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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to know if I have the Montgomery or the GI Bill

A: Just to prevent any confusion among readers, the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) is commonly called the GI Bill. But in reality, there are actually five fairly common GI Bills:

  • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
  • Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill
  • Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP)
  • Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)

Due to a limited word count, I’ll address the eligibility requirements only on the two most popular, the MGIB-AD and Post 9/11 GI Bills.

If you were in after September 10, 2001 for a minimum of 90 days or more, you are eligible for the New GI Bill (Post 9/11). This GI Bill is free and generally pays for degree-producing courses and some non-degree courses taught at degree-producing schools.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays for your tuition and fees directly to your school and you get a monthly housing allowance and book stipend for up to 36 months and you have up to 15 years to use your education benefits.

If you were in after 1984 up through today, then you may have the MGIB-AD provided you signed up for it (usually in Basic Training) and made your $1,200 contribution. It pays for both degree and non-degree producing programs along with licensure and certification programs.

It too provides 36 months of benefits at the rate of $1,426 per month, however under this program, you are responsible for paying your own tuition, fees, books and any other education-related expenses. You only have 10 years from your date of discharge to use these benefits.

If you qualify for two or more GI Bills, you can get a maximum of 48 months of education benefits under the VA’s Rule of 48.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hey guys, I was wondering… Does the GI Bill work for the Marine Reserves as well? And if so can you go to school while serving the 4 years?

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are referring to – you could be eligible for up to three:

If you never deployed or never served in one of the active duty branches, then you only have the MGIB-SR. You have 10 years from your Notice of Benefits Eligibility (NOBE) to use up your education benefits. If you stay in the Marine Reserves for less than 10 years, your benefits expire upon your separation from the Reserves.

If you served on active duty in the Marines or another service branch and you had signed up for the MGIB and made your $1,200 contribution, then you have education benefits that you can use up to 10 years from your date of discharge from active duty.

If you had at least one deployment on a Title 10 order, then you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under that Bill, you have 15 years from your date of discharge from the Marine Reserves to use up those benefits.

Also, if you have served for at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve for an additional four years, you can transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse and/or dependent children. Just know that the recipient will inherit the same percentage of benefits as the one making the transfer, so if you are at the 60% level, your recipient will also be at the 60% level.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently a member of the South Carolina National Guard and have less than one month remaining on my MGIB. My plan is to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to receive the additional 12 months. My question is if I use FTA, and state TA (offered in SC) will I receive a refund from the school or will the benefits be paid to me? Also, what is the monthly dollar amount if I attend school full-time online? Thanks!

A: No, you won’t get a refund from your school, nor will the VA pay you back for tuition/fees benefits. I’m assuming you have deployed at least once on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation to so that you are authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill. A typical one-year deployment would put you at the 60% tier. An additional deployment would raise you to a higher tier, but I’ll use 60% in calculating your dollar amount as that is the minimum you would have.

The GI Bill is the last payer when you are using multiple benefits, so they will pay your tuition and fees up to your tier percentage after the FTA and state TA pays toward your tuition and fees. So, you may only end up getting the book stipend of up to $600 per year (payable at 60% of the $41.67 per credit) and 60% of the housing allowance (based on the zip code of your school paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents) for those additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. So you will have to determine if that is what you want to get from your additional 12 months of benefits or if a better plan would be to use your 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill and then switch to FTA/State TA once you have exhausted your GI Bill entitlement. Or maybe use just the State TA and your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to make up for the rest. Work the numbers of all your options with the help of your school’s VA Certifying Official and your National Guard unit administrator to come up with the most financially advantageous plan to use up your remaining education entitlement.

Starting this fall, the full-time online-only Post 9/11 GI Bill housing stipend will be $673.50.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is currently using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and he receives the housings allowance. I understand that he needs to be at least a half-time student to continue to receive the housing allowance, but I have a question about the specifics.

He intends to remain full-time next semester, but wants to take a couple of courses that might not be working towards a specific degree. In order to retain 100% of the housing allowance do the courses he is enrolled in need to be part of a declared degree program or general education? Will the GI Bill pay for courses that are not part of general education or working towards a degree? Thank you.

