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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am going back into the Reserves after a long hiatus. I was originally under the old VEAP program. Will I be eligible for the new GI Bill?

A: Initially, no you will not. The only way Reserve and National Guard servicmemembers can qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill is if they deploy on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Afghanistan. A typical one-year deployment would get you to the 60% tier. You would need at least a 90-day deployment to get you to the minimum of 40%. The way the war looks right now, you probably have a good chance to deploy in the next couple of years.

If you did not use any VEAP entitlement, then you would get 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement once you qualified. If you did use VEAP, then the number of months you had used would be deducted from the 36 months authorized.

If you never used your VEAP, you should look at getting the money out of it that you put in. You can request your money back by submitting VA Form 22-5281 from the eBenefits website.

If you sign up for a six-year hitch in the Reserves, you would qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves. While it doesn’t pay much, currently $345 per month for a full-time student, when you combine it with your Reserve pay and tuition assistance (if your Reserve branch offers it), it can add up to a tidy sum. That would be a GI Bill you could use until (or if) you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to know if i apply for the POST 911 GI BILL would still rate Montgomery GI BILL or do i sign away my right to the Montgomery GI Bill Thank you for your time.

A: If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you lose your Montgomery GI Bill benefits as the switch is a one-way street – irrevocable and impossible to switch back. But switching to the New GI Bill can be very lucrative. For example, if you switch with all 36 months of benefits intact, once you exhaust them, you can get back your $1,200 MGIB contribution. If you come over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with less than your full 36 months of benefits, then the amount of contribution you get back is prorated to a lesser amount.

Or you can use all of your MGIB benefits and then switch and you get an additional 12 months of education benefits.  Due to the recent GI Bill 2.0 change, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is now functioning much like the MGIB except in most cases it pays much better.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: After my deployment to Iraq, I got on board the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) program. Does my time as AGR also qualify me for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: It does, but if adding in your AGR time increased your Post 9/11 GI Bill percentage, you can only collect back-pay back to August 1, 2009, the date when the Post 9/11 GI Bill first started.

As you already know, you picked up some Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility by deploying to Iraq. A typical one-year tour will put you at the 60% tier level. If you have a couple of years of AGR Title 32 time, then you should be at the 100% mark.

The change that allowed AGR time to count for Post 9/11 GI Bill purposes, came about when the GI Bill 2.0 went into effect, however you couldn’t claim benefits acquired under the AGR program until October 1, 2011.

Regardless of whether you have enough time or not to get 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, once you have six years of service and agree to serve an additional four years, you can access the transfer option and transfer some benefits to your wife or children. Just know the transfer recipient inherits the same percentage as the sponsor.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently in the Army (active) going through IET in AIT, so I am not permanent party yet. I originally wanted to opt for the Student Loan Repayment Program, but found out in Basic Training that I was signing for a G.I. Bill. Despite not wanting the G.I. Bill, I was told that I could not switch to the loan repayment program at that point, so I signed for the G.I. Bill feeling like that was the only option I had at that point. So my question is can I switch from the G.I. Bill to the SLRP before I enter permanent party?

A: The Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is something you sign up for at your original enlistment or at reenlistment, if the option is available. So if it was not offered at the  time you enlisted, then it wasn’t an option for you to accept. Just so you know, the same period of time cannot be used for both SLRP and GI Bill. In other words, the three year obligation you would have incurred by signing up for the SLRP would not apply towards GI Bill eligibility.

To answer your question, no you can’t switch to SLRP at this point in time. What you may be able to do is sign up for SLRP when your reenlistment window opens. Just be sure to keep up with your student loan payments as the SLRP will not pay loans in default. And not all loans are eligible for the loan repayment. Generally only ones that are federally insured.

So find out if your loans qualify for SLRP and then ask about it at your reenlistment. That is about the only option you have at this point.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have applied for and had my request approved to transfer my Post 9/11 Bill Benefits to my children. I am required to serve 3.75 more years to fulfill my service requirement and also to reach my retirement. My oldest child should be entering college next fall (2012) and if I didn’t want him to use the benefits until his last 1-2 years(of the 4) because I want to be sure I can fulfill my service requirement, should he wait until right before he uses the benefits to get his Certificate of Eligibility or should we go ahead and do so after he graduates from high school next May and hold on to it until he is to use it? Also if my child was to use my benefits and for whatever reason I could not fulfill my service requirement as stated when I was approved, what would happen to the benefits? Would he lose all benefits and be required to pay back anything he has used so far? Thank you for your time!

A: You can do it either way to get your son his Certificate of Eligibility; however, I would recommend him submitting VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website right way and here is why. I would get it right away as a hedge of future Post 9/11 GI Bill changes. Right now, we don’t know what changes will occur in the future. By getting his certificate now, he could potentially take advantage of “grandfathering”, if changes do occur.

Beside the reason you gave for him using his certificate during the last one or two years of his school (ensuring you can fulfill your obligation), he will make better use of his GI Bill benefits as education costs seem to be rising every year, with no real change in the trend within the next foreseeable years.

