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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program and also get federal grants (like the Pell grant)?

A:  Yes you can. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The big thing with it is if your school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and if your program is included in their agreement.

To see if your school is approved for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to look deeper than them advertising they are GI Bill approved because some schools may have a program approved for the Montgomery GI Bill, but not the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

With the change, there isn’t as much demand for it as far as public schools is concerned, because the VA pays actual costs and eliminated the in-state maximums, however, students paying out-of-state tuition and those going to private and foreign schools can still get some value out of the program.

As far as using other forms of funding with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, know the VA is the last payer, meaning the VA will pay what is left after other programs pay their share. So while you will still get your housing allowance and book stipend, less of your tuition would be paid for using your GI Bill, but you are still using the same amount of entitlement and in the end everything is still paid for.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I was looking at medical schools abroad, and found one in London that may be suited for me. I was wondering if the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers international schools, and if a housing allowance is included in the benefits. If so is there a cap on the amount of tuition the benefits will cover? Are there yellow ribbon programs abroad as well?

No there are no Yellow Ribbon programs overseas that I know of. The Post 9/11 GI Bill does cover some foreign schools if they have taken the steps to get their programs and school VA-approved. Full-time students using their Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend a foreign school get a fixed monthly housing allowance of $1,348.84 per month.

Effective August 1, 2011, foreign school students will fall under the private school tuition/fees cap as part of the GI Bill 2.1 changes. Now tuition and eligible fees will be capped at $17,500 per year instead of the $439.69 per credit that was in effect before the change took effect. You will also still be eligible for the book stipend which is up to $1,000 per year.

To check and see if your school is VA-approved, go to the Weam’s school search program on the VA website and type in the name of your school. Then under the country button, select the United Kingdom from the drop-down menu. Click on the Submit button. You should get a list of VA-approved schools in the United Kingdom. If your school is not listed, contact your school and see if they would be willing to submit the required paperwork for approval. This document instructs them what they have to submit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I have retired from the Army National Guard/Reserve in 2011, with 20 years of service. Do I still have my GI Bill benefits? I entered service in 1980. And can I transfer my benefits to my adopted child?

I’m afraid the short answers are no and no. Let me explain why. If you never had any Title 10 time in support of a contingency operations (Iraq and Afghanistan are the two most popular ones), then your Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) benefits ran out around 1990/1991 – ten years from your Notice of Benefits Eligibility (NOBE). If you would have had less than ten years of eligible MGIB-SR service and gotten out, your benefits would have ended upon your discharge, but because you went over the 10 years mark, they expired at the decade mark.

However, if you did have at least one deployment after September 10, 2001 in duration of 90-days or more, then you have at least minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (40%). A typical one-year deployment would put you at the 60% level. The bad news is even if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your transfer option ended when you were discharged. You can still use the benefits yourself, but you lost the transfer option.

If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it is too bad that you were not aware of the transfer requirement before you retired as legally adopted children are authorized benefit recipients. However, if you were not authorized the New GI Bill, then you did not lose anything as the MGIB-SR does not have a transfer option to it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I was discharged from Active Duty in 2002 and enlisted in the NGB (National Guard) the same year and AR (Army Reserve) in 2005. I’m due to ETS in 2015 with over 20 years of Active Federal Service time, however, is your GI Bill is null and void (after 10 years from original discharge) or from my discharge from AR? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

To answer your questions, your GI Bill 10-year clock starts ticking on the date of your last discharge, which in your case would be your discharge from the Reserves in 2015.

However, I’m confused by your remark that you will retire in 2015 “with over 20 years of Active Federal Service time”. If you have been a traditional M-day soldier since 2002, that time does not count toward GI Bill eligibility, unless you had served 20 years on active duty before coming over to the Guard/Reserve.

Right now, the only M-day Guard and Reserve time that counts toward the Post 9/11 GI Bill is if you were activated and deployed on Title 10 orders in support of a contingency operation. The time you were on those orders would count toward active Federal time.