A: Just so everyone reading this blog post is on the same sheet of music, I have to clarify something you said – “ . . . he needs to be at least a half-time student to continue to receive the housing allowance . . .”. That statement is not true. He has to be a greater-than-half-time student – he needs to take at least 51% of the number of credits his school considers to be full-time. Half of that number or 50% would not authorize him the housing allowance.

OK, with that out of the way, now onto your question. To keep getting 100% of his Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, yes, all of his courses, must pertain to his declared degree plan. Not only would courses not in his degree plan affect the number of credits that would apply to his housing allowance eligibility, but the VA also would not pay the tuition and any eligible associated fees connected with the non-degree plan courses.

Also, starting this fall the housing allowance amount criteria will change. As a result of the GI Bill 2.0 passage, the housing amount will be prorated according to the number of credits taken. While the requirement is still at least 51% of the number of credits the school considers to be full-time, the less the number of credits, the less in housing allowance. For example, if he is taking 7 credits (and his school considers 12 to be full-time), he would get 7/12th of the full-time housing allowance. Right now, he would get the full amount with 7 credits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a medically retired marine looking to go to a trade school in Florida, called Tulsa welding school with my Post 9/11 GI Bill. My wife is active duty and receiving BAH. Can we both receive BAH although she is still active and I’ll be under the GI Bill?

A:  The Tulsa Welding School in Tulsa, FL is a VA-approved school, however, with that said, you have to be careful of VA-approvals and here is why. A school that has VA approval may not be approved for all types of the GI Bill or may not be approved for all the programs they teach. Tulsa has the following welding programs approved:

  • Master Welder
  • Structural Welding.

However, if either welding program does not result in at least an associate’s degree, the program would be approved for the Montgomery GI Bill, but not for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (yet). The Post 9/11 can only be used for programs resulting in the awarding of a degree or in the case of non-degree program, taught at a school also awarding degrees.

However, if you are thinking about attending this school in the fall, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will start paying for non-degree courses much like the Montgomery GI Bill does right now. This change was a result of the passage of the GI Bill 2.0 legislation.

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about. Right now, the Montgomery GI Bill is approved for use at this school, but not the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you look the school up on the Weam’s school search, it just shows the school is VA-approved.

As far as your wife receiving BAH and you getting the housing stipend, yes, you each can get your individual benefit as long as the Post 9/11 GI Bill you are using is yours (and it sounds like it is) and not transferred benefits from your wife’s GI Bill. If it is transferred benefits then no, you would not get the housing stipend as long as she is still serving.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: With no coursework completed, is it possible to use the GI Bill for both an associate’s degree and following that, for the police academy?

A: For right now, it really depends on which GI Bill you are referencing. If you have the Montgomery GI Bill, then yes you can get an associate’s degree and attend the police academy provided the school or both schools are VA-approved.

If you have at least three years of service, then you have 36 months of entitlement payable at $1,426 per month. If you have less than 36 months of service it pays $1,158 per month.

If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would pay for an associate’s degree also, but most likely not the police academy training, unless the training is taught at a school also teaching degree-producing courses, which most academies are not. With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, that will change though.

Starting this fall, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will start functioning more like the Montgomery GI Bill in that it will start paying for non-degree programs taken at a VA-approved schools.

Under the New GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school. You get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend. For a degree producing course, the book stipend is paid at a rate of $41.67 per credit up to a yearly cap of $1,000. If you take a non-degree course after the GI Bill 2.0 goes into effect, then your non-degree course pays a book stipend of $83.00 per month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently an active duty Soldier with ten years of service and an ETS date of 25 Jun 2011. I have enlisted in the Reserves for two years.  If I enlist in the Reserves for an additional two years for a total of four, will I be eligible to transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my dependents?

A: Yes, you should qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option. Normally, for Reservists and National Guardsmen to get the transfer option, they have to serve on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation for a minimum of 91 days after September 10, 2001, but in your case with coming into the Reserves already with 10 years of qualifying Post 9/11 GI Bill service, all you should need it the four-year commitment.

