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

Q: I applied for Post 9/11 benefits on 15 Dec 2011. I want to transfer at least half of these benefits to my son who is now enrolled in technical college. What is the time frame for approval of my application and what is the process for transferring these benefits to my son. Thanks.

A: First, I have to ask how did you “applied” for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits? And my second question is “Are you still serving?”

So you are probably thinking how these two questions are related to your issue. Well, if you are not still serving, then you can’t make a transfer request to your son. According to how Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” and agree to serve additional time, to get a transfer request approved.

If you applied for your Post 9/11 GI Bill by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website, then I’m thinking you are already out of the military.

If you are still serving, go to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website and enter in the number of months you would like to transfer to your son. Once submitted, you will see the Status Block change to “Pending Review”. Keep checking back periodically (it can take up to 10 weeks) and look for a status change to “Approved”.

Once that happens, then your son needs to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get his Certificate of Eligibility that he will need to give to his school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I started school on December 13th by online classes Full Time in my Master’s program. I have 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill. How do I apply for the housing assistance? Does the school automatically contact the correct people when they bill for tuition? I’m so confused on where I’m supposed to go or who I’m supposed to contact. Thank you!

A: The housing assistance will come automatically, but it is usually after-the-fact meaning the VA is normally a month behind in paying it. When you enrolled as a Post 9/11 GI Bill full-time, online-only student, your school sent in your Certificate of Eligibility and a Certificate of Enrollment, so the VA knows you enrollment status.

As an full-time, online-only student, you will get $673.50 per month in housing allowance. The VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school, and you will also get a book stipend once a semester (up to the $1,000 per year limit), which brings me to my question for you – why is your school billing you for tuition?

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA will pay your tuition if you are attending a public school up to the resident rate. If you are attending a private school, they will pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition. Normally if you attend online, there isn’t the resident/non-resident issue, so your tuition should be covered.

If it is not for some reason, inquire if your school is a Yellow Ribbon school and if your program is covered by their agreement. If it is, your school can pay up to half of the difference between what the VA pays and what your school charges. The VA pays an equal amount which leaves you with very little left to pay.

You might already be doing this and it just so happens your school is not a Yellow Ribbon school or their percentage of pay is low anyway; if you are not doing this, it won’t hurt to ask or look at changing to a school that is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I contribute to the $600 “buy-up” program for the MGIB? I went to my education center and they gave me DD form 2366-1. I don’t know what to do next. Thanks.

A: If you really want to pay into the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Buy-Up Program, you will have to fill out the form they gave you and hand it to your Unit Administrator in your Orderly Room. They will enter it into the pay program and a certain amount of money will be taken out of your pay until you have paid in the required $600.

However, are you sure you want to do that? The reason I ask is the Buy-Up program can’t be used with the Post 9/11 GI Bill and in most cases the New GI Bill pays much better than the MGIB.

For example, the MGIB currently pays $1,473 per month if you attend full-time. The Buy-Up program would pay an additional $150 per month ($5,400/36 months). So you would get $1,623 per month for 36 months and you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses and still have money to live on.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school and you get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 per year limit). On average, the housing allowance runs about $1,200 per month – twice that amount if you are going to school on either the East or West Coast.

In most cases using the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay you more, plus if you switch to it with all 36 months of benefits left, you get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back once you have used up your last month of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve seen several answers to this question, but please help me clear it up: If my entitlements run out mid-term do they continue until the end? If so, does that include MAH and tuition? Thanks!

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are using. If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) then yes, you will continue to get your monthly payment to the end of the semester or until 12 weeks after you run out of eligibility, whichever comes first. Once you reach the end of the semester or the 12-week mark, your money stops.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition is paid and you get your monthly housing allowance and book stipend until the day your eligibility runs out. Then it stops.

Under both GI Bills, if your reach your delimitation date – the date your benefits end, which is 10 years from your date of discharge for the MGIB and 15 years for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your money also stops instantly. That is mandated by Congressional law.

If you are eligible for both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can use up your 36 months of MGIB entitlement and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of entitlement. That way, you don’t have a break in benefits and the money keeps coming in.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question involving MGIB, Post 9/11 GI Bill, and the student loan repayment program. I raise this question as the responses I’ve received to this point have been rather ambiguous. My situation: I joined the Army in 1996, served 4 years active and used the MGIB in full to pay for my undergraduate degree. I continued on with a graduate degree, paid for with student loans.

Upon reenlisting with the OCS option in 2008, I was informed that I didn’t qualify for the MGIB or the Post 911 GI Bill since it’s a 1 per lifetime benefit. That being the case, I requested the student loan repayment program and was informed that since I had already used the MGIB, I didn’t qualify for that either.

