, you will either have to pay the difference out of pocket or use your school’s Yellow Ribbon program if they have one.

Under the Yellow Ribbon, your school can pay up to half of the costs not covered and the VA will pay an equal amount. Ask first though, as not all schools include all programs in their VA Agreement and some schools are not affiliated with the Yellow Ribbon program at all.

Plus you will get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once each semester (up to the $1,000 per year maximum).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I signed up for the GI Bill in 1996 when I enlisted. At that time I believe it was worth $30,000. I will retire at 20 years in four more. How much will it be worth in total at that time?

A: If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill, which is what you had in 1996, it is worth $53,028 right now. On average over the last four years, the amount it pays has increased about $50 each year. Assuming that rate continues, in four years, it will have went up another $200 or up to $60,228. If you have a kicker or bought into the Buy-Up program, it would be even higher.

However, you will also be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under that GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition and eligible fees in full if you attend a public school. Go to a private school and they would pay up to $17,500 per year.

In either case you would get a monthly housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. The average monthly housing allowance right now is $1,200 per month. I can’t predict where it will be in four years from now as it fluctuates with housing and rental costs. In 2010 and 2011, it dropped for the Atlanta Zip Code. In 2012, now it went up.

Taking the safe assumption that it doesn’t go up, that would be $1,200 in your pocket, plus the book stipend up to $1,000 per year. So your housing allowance and book stipend would be worth $46,200 plus whatever tuition and fee costs the VA would pay. That amount could be as high as $52,500 ($17,500 X 3 years). So all in all, it could be worth $98,700, if you attended a private school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Mr. Kness, I am a member of the Alabama National Guard and I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. I have used all but 17 months of my Montgomery GI Bill and I plan on finishing my degree when I get back home. To my understanding, I will be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I was trying to decide which route for me would be best. Stick with the Montgomery GI Bill for the remainder 17 months (using my Tuition Assistance I am assuming is my best option to pay for tuition?) OR switching over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill immediately and forfeiting the rest of my MGIB. What is your recommendation? Thank you!

A: The best way to answer your question is to do a pay comparison of both GI Bills. Under the MGIB, you would get $1,473 each month you are in school for your remaining 17 months, totaling up to $25,041. Out of that amount, you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses, plus have money to live on.

If this is your first deployment (and it sounds like it is), then assuming it is for one year, you would be eligible for 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill meaning the VA will only pay your school up to that percentage amount for tuition, and you for your housing allowance and book stipend.

So if you were to convert those 17 months over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, 60% of your tuition and fees would be paid, you would get 60% of the monthly housing allowance authorized for the location of your school and based on the number of credits you are taking each semester.

Right now, for zip code 30303 (Atlanta) the authorized full amount is $1,149. Sixty percent of that amount comes up to $689.40. Your book stipend would be up to $600 per year (60% of the authorized $1,000). The VA would pay up to 60% of your tuition and fees. The other 40% would be your responsibility to pay.

Assuming your per credit cost is $250 and you are taking 12 credits ($3,000), your part of the tuition would be $1,200 per semester. During that semester, you would get $2,757.60 (assuming 4-month semesters) and $300.02 in book stipend.

Under the MGIB, you would earn $5,892 during the semester and have to pay out $3,000, plus book costs of let’s say $300 (the same amount you would have received in a book stipend) and would end up netting about $2,600 per semester. But, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would net about $1,800 per semester. So at 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill would be a better option for you.