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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am U.S. Marine and I have a question about transferring my Post 9/11 Bill to my spouse. I have just recently reenlisted for an additional 4-years which would total 9 whole years in the military. My question is if I am allowed to still transfer my gi bill now and if I am allowed to reenlist for only 1 more year to equal a total of 10 years. Please help. Thank you.

A: According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules, you have to have served at least six years of which three years had to be after September 10, 2001 and agree to serve an additional four years. According to your information, it looks like you only have 5 years at this point, so you would need to serve for another year and then extend your enlistment by at least enough time to give you four additional years left on your enlistment at the time you make your transfer request.

Once you have your service requirements in place, then go to the TEB website and enter in the number of months you wish to transfer to your wife. Keep checking back at the website and look for a status change to “Approved”.

Once that happens, then your wife can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, she will get her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when enrolling in school. In your situation, your reference to 10 years wouldn’t apply.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am still active duty, and have enrolled in a graduate course utilizing my Post 9/11 GI Bill. The course is with AMU (with more to come in the near future), and costs $900. I had to pay $93 out-of-pocket, in addition to two books, which had a combined cost of about $120. I realize the $93 likely ends up remaining out of pocket, but how do I go about getting reimbursed for books with that $1000 stipend? Is there a required number of classes before I get reimbursed? Does it not cover online classes? Or do I not get it because I’m still active duty? Please help in any way you can. Thank you.

A:  Right now, you would not get the book stipend because you are on active duty, however, that will change starting on October 1st with the implementation of the GI Bill 2.0. Part of that change was allowing active duty members and their spouses using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, to receive the book stipend.

Online-only students do get the book stipend paid at the same rate as traditional classroom students – $41.67 per credit. There is not a minimum number of credits you must take to get the book stipend. Again, you being on active duty precludes you from getting it which in my estimation is stupid. What does being on active duty have to do with you getting or not getting the book stipend? I can see the housing allowance issue because you are getting paid BAH, but you are not getting paid anything for books.

It is as ludicrous as online-only students not getting the housing allowance. Don’t online students have to eat and have a place to live? Again, what does the learning venue they use to attend class have to do with denying them the housing allowance. OK, I have that out of my system.

Another change that could affect you is the Post 9/11 GI Bill will start paying for non-degree producing courses, including certifications and licensure programs. These courses pay a book stipend of $83 per month for non-degree courses.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have been in the military almost 10 years this September, I am in the National Guard, however spent over 4 years on active duty orders (2003 and beyond), and received the rank of O-1 a year and a half ago. I used a majority of my GI Bill benefits to pay for night school with Embry Riddle, and eventually became eligible for the REAP program. My question is that my wife, who has an undergraduate degree from U of L, wants to go to U of L Dental School. I would like to transfer my benefits over to her, however I am unsure of the details. Would any of my benefits cover her Dental School (DMD) education even though she already has an Undergraduate degree? Also, I calculated on post 9/11 gi bill that i would receive 100% benefits, so do i need to exhaust all of whats leftover from my GI Bill before I switch to the post 9/11 program? Finally, by switching to the 9/11 program, would she only recieve benefits for one year if i used a majority of my regular gi bill?

A: Yes, your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits would pay for your wife’s Dental school training, because she did not use the GI Bill to get her bachelor’s degree. However, the issue is that because you used up most of your initial 36 months of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) /REAP benefits, you might not have many months left to transfer to her. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB/REAP months left, you will get that same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not the additional 12 months.

If you finish using up your MGIB/REAP first, and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get an additional 12 months of education benefits that you could give to her.

If you decide to make the switch and make a transfer request, first make sure you have at least four years left on your enlistment. Once that is in place, then go to the TEB website and make the transfer request. Once approved, then your wife and get her Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website. Once she gets her certificate, she needs to take that with her when she enrolls in school as a student using GI Bill transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in the Active Army in March 2008, and just separated from service at the end of December because I won a 4 year Green to Gold Scholarship. Electing to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill, I received a payment for tuition as well as for books. I did not receive any money in the form of the BAH payment, and when I called the VA to ask why, they said that because I’m in a commissioning program that I am classified as “active” and active duty members are not eligible for the monthly BAH stipend.