However, if you have been in the AGR program, then your Title 32 time back to August 1, 2009 will count, so you could pick up a few years of Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility under that program. Depending on when in 2002 you got off active duty, you could also have some New GI Bill eligibility time there also.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I received a General Discharge, I am wanting to attend a coal mining class through Illinois Eastern Community College, do I have any GI Bill benefits?

You have GI Bill benefits – but with a General discharge, you can’t use them. So if you think you were wronged by getting a General discharge, and you have enough evidence to support an upgrade, then start the process by submitting a DD Form 293 to your service branch’s Discharge Review Board. It can take up to a year to hear back with a decision and there are not any guarantees, but at least it is an avenue of appeal if you have been out less than 15 years.

If it has been more than 15 years, then you have to use DD Form 149 and submit it to the Board of Corrections of Military Records. That is also your place of appeal should your Discharge Review Board decision come back disapproved and you want to pursue it further. However, the Board of Corrections is the end of the road as far as the appeal process.

Also, depending on how serious you are at getting an upgrade, you might want to either consider appearing in person at your Discharge Review Board hearing or have a lawyer with military discharge upgrade experience appear in your stead. Yes, it will cost you money, but those making a personal appearance or have a lawyer making one for them have a higher percentage of getting upgrade requests approved.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I’ve been in the Army five and a half years, and intend to serve a full ten before getting out. I understand the requirements to transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill to my daughter, but she is only six years old and in first grade. What do I need to do to transfer it in a way that ensures she has access to it in about twelve years?

There are not any guarantees in this world except death and taxes, so I can’t tell you the Post 9/11 GI Bill will even be around when your daughter is ready to go to college, but if you do not plan on using your benefits yourself or making a transfer to your spouse, then you have nothing to lose by transferring them to your daughter once you become eligible for the transfer option.

If you intend to stay to ten years, then once you have served at least six eligible years and have at least four additional years left on your enlistment at the time of your transfer request, then initiate the request.

Once approved, then your daughter is set until right before she is ready to start college. About a year out when she starts looking at which school she would like to attend, she should submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get her Certificate of Eligibility.   The eBenefits website is the old VONAPP site, so it could be called something else again in ten years from now. Also VA Form 22-1990e is the current form, but again that could change a decade from now.

But, all that doesn’t really matter now. What is important is for you to make the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request and ensure it is approved as soon as you are eligible. The rest of that stuff is out of your control, so it is not worth spending time worrying about it until your daughter is almost ready to go to college.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I currently qualify for 80% under the Post 911 GI Bill for my two deployments. I have been Title 32 AGR since March 2003. I understand that under the GI Bill 2.0 Title 32 time will count and should put me at the 100% mark. Do I have to submit documentation to get credit for the Title 32 time? If I do receive the 100% based on previous service, will I get retroactive pay from 1 August 2009 until now? Thanks

A: First, I want to clarify your Title 32 facts as you explained them in your question. Only Title 32 time back to August 1, 2009 will apply toward your Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility. Any Title 32 time previous to that date will not count (at least at this time). So actually you would have two years of Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible time from your deployments and an additional two years of Title 32 time putting you at the 100% tier.

Yes, you will have to submit documentation verifying your Title 32 time. A set of orders with dates showing your Title 32 time would suffice for documentation. The other caveat to the GI Bill 2.0 Title 32 changes was that you couldn’t start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement acquired from Title 32 time until October 1st.

While the VA does pay back pay, based on what I have read, I think you could probably only get reimbursement back to August 1, 2010 due to the VA’s one-year back pay rule, but I could be wrong.  However, the VA is very explicit on their website they will not start paying benefits until after October 1st.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m eligible to retire from the Marine Corps in October of 2013. I’m interested in transferring my G.I. Bill benefits to my children via the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Plan. The regulations, as written in 2009, say I owe four more years of service if I transfer it. The language about eligibility to retire is somewhat confusing. Because the post-9/11 G.I. Bill plan was written in 2009, is being eligible to retire within two years fit the criteria? In other words, if I sign up for it in 2011, do I have to now retire 2015, vice 2013? Or, since I’ve been serving on active duty since 2009 and eligible to retire in 2013 I have simply met the criteria and just must only sign up to receive benefit when I retire in 2013? Thank you very much for your time.