Just a word of caution – be sure your additional two-year commitment has posted before you make a transfer request. Because if it has not, then your transfer request will get denied. The system will let you input the months you wish to transfer, so you won’t see the problem from your input end.

Since it takes 8 to 10 weeks for a transfer request to get actioned, you would lose that time and have to start all over with the transfer process again. Do it in the correct order the first time and it will go smoother.

Once the transfer request is approved, then your recipient can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his/her Certificate of Eligibility that is needed when enrolling in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:  If I get an honorable discharge (administrative due to anxiety) and if I paid for the GI Bill with 2.5 years of service in, what are the chances I’ll get my GI Bill if I got the loan repayment program? My loan was for 11k and the Navy paid 6k so far?

A: You won’t get your GI Bill and here’s why. You can’t use the same period of service for both the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) and the GI Bill. You could get both programs on a six-year enlistment, as you incur a three-year obligation with each program.

Being the Navy is paying on your loans means you are using SLRP first and with only 2.5 years in, you have not satisfied your SLRP obligation, let alone accumulated any time toward your GI Bill.

So even if you get out with an honorable discharge, you won’t have the GI Bill to use, because you did not serve the obligated time for it (which is the second three years of your six-year enlistment.

Evidently it sounds like you paid in the $1,200 Montgomery GI Bill contribution, but if you don’t hold up you end of the bargain, by serving six years, you won’t get your GI bill benefits, nor will you get your $1,200 back.

If at all possible, my recommendation is to stay in and serve your six-year obligation. Having the Navy pay off your loans and getting the GI Bill too for serving just six years is huge. Think of the money you are throwing away if you get out now.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: In regards to the eligibility to transfer benefits, how is time calculated? Is it only, active duty time, or is all time calculated? For instance, I was in the National Guard, but am now active. Since my original PEBD is September of 2007, does that mean I need to have served until September 2013 and agree to serve four more years, or will I have to serve 6 years on active duty and then agree to the additional four?

A: Actually the way the regulation reads, it is your time in the Armed Forces of America after September 10, 2001, which include active duty, National Guard and Reserves. Time that doesn’t count (at least for right now and there is some talk of changing it) is training time, until you get over 24 months of service and then it counts also.

So if you enlisted in Sep. 2007, you would have about 3 years and 10 months toward your six years of required service time. So yes, you should qualify to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits option in Sep. 2013. Make sure your additional four-year commitment is in place before you submit a transfer request. The TEB website will let you enter in the months, but it will come back disapproved 8 to 10 weeks later, which is how much time it takes to get a transfer request processed.

One it is approved, then the recipient of the benefits can submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website and get his/her Certificate of Eligibility that is needed when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I signed to serve in the Army in Sep. 2009 and I started BCT in Feb. 2010. I’m 7 months pregnant and I just got to this unit that keeps asking me if I want to stay in or get chaptered out.

In my last unit they told me that if I was chapter out, I wasn’t going to keep my GI Bill. Is that true? How long do I have to be in the Army to keep it? I want to stay in but if for some reason I need to get out, I want to use the GI Bill and study.

A: I would recommend staying in. Generally speaking, you have to serve at least 30 months of a 36-month enlistment to qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill. Anything less and most likely you would only get one month of benefit for each month served. If you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you would have a little over a year of qualifying service, putting you at the 50% tier as training time does not count toward New GI Bill eligibility.

As far as chaptering out, ask your command what kind of discharge they are considering. With the reason being pregnancy, and if you were a stellar soldier otherwise, they might give you an honorable discharge. However, if you had some other issues in your military past, they could decide to make it a general under honorable condition, which would prevent you from using either GI Bill.

And because you don’t have enough time in yet for the Montgomery GI Bill, and you would be at around 50% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill even an honorable discharge isn’t going to help you out that much – so if you want to go to school to secure a good future for yourself and your baby, your only real option is to stay in.