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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in 2005 and opted not to sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill because I didn’t think I was going to use it. I have decided I would like to get out and go to school. Am I still covered under the new GI Bill? I was told I may have to re-enlist.

A: Yes, you are covered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It sounds like you are on a six-year enlistment which should end this year. When you get out, you will have 15 years from your date of discharge to use up your 36 months of education benefit.

Well in advance of when you want to start school, request your Certificate of Entitlement by submitting VA Form 1990 from the eBenefits website. You will need that certificate when you enroll in school as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student.

The VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school and you will get a monthly housing allowance based on the zip code of your school and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents, but it will also be prorated based on the number of credits your are taking verses what your school considers to be a full-time load. You will also get a book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit with a yearly cap of $1,000.

If you plan on attending a private school or foreign school, your tuition and fees will be capped at $17,500 per year. If your school is a Yellow Ribbon school and your program is included in their agreement with the VA, you can use the Yellow Ribbon program to help pay for tuition and fees exceeding the cap.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband requested to transfer his GI Bill benefits to me on 4 April. I have been checking the TEB website and my status states that the transfer has been submitted. In the meantime, should I fill out the VA Form 22-1990e? Or do I need to wait until the transfer has been approved? I start graduate school in July, if the transfer is still in progress, will the VA send me a check for the tuition that I paid upfront? Additionally, he is currently serving in Afghanistan and will be home in the next few weeks. Does he need to sign a form that states he will commit for an additional 4 years? What other steps do we need to take after the approval of the transfer? Thank you very much for your help!

A: If he submitted a transfer of benefits request on 4 April, it should have been approved by now, so there must be an issue with it. I would recommend calling the VA and ask them why it has not been approved yet. Many times, one of the VA’s Regional or State Officers can be more responsive as they have less of a workload than the Main VA Office.

As far as submitting your VA form 22-1990e, no, don’t submit it now. Wait until the transfer is approved. If you submit it before the transfer is approved, it will come back disapproved, because they did not find any benefits had been transferred to you (because the request has not been approved yet).

If your husband did not have at least four years left on his enlistment at the time he made the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request, that is most likely the issue – The VA is waiting until they see his additional service time commitment, however, most times they just deny the transfer and not sit on it.

The other reason is he might not have met the service requirement of having served for at least six years or there could be an issue with your record in DEERS, which is what the transfer of benefits process uses as a database of record.

Most likely the VA will not reimburse you for the money you pay upfront because you were not authorized your benefits yet for the period of time you were requesting reimbursement. After 8 to 10 weeks after the transfer request was submitted, you or your husband should have been contacting the VA to find out why the request had not been approved. That would have given you more lead time to get things corrected before starting school.

Once the request is approved (and he may have to do another request) then submit your 22-1990e VA form.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear sir/ma’am, I am enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I plan to use it after I complete my 4 yrs. I had two questions in relation to this 1. Can I work full time and go to school full time simultaneously? Would I be eligible for BAH in this case? 2. Is it possible to change my Post 9/11 GI Bill to the Montgomery GI Bill? 3. If I only plan to use the GI Bill for myself and have no plans to use it for my wife or children, then which GI Bill is the best option? Thanks, regards.

A: To answer your first question, the VA does not care if you work and draw on your GI Bill, however, I caution you to do this as some students have trouble both working full-time, going to school full-time and trying to keep up good grades. Between attending classes  (whether online or on campus), doing homework and working full-time, there is little time left for anything else, especially if you have a family.

As far as the housing stipend (or BAH as you call it, however BAH is different) if you are going to school full-time online and taking at least one class per semester on campus that pertains to your degree plan, then you would get the full housing stipend based on the zip code of your school and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents.

If you are going to school full-time, but all of your classes are online, then after October 1st, you would only get $673.50. Before that date, you would not get any housing stipend. That change came about as part of the GI Bill 2.0 legislation that passed last year.

You had asked about changing your Post 9/11 GI Bill to the Montgomery GI Bill. Changing to the Post 9/11 GI Bill is irrevocable, so if you took that route, then the answer is no.

If you have had the Post 9/11 GI Bill from the beginning, you would have to first make the $1,200 contribution and then submit VA Form 22-1990, but I’m not sure you would gain anything. With the changes coming up this fall due to the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will function more like the MGIB and in most cases it pays considerably more money.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I am a veteran who will be utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill for the first time this fall. I am attending Post University and the program is online. There are 2 courses that I will be taking locally at a community college because PU allows dual enrollment. Will the GI Bill pay for dual college enrollment or will I have to make other arrangements?