A: According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits criteria, you have to have 1) served on active duty Title 10 orders for at least six years of which at least three years must have been after September 10, 2001. 2) must agree to serve and additional four years, unless you are within four years of being retirement eligible (20 years or more).

Since you are within four years of retiring, the the additional time you have to serve, if any, will be proportionally reduced. Most likely, if you are retiring within two years, you will have to extend your enlistment by two years  unless your current enlistment takes you out to 2013 already. My justification is based on the original transfer of benefits verbaige on the VA’s website:

If a member becomes retirement eligible during the period from August 1, 2009, through August 1, 2013. A service member is considered to be retirement eligible if he or she has completed 20 years of active duty or 20 qualifying years of reserve service.

  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on August 1, 2009, no additional service is required.
  • For those individuals who have an approved retirement date after August 1, 2009, and before July 1, 2010, no additional service is required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement after August 1, 2009, and before August 1, 2010, 1 year of additional service after approval of transfer is required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on or after August 1, 2010, and before August 1, 2011, 2 years of additional service after approval of transfer are required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on or after August 1, 2011, and before August 1, 2012, 3 years of additional service after approval of transfer required.

It says if you were going to retire between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2011, then you would owe two more years. Because you are retirement eligible in 2011, I would say you owe two more years unless your enlistment already takes you out to your retirement date in 2013. If it does, then you should be OK with what you have.

The sure way to tell is to make a transfer request and see if it is approved or not. If not, then you know you have to extend and apply again. If can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”, so keep checking back at the website occasionally.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is transferring his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. My question is this: if I find out that this semester is covered by grants, will my 36 months begin anyway? And as far as the time limit goes, is it three years, or is it 36 months of actively being enrolled in school. ie- If I’m not enrolled in the summer term, will that still cost me three months of benefits? Thank you for any information you can give!

A: Your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement will start when you enroll in school using your Certificate of Eligibility. If your fall semester will be covered by grants, then delay using your GI Bill by one semester. The “trigger” to start using your GI Bill is when your certificate and the Certificate of Enrollment your school submits, showing you are enrolled as a GI Bill student, match up at the VA. That starts your benefits and begins using up your entitlement.

Thirty-six months of entitlement is enough to attend four 9-month academic years. Unless you take summer classes, you do not use up entitlement over the summer break, nor do you get paid for it under the changes of the GI Bill 2.0. Before the change, you could get paid your housing allowance over the semester breaks. Because that was all you got out of that entitlement use, I never thought it was a good use of benefits, but many students liked the steady income. However, that is all water under the bridge as break pay was eliminated as of August 1st.

It does take 8 to 10 weeks to get your certificate, so be sure to give yourself enough lead time. Otherwise, see your school VA Certifying Official and see if you can get certified to start school without your certificate – it can catch up later.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ron, I was active duty in South Korea during and post 9/11, so I know I qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. In an economy such as we face today, it’s a solid time to go back to school. I have my DD214 and need to know who to call or where to start getting enrolled and squaring away my classes, books and cost of living. I live in Boynton Beach, FL and want to finally take advantage of what I have earned. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

A: The first step, is to request your Certificate of Eligibility as you will need this when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student. There are two ways to accomplish this.

If you have a lot of time before you plan to start school, then you can request your Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. If you are pressed for time, then see your school VA Certifying Officer and s/he may be able to certify you on the spot and your certificate will catch up later. The bottom line is certification is needed one way or the other to enroll in school as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition and eligible fees will be paid by the VA directly to your school. If your rate of pursuit is at least greater-than-half-time, then you would get a monthly housing allowance and at the beginning of each term, a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit unless you are taking a non-degree course. In that case, you get $83 per month in book stipend.

You didn’t say how long you served after September 10, 2001, but if you had at least three years after that date, then you qualify at the 100% tier. Less than three years will place you somewhere less than 100%, but either way you will still have 36 months of benefits  that you can use.