Since returning to active duty, I’ve realized that some SMs in fact do receive both the student loan repayment program, covered by their initial 3 or 4 year enlistment, then qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, covered by their subsequent term of service. I’ve talked to some who advised me that I’ll have 12 months remaining on my MGIB that can be transferred to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, since I used 36 months and qualify for 48 months.

Question 1 is how can I confirm this?

Question 2 is why wouldn’t I qualify for the student loan repayment program being that my initial term of service, used to qualify for the MGIB has already been served? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

A: I’m always amazed at the misinformation that is out there, but I’ll do my best to separate fact from myth.

Fact: You only get the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) once and you can have 36 month of MGIB benefits that one time. Since you used them all up getting your undergraduate degree, your MGIB is dead as far as educational benefits is concerned.

Fact: You can’t get the GI Bill and Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) for the same time period. Once you sign up for the SLRP, you instantly incur a three-year obligation in which during those three years you are not acquiring GI Bill eligibility, so those who told you they were on an initial three-year enlistment and getting both incentives were blowing smoke up your backside. You could get both on a six-year enlistment though as the first three years would “pay back” your SLRP obligation and the second three years would qualify you for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in full.

Normally, if you are going to use SLRP, you sign up for it during your initial enlistment. Some service branches offer it from time-to-time as a reenlistment incentive, but it may not have been available you when you reenlisted.

Fact: Even though you had the MGIB-AD and SLRP, you would still qualify for 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To use your additional months of benefits, submit VA Form 22-1990 to get your Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school.
These facts should have answered all your questions concerning the MGIB, SLRP and Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and have been offered a job in Germany (as a contractor working at Coleman Barrack). I’m enrolled with Park College and I’ve got three more classes to go to obtain my Bachelor’s degree. Can I continue taking my degree with Park (online) and still qualify for the full benefits (tuition and VHA)? Also, I would like to keep going to school and pursue my Master’s degree, most likely with Park, and I’m wondering if the benefits would be available there also? Thank you much for your attention.

A: You can continue your schooling online for as long as you have Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly benefits left and if Park College offers the classes you need online. Keep in mind that you most likely only have 36 months of benefits, which is enough for a four-year degree.

Not all courses or programs they offer may be offered online. Some programs, such as engineering and the sciences, require labs which you must do on campus, so it can be dependent your bachelor’s or master’s degree focus. If your school offers them, you shouldn’t have a problem taking the courses you need.

However the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance pay structure is different between taking on campus, online only or online/on campus mix. If you are a full-time student taking all online classes, your monthly housing allowance will max out at $673.50. That amount was established by implementing the GI Bill 2.0; before that, an online only student didn’t get any housing allowance. With on campus only or on campus/online mix, you would get the full amount.

Everything else about using the Post 9/11 GI Bill will be the same – the VA will pay your tuition directly to your school and you will get a book stipend once each semester, along with your monthly housing allowance.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is an active duty Army soldier, having served for 4 consecutive years. When his 6th year is up, we’ll move to California and go to a public school together. He will pursue his Bachelor’s degree, while I will enroll in law school for a Juris Doctorate degree. So my question is, will both of us be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? He will go to school for 4 years full-time, and I will go to school for 3 years full-time. My law school’s yearly tuition is around $45,000. Would my husband’s GI bill cover all the expenses of THAT MUCH tuition? Thank you so much. I would really appreciate it if you can email me with the reply. Thank you.

A: First, if your husband is going to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you (and it sounds like that is the expectation being your asked if his GI Bill would cover your yearly tuition), he has to serve six years AND agree to serve an additional four years before he could get a transfer request approved. It sounds like you have expected to get benefits from him after he completes his sixth year and gets out; that is not the case.

Second, your husband will have 36 months of GI Bill eligibility. That is enough for a four-year degree by attending nine-month academic years. It will not be enough for both of you to go to school for a total of seven years.

Thirdly, under the new Post /11 GI Bill rules, the VA will only pay up to $17,500 per year if you attend a private school, or the full resident rate for a public school (which you indicated is what you will be attending) in the state of your residency including up to the doctorate level.

If you have to pay out-state tuition, then you might also want to look into a school having the Yellow Ribbon Program and ask if your program is included is their agreement with the VA.