A:  No, you do not have to make other arrangements; the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay for courses at both schools. Here’s how you do it. First designate the school that will be awarding your degree as the “parent” school. The other school where you will be also taking classes will be designated as your “secondary” school.

Your parent school will issue a letter to your secondary school on your behalf, informing the school which classes you will be taking from them. Once you have finished those classes, your secondary school will issue you a transcript. Give the transcript to your parent school so they can post the credits to your degree plan.

The biggest thing to get dual enrollment to work is to be sure the classes you take at your secondary school will be credited to your degree plan at your parent school. If not, the GI Bill will not pay for them and they would not apply to your degree.

As far as funding, the VA will pay your parent school for all your classes and your parent school will then pay your secondary school for the classes you take there. That is why it is important for you to work with your parent school, so you don’t end up having to pay for your secondary school classes.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in January 2001 and spent three years in the Army, in which time I fulfilled my obligation to receive MGIB benefits. I then ETS’ed, and re-enlisted in September 2004, and am still active duty, fulfilling my obligation to receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Shouldn’t I be entitled to both sets of benefits? Not to be argumentative, but someone who enlisted for Loan repayment program in their first enlistment would be eligible for post 9/11 benefits in the same situation. Thank you.

A: You are eligible for both sets of benefits, just not the full set under both programs. Under the VA’s Rule of 48, you can use up your 36 months of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get another 12 months of education entitlements.

Or you can switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away with all your MGIB entitlements intact and use up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements, but not get the additional 12 months. If you take this route, you get your MGIB $1,200 contribution back with your last housing allowance payment.

What you can’t do is use your 36 months of MGIB and then turn around and use another 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why? Because that is the way Congress wrote the GI Bill rules.

And you’re are right. For a six-year enlistment, you could get both the Student Loan Repayment Program and the GI Bill, but that is a different situation, with different programs and a different set of rules. When you are talking about being eligible for and using two or more GI Bills, then the Rule of 48 kicks in.

Is it fair? I don’t know, however, I do know the Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most generous GI Bills ever offered to our Nation’s military servicemembers and veterans. And with it transferability, it is also one of the most flexible in that it can be used by spouses and dependent children.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I separated from active duty in 02′. I am a U.S. Marine that never received a TAPS class. I am currently enrolled with Ashworth College online and wanted to know how to start my MGIB? How much tuition will be covered?

A: Actually it is the same process whether you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, and it can take up to 8 to 10 weeks, you will get back a Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

Under the MGIB, you would get paid $1,426 per month for up to 36 months, which by the way is enough benefit to get your four-year degree if you go four 9-month academic years.

Out of that $1,426 per month, you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses.  If your semesters are sixteen weeks as many of them are, then you would get $5,704 per semester in MGIB benefits. If you are paying everything out of pocket now anyway, your MGIB money should help defray some of your education costs.

If you got out after September 10, 2002, you might want to look at switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With at least one year of service after September 10, 2001, you would qualify for 50% of the New GI Bill. The VA would pay 50% of your tuition and eligible fees, you would get up to $500 per year in a book stipend and if you are classified as a full-time student, you would get 50% of the $673.50 in housing allowance that online students can start getting with the fall term.

You would have to work the numbers, but 50% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill might end up paying you more that 100% of the MGIB. Of course, if you have less than one year of service after  the September date, then the MGIB will be the better option.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m about to start receiving DEA benefits (Chapter 35). I’ve seen that the monthly payment is $936, but is that in addition to my tuition? Will VA pay for all of my tuition costs for the semester up front? I have no idea how this works!

A: Unfortunately, under Chapter 35, you are responsible to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. However, you do get 45 months of education benefits and as a dependent child, you have up to age 26 to use them. If you are a surviving spouse, then you generally have 10 years to use them up. Any unused benefits at the end of the delimitation date will be lost.

Under Chapter 35, you can take either degree-producing or non-degree courses including:

  • certifications
  • licensing
  • apprenticeships/OJT.

Just ensure your school and course are VA-Approved.

If you haven’t already, you should go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-5490. That will get you your Certificate of Eligibility that shows your are eligible to use Chapter 35 benefits.