I’m clearly not active duty, I believe ROTC falls under the Reserve component, and I am not collecting time in service as I would if I were active. On the GoArmy website GTG page it states that cadets are allowed to use their GI Bill.  Another website specifically states that cadets can use their GI Bill regardless of whether or not they are on scholarship.

I think the biggest thing comes back to me be classified as active, when I think I should be classified under the reserves while I am in school. Am I correct in assuming that I should be entitled to my full Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, including the monthly BAH stipend? If not can you provide the supporting regulations or stipulations so I can see them for myself? Thanks.

A: There are actually three Green-to Gold programs:

  • Scholarship
  • Non-scholarship
  • Active duty.

With all three programs, you can use your GI Bill if eligible, but with the Active duty G2G, you would not get the housing allowance due to you already collecting BAH and your active duty pay. I agree, it sounds like the VA is thinking you are in the Active duty program.

You have to be careful about what you read on websites. They may say you can use your GI Bill, but what they don’t say is you might not get the full benefits from your GI Bill while in the G2G program. The Active duty G2G is a good example. Various websites say you can use your Post 9/11 GI Bill while in the program (and you can), but they don’t say anything about you not receiving the housing allowance. Right now, it would mean only getting your tuition and fees paid.

Starting this fall, active duty members would also start getting the book stipend, which brings up an interesting point – if you were still classified by the VA as being on active duty, you shouldn’t be getting the book stipend right now.

I recommend you go in and see your school’s VA Certifying Official and let that person help you work through this. Getting something fixed at the VA can be a real challenge.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I am planning to attend Culinary school for 9 months (July 2011-April 2012) and then attend another school for 2 years master degree program (Aug 2012-2014). Would the GI Bill cover it all? I have served for 3 years and I have selected Post GI Bill which supports housing.

A: Right now, it most likely would not cover your 9-month culinary school. Before October 1st, the Post 9/11 GI Bill usually covers only degree programs and some non-degree programs if they are taught at degree-producing schools. It sounds like your culinary course is more like a vocational-type course.

However, once the changes from the passage of the GI Bill 2.0 kick in on October 1st, then the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay for your culinary course. So you may want to start your course after October 1st if you want to use your GI Bill to pay for it.

I’m confused on your program though. To get a master’s degree, you first need a bachelor’s degree and that takes generally four years to get. You are going to try to get a master’s degree with only a 9-month course behind you or do you already have a bachelor’s degree ?

Or is the program you are talking about a Master Culinary degree? If so, that is a different type of degree and not a master’s degree in the true academic sense of the word. With your initial 9-months and an additional 2-years in Culinary, you would have a total of three years that you could probably apply toward a bachelor’s degree, if you do not already have one. You have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements which could get you through four years of school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What are the requirements to be able to give part of my GI Bill to my wife?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are talking about. If it is anything other than the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it will not have any transfer of benefits options.

If you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you are on active duty, then you have to have served for at least six years (of which at least three years has to be after September 10, 2001) and agree to serve an additional four years. If you are within four years of being retirement eligible (20 years), then you can agree to a lesser amount.

If you are in the Reserves or National Guard, then the six/four-year requirement is the same, except that you have to have served at least 90-days on a Title 10 tour in support of a contingency operation, of which the most popular two are the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to even qualify for the New GI Bill. A one-year tour would place you at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier and know that your recipient would inherit the same percentage of benefits.

Of course, if you are no longer serving, then your opportunity to transfer benefits has passed as the way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill you had to be serving in the Armed Forces of America “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I was recently honorably discharged from the Air Force 2 months ago and I’ve been scrambling to get my GI benefits for Fall Semester 2011 in order. I’ve read into some of the older posts about how it can take 8-10 weeks for just a claim for education benefits to be processed, but I was curious about how the payment will work. Specifically, if I’m to front the money for tuition for my fall semester this year, and the GI Bill benefits don’t kick in until say a month afterwards, am I reimbursed with a check? It was my understanding that the VA benefits office only cuts a check directly to the school for tuition, so I didn’t know if I’d get the money back that I had provided myself. Thanks for any feedback!