If it is, I think the best use of your husband’s GI Bill benefits would be to transfer his 36 months to you (once he is eligible) and have his GI Bill pay your tuition being it is more costly than what his will be, but it would mean him serving an additional four years of service.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is the use of the GI Bill used for the year you go to school, or is it used per semester? If I went in spring, summer, and fall, that would be considered 3/3 or a whole year? I’m asking because I know it’s good for a 4-year college, and you have 15 years to use it. I understand that if I went spring, summer, and fall, that’s TECHNICALLY a full year, therefor my 4 years, would now be down to 3 years left, and so on as I continue to use it till it runs out. So….. if I went spring and fall ONLY that would be 2/3 of the year meaning:2 out of the 3 semesters would mean that I still have 1 semester left per year (because i didn’t go in the summer)Do they reduce the years every 2 semesters, or every three semesters? I know its a VERY weird way of putting it, but I thought I would ask. Who knows maybe someone else is wondering the same thing?

A: You are right – it is a weird way of asking the question, but the answer is simple. GI Bill eligibility use for most schools is calculated by the days in a semester and your rate of pursuit. Some schools use the quarter system or clock hours and their calculation is slightly different.

Your 36 months of GI Bill eligibility is enough to get a four-year degree if you go to school for nine-month academic years taking two semesters per year. However, you can expend your 36 months of benefits in two and two-thirds years if you go three semesters per year. Either way, you have enough eligibility to end up with a four-year degree if you use your benefits wisely.

The above calculations are based on taking enough credits to be considered a full-time student. If you go to school full-time, you use up 30 days of benefits for each month you are in school. If you go part time, you use up less than a full month of benefits each month. For example, if your school considers 12 credits to be full-time and you are only taking 7 credits, then you use up 17.5 days for each month of school.

Regardless of how you use it, you will have enough time to be able to use up the full 36 months or 1,080 days. However, how long it takes you to use up those days will be determined by if you are full-time or not and by the number of semester per year you attend school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am retired but have transferred my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my son – 100%, 36 months. My son will be submitting the transfer of entitlement benefits to VA when he turns 18 on January 2012. How long will it take to receive the certificate to submit to the university? I am concerned due to the slow VA process that we will not have the paperwork available for the school to approve him for the yellow ribbon program in April. He will be starting college in fall 2012.My second question is ” Does the 36 months mean he will be covered for at least four academic years of tuition (8 semesters of four months/semester).

A: It can take up to 10 weeks to get his Certificate of Eligibility (COE), so if he applies for his COE right after his 18th birthday, he should have it by April in time to apply for his school’s Yellow Ribbon Program.

As you know, each school having a Yellow Ribbon Agreement states in that agreement how many students they will accept into the program, the percentage they will pay and the programs that are included in their agreement, so registering as soon as he has his certificate is probably a good move.

If your son will be going to a public school in his state of residency, he won’t need the Yellow Ribbon Program as all his tuition and applicable fees will be paid in full. However, if he will be paying out-state tuition, or attending a private school, the Yellow Ribbon Program will help pay what the Post 9/11 GI Bill will not. Under the new rules, the VA will only pay up to $17,500 per year to attend a private school.

With the Yellow Ribbon agreement, a school can pay up to 50% of the difference between what the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays and what the school charges. The VA will pay an equal amount. This leaves little to nothing left for him to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was a Marine killed in action March 23, 2003 in Iraq. We have 2 sons together. After all the healing and putting my families lives back together, I feel I am ready emotionally & physically to start college for myself. I’ve heard his GI Bill has expired after so many years and is not available to me any longer. I should make it clear I have not since his death remarried. Do you know if this is true that it’s too late for me to use his educational benefits?

A: First, please accept our condolences for your loss. You can take comfort in knowing he served his country well. As far as answering your question, you won’t be able to use your husband’s Montgomery GI Bill, because it never had a transfer of benefits option to it and you wouldn’t be able to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill because in 2003, had not started yet – it wouldn’t start until August 1, 2009. However, all may not be lost.

Under Chapter 35 – Survivor’s and Dependent’s Education Assistance Program, you most likely have 45 months of eligibility that you could still use to go to college. Under a change in 2004, you now have up to 20 years to use your Chapter 35 benefits – increased up from the original 10 years which would have put you in a bind on time being you are already into the eighth year.

Because of the change, you still have over 11 years left to use up your benefits – more than enough time to a four-year degree. However as another option, you could look at taking a 12 to 18 month training program at a vocational technical school and get Chapter 35 to pay for it. You would then still have time and months of eligibility left to continue on to a four-year degree later if you wish.

You mentioned that you have not remarried. Under Chapter 35 rules, if you remarry before age 57, your Chapter 35 benefits end. After age 57, they continue on.

Should you choose to use your Chapter 35 benefits, it currently pays $957.00 per month to go to school and you have to pay all your own education expenses.