If your child does decide to use them early in his school career, and you can’t fulfill your additional service requirement, then he will lose whatever unused benefits he has left and will have to repay what benefits he used – another good reason for him to wait to use his benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: After I ETS, how long will it take for me to receive my GI Bill?

A: It somewhat depends on when you apply. If you were to do it now, it most likely would take longer, because the VA always gets behind in processing applications during the Fall Term.

This time of year it could take up to 8 weeks to get, however, most of the rest of the year, it shouldn’t take that long. Regardless of when you get out, if you have as much percentage as you are going to get, I would apply now. That way you may have your Certificate of Eligibility by the time you get out.

To apply, send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. Once you have your certificate, then you can enroll in school. Your school will send in a Certificate of Enrollment on your behalf once you are registered.

After the VA processes your paperwork they received from your school and paperwork from all other schools, then they start the payment process and you will begin receiving your GI Bill payments. So realistically, it depends on how many applications the VA receives and how long it takes them to process them. Once all applications are processed, they start the payment process, so it could take up to a couple of months before you see your first payment.

If you will be using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA will pay your school directly for your tuition and fees. You will get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend. If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you get a monthly amount and you have to pay all your own education expenses including tuition, fees, books, etc.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I recently got married and was wondering if I could transfer some of my GI Bill towards wife’s student loans? Also, if she decides to continue her education, can she receive my GI benefits? Thanks.

A: You don’t say if you are still serving or not, but if you are and you meet the service requirements, you can make a transfer request and give your wife any amount of your unused benefits that you want.

Before you can access the transfer option, you need to have served for at least six years and agree to serve an additional four years. If you are already discharged, then you cannot make a transfer request. The way Congress wrote the rule, you had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009”.

As far as transferring some of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to help pay off your wife’s student loan, I’m afraid not. The GI Bill can’t be used for that purpose. Even if you had the Student Loan Repayment Program, you could not use it to pay your wife’s student loans as they have to be your loans.

If you don’t qualify to transfer benefits to your wife and you can’t use your GI Bill to pay off  her student loans, you might as well use them yourself instead of letting them expire and not getting anything out of them.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My father has been in the military for about 15 years now and is still active duty in Korea at the moment. I am 21, living on my own and recently decided to attend college. I was wondering if there is any way he can split his GI Bill between myself and my sister? I was told by a friend that once I became 21 I was no longer eligible, is this true?

A: I’m afraid your friend was right. Unless you are a full-time student at the time you turn 21, you no longer are considered an eligible dependent in DEERS at that age. If you are in school, then you can remain eligible to receive benefits until age 23 and you have until age 26 to use them.

So while you are no longer eligible, if your sister is under age 21 (23 if going to school), your dad could transfer some or all of his unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to her, provided he agrees to serve an additional four years or more. With 15 years in, he might as well extend out to 20 years.

Once the future service requirement is in place, then your dad can go to the Transfer of Benefits website and enter into your sister’s record how many months he would like to transfer to her. Once the request is approved (and it can take 8 to 10 weeks), then she will have to go to the eBenefits website and request her Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e.

It is too bad, you decided to start school now and not before you turned 21. Your dad most likely has 36 months of benefit that he could have split between you and your sister. That was unfortunate timing.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My dad is in the Army and on active duty. If I want to go to college to get some kind of degree, could I use his GI Bill? If I could, what should I do? Or what are the things/requirements that I have to do?

A: You could use your dad’s Post 9/11 GI Bill, provided he:

  • Qualifies for the transfer of benefits option.
  • Makes a transfer request to you via the Transfer of Benefits website.

He will qualify for the transfer option if he has served for at least six years in the Armed Forces of America (National Guard, active duty or Reserves) and agrees to serve an additional four years.

If (or once) he meets the past and future service requirement, then he can go to the Transfer of Benefits website and enter in your record, how many months he wishes to give to you.

Once finished, he will have to monitor the website and look for a Status change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”. It can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change, so he will have to be patient.

Once that happens, then you will have to submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website. In return, you will get back a Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Just so you know, the VA will pay actual tuition/fee cost if you go to a public school or up to $17,500 if you attend a private school. You will get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I used the MGIB-SR and kicker for 3 years in college while I was in the National Guard. When I graduated, I went active duty as an officer. Since I used almost 3 years of the MGIB-SR in college, would I be eligible for 9/11 GI Bill now because I went active duty after my guard time? Thanks.

A: Yes you would be also authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill, provided you had served for at least 90-days on a Title 10 order, which as an officer you probably served for at least three years which is needed to attain the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier.

But because you already used three years of MGIB-SR benefits, the most you could get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be 12 months. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined months of benefits can’t exceed 48 months.

Just as a note, you could also qualified at least for minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits if you had served on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001 as a National Guardsman.

It is too bad you used up your 36 months of benefits under the MGIB-SR and kicker, because that GI Bill does not pay much and you could have gotten much more under the New GI Bill, but that is all water over the dam.

If you want your additional 12 months of benefits, send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.