A: As long as you qualified for the Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefit during the period you had to pay for, the VA will reimburse you for those expenses. As a matter of fact, they will go back up to one year and pay back benefits.

What they won’t do is pay for back benefits if you were not eligible for them yet. For example, if you had made a transfer request to a family member, but it had not been approved yet, they would not pay that family member for the money they had to pay out to start school. If the transfer request had been approved before school started, but the student did not have a Certificate of Eligibility yet, then the VA would reimburse the student. It all comes down to if you own the benefit or not at the time you  use it.

You would have to claim reimbursement by contacting the VA and submitting the information they request. Your school’s VA Certifying Official could help you with the letter and supporting documentation you would need.

Hopefully, you will get your Certificate of Eligibility in time and not have to go through that headache. If you don’t get your certificate and your school start date is drawing near, contact your Certifying Official. Many times they can certify you on the spot and then your certificate can catch up later.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was Army National Guard soldier and received and used the entire Montgomery GI Bill in the 1990’s. I served 18 months with OIF in 2004-05. I retired in 2007. Do I qualify for additional educational benefits under the New GI Bill?

A: Yes you do. The way a Selected Reservist qualifies for the Post 9/11 GI Bill is by serving on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as OIF, OEF and other operations. With an 18 month deployment, you should qualify for 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 70% tier level, meaning the VA would pay 70% of your tuition and eligible fees, you would get 70% of the housing allowance and 70% of the book stipend.

You will be limited to just an additional 12 months of education benefits because of the VA’s Rule of 48. Under that rule, if a servicemember or veteran qualifies for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of combined educational entitlement can’t exceed 48 months. If you had not already used up your Montgomery GI Bill, then you would have qualified for 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements, but not the additional 12 months. Also switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with all your months of entitlement intact, you would have gotten back your $1,200 MGIB contribution once you finished using your last month of benefit.

To use your additional 12 months of benefit, submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website to get your Certificate of Eligibility. You will need that when enrolling in school as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I take online classes and my GI Bill has 2 months and 28 days left  as of 27 June 2011 before it is all used.  I will finish my degree in Aug 2012. Since my GI Bill will run out before my graduation time, is there a way for the VA to continue paying for my college degree?

A: There may be, depending on which GI Bill you are now using, and if you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) now, but you served at least 90-days after September 10, 2001 on active duty or a Title 10 order, you may be eligible for an additional 12 months of education benefits. How you would do that is to exhaust your MGIB benefits first, and then send in VA Form 1990 from the eBenefits website.

The percentage of pay for those additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefit will depend on how much qualifying time you served. The 90 days I mentioned before would get you 40% of the full amount, while three years after the September date would get you to the 100% mark.

Also, just so you know, if you run out of your MGIB mid-semester, the VA will continue paying you either through the end of the semester or for up to 12 weeks, whichever is less. If you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, they would continue paying you and then deduct that amount of entitlement from your additional 12 months of benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How come I do not get BAH or books stipend with my GI Bill using on line classes?

A: There could be a couple of reasons why you are not getting these two items. First, if you are using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) instead of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would not get either stipend. The MGIB only pays a fixed amount to the student each month. It is the responsibility of the student to pay tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses out of this money. Right now, a student that had three years of active duty or more would get $1,426 per month for up to 36 months.

Two, if you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and are a spouse of an active duty servicemember or a servicemember yourself, then you are not authorized either stipend. That will change starting with the fall term. With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, active duty members and their spouses will start getting the book stipend as of October 1st.

I can see you not getting the housing stipend with all online classes as it is not authorized for online-only students right now. With the GI Bill 2.0 changes kicking in, full-time online-only students can get $673.50 per month on housing stipend, but I don’t understand why you would not get the book stipend, unless it has something to do with your rate of pursuit. That is just a guess as I have to check it out to be sure.