If you are eligible for Chapter 35 as a dependent child, you may also be eligible for the Fry Scholarship. Basically, this allows you to use your  parent’s Post 9/11 GI Bill, if he/she was eligible for it and died in the line of duty. It pays considerably more being it pays for your tuition, plus gives you a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend up to $1,000 per year.  Being you asked if the VA will pay your tuition, you may have already heard about this program.

If you do qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and Chapter 35, you will be limited to a total of 48 months of combined benefits under the VA’s Rule of 48. You could use up 36 months of the Fry Scholarship and then switch to Chapter 35 and use another 12 months.

If you are a surviving spouse, then you would not be eligible for the Fry Scholarship, but you may qualify for other scholarships, grants and loans. Start with submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you would qualify for in educational funding.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband wants to transfer his Post 9/11 benefits to our son who won’t be going to college until the fall of 2012. Does he have to wait until next year to transfer or can he go ahead and do that now? And does when he physically transfers the benefits affect the remaining time he may have to serve or not? Also, where can I go to find out what percentage tier he would be at? He has been in for 18.5 years, the first 6.5 he was active duty, got out but stayed reserves. About a year and a half after that he was activated(after 9/11 happened) and mobilized but stayed stateside for a year. After that he went AGR for approx. 6 months before getting activated and mobilized again except this time he spent the next year in Iraq. When he came back he went back to AGR for another 1.5 years before becoming a recruiter where he has been at for 6+ years. The exact times are approximate but close. Would he be considered at the 100% tier? Thank you in advance for your help.

A: First, let’s work up how much Post 9/11 GI Bill qualifying time your husband has with all the different statuses he has had. It sounds like his first 6.5 years happened before 9/11, so they would not count. As far as Reservists time counting, his activations would have to been on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and others. He would have to see if his 1 year stateside activation would count.

As far as his Iraq mobilization, it would count. As if right now, none of his AGR service time would count as I had said, only Title 10 time after September 10, 2001 counts. So for right now, assuming his two mobilizations count, he would have two years of qualifying time.

However, the rule on Title 32 time will be changing in October. With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0 legislation, AGR time going back to August 1, 2009 will count. So factoring in his qualifying AGR time, he would have another two years for a total of four years.

Once he verifies that his mobilization time counts and provided his current enlistment takes him out to at least 20 years, then he can make a transfer request without additional time. However if not, then he may have to enlist for the amount of time it would take to get him to 20 years.

Once over that hurdle, then he can make a transfer request to your son. After approval, your son can request his Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA form 220-1990e from the eBenefits website. The important part is that he make his transfer request and gets it approved while he is still serving. After retiring, it is too late.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:  I would like to transfer the remainder of my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my wife (19 Months). I was honorably discharged in ‘06 with over 12 years of service. Once this is done, I meet all the qualifications for the Hazelwood here in TX. My question is: Can I use the Hazelwood while my wife is using the Ch.33 benefits or is this in some way “double dipping”?

A: It sounds like a good plan you have except for one thing – it won’t work. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, you had to still be serving to make a transfer request. This part of the rule seems to catch a lot of veterans by surprise as many, like you, think they can transfer after separating.

I think a better plan would be to use up your remaining 19 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits first and then transfer your Hazelwood Act 150 semester hours to your wife to use. Yes, it could take up a couple of academic  years to use up your GI Bill benefits, but I really don’t see another plan that would work better.

If she plans on attending school before you use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill, then she should look at scholarships, grants and loans. The place to start would be to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what she qualifies for. You (and she) might be surprised what she could get in education funding sources.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I will be retiring in about a year and would like to transfer by Post 9/11 GI Bill to my child. What are the eligibility criteria for this to occur? And can my husband also transfer some of his benefits to her as well once retired?

A: No your husband will not be able to transfer any of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to her once he is retired. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill law, you had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request. So if he has not retired yet, now would be the time to make a transfer request.

As far as the eligibility requirement to access the transfer option, a servicemember has to have served for at least six years in the Armed Forces on a Title 10 order, of which at least three years must have been after September 10, 2001. Also required is agreeing to serve an additional four years. If the servicemember is within four years of being retirement eligible, then a lesser future service requirement is required.

Once you meet the eligibility requirement, then go to the TEB website and enter in the number of months you want to transfer in your daughter’s record. Once the transfer is approved, and it can take up to 8 to 10 weeks, then your daughter can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, she will get her Certificate of Eligibility which she will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

If you both make a transfer request and both are approved before your daughter requests her certificate, then her submitting one request will work. However, if she gets her certificate between when the two transfer requests are approved, then she will have to request her certificate again to get the updated number of months she has left.