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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Would my spouse also receive housing allowance & book stipend if I use my husband’s GI Bill? I will be going to a campus school in Texas.

A: If your husband transferred some of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you while he was still serving and he is now out of the service and going to school, yes, you would both get the housing allowance and book stipend, provided you both meet the eligibility requirements for the housing allowance.

To be eligible, you have to be a greater-than-half-time student and not taking all online classes. So if your school considers 12 credits to be full-time, then you have to take at least 7 credits to qualify. Before August 1st, 7 credits or more would get you the full housing allowance, but that will change. With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, the housing allowance will be prorated based on the number of credits you are taking.

For example, after August 1st, if you are taking 7 credits, then you would get 7/12th of the housing allowance, whereas now you would get the whole amount.

If you husband is still serving, then you would not be eligible for the housing allowance, but you would be authorized the book stipend starting this fall. That was another GI Bill 2.0 change.

Your husband most likely has 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, so the VA doesn’t care if they pay you and him both for 18 months (assuming he gave you half of his 36 months) or just him for the full 36 months.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Regarding Flight Training. I am trying to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to obtain a Type Rating in a Cessna Citation business jet. So far, I have been unsuccessful. Although everything I read says Flight Training is part of the GI Bill, when I tried to use it, I was told Flight Training is not part of the GI Bill until after October 1st, 2011 (FY12). Additionally, I would not receive 70% tuition, as I was told I had earned, instead I would receive one semester’s tuition at a state university for the state where the training was conducted, or $10,000, whichever was less. So, if I was taking flight training in Ohio, and a semester’s tuition was $2,500, that is all I would receive, even though the type rating costs $28,500. Not exactly a great program for a professional pilot pursuing further education. Am I wrong?

A: According to the information I’m reading, that interpretation isn’t quite correct. The VA website says after October 1st, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will “pay actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees assessed by the school or $10,000, whichever is less.” So you have the $10,000 part right, but the one semester part is wrong – you get paid for what your school charges a resident student per academic year, not for one semester. Also, many of the flight costs are not in the tuition costs, but could be covered in the fees portion.

If your program costs $28,500 and your tuition is $5,000, the rest of the costs are most likely fees. In your case, you will max out at the $10,000 per year limit with just the tuition from two semesters. The other $18,500 you would be responsible for paying.

Generally speaking, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers flight training now, as long as you already have your private pilot’s license and take your training at a school also teaching degree-producing programs. But, the pay structure is different than other types of training in that the VA will only pay up to 60% of tuition and fee costs. If you take a four-year aviation degree program, the course is covered just like any other four-year program.

The VA is very specific when it comes to flight training as many veterans want to take it as an avocation (recreational flying) instead of as a vocation(career as a pilot).  Of course the real purpose of the GI Bill is to train a veteran for a career.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, my husband gave me his Post 9/11 GI Bill. I have been attending school as of Jan 2011. Do I get the BAH since he is retired? He did 28 years. Thank you.

A: You should, provided you are taking at least 51% of the number credits your school considers to be full-time and not taking all online courses. Right now if you are considered a greater-than-half-time student, you would get the full Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance. With the GI Bill 2.0 changes, that will change this fall – students will start getting a prorated amount of the full housing allowance based on the number of credits they are taking.

For example, if you are taking 7 credits and your school considers 12 to be full-time, then you would get 7/12th of the full housing allowance. Is that fair? I don’t know. I realize rent and mortgage payments are not determined based on the number of credits you take, but I also know that 12 credits is considerably more work than 7 credits and personally I never thought it was fair that both got the same amount.

If you are taking all online classes, then right now, you are not authorized the housing stipend. But, that was another change under the passage of the GI Bill 2.0. Starting in the fall, full-time online only students can get $673.50 in a monthly housing allowance. Part-time students would get a prorated lesser amount.

Of course the way around that is to take at least one course per semester pertaining to your degree plan at a brick and mortar school. Then you would get the full housing allowance amount for the zip code of the school where you are taking the traditional class.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I live in South Carolina, but the school I want to attend is in New York (CUNY). How much tuition would be paid under the new GI Bill 2.0? I am the dependent of a National Guard member and he is eligible for 60% of the GI Bill currently; next year he will be eligible for 80%.

A: It depends on if CUNY is a private or public school. If it is a private school or you have to pay out-state tuition (which it sounds like you will), then you will be limited to 60% of the $17,500 cap that was part of the GI Bill 2.0 changes.

If New York does not charge out of state tuition or they have a reciprocity agreement with South Carolina (which I doubt as usually reciprocity agreements are with adjoining states), or if CUNY is a public school then they would pay 60% of actual school charges. As you know, the GI Bill 2.0 did away with maximum in-state charges, so the VA will pay actual costs (or a percentage there of, if you are not at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier) starting with the fall term.

If you were at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill, the thing that could help you is if CUNY is a Yellow Ribbon School. If so, and your program is one of the covered ones in their Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA, the school could pay up to half of the difference between what the GI Bill pays and what the school charges. The VA would pay an equal amount. This should leave you with very little left to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a 100% service connected disable veteran. Can my children receive state GI Bill and VA (Federal) GI Bill for their education in college?

A: Yes they can provided your state offers a state GI Bill. But know the VA is usually the last bill payer, so they may only pay the tuition/fees that is left after the state GI bill pays first.

As a veteran with a service-connected disability, you are authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% level if you served for at least 30 days after September 10, 2001.

The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to be on active duty on or after August 1, 2009 to make a transfer request. Now the real question is did you have a chance to make your transfer requests before you were separated? Many disabled veterans were so focused on their health (and rightly so), that they forgot (or in many cases did not know) they had to make a transfer and get it approved before they got out. If you did, you were one of the lucky ones. If not, then there still might be light at the end of the tunnel.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Rep – UT) w/ 1 Co-sponsor recently introduced H.R. 2002 legislation that would allow service-connected disabled veterans the opportunity to make a transfer request – the opportunity many never got. However, it will need to pass both the House and Senate, and have the President sign it into law before it can be used. At least someone is making an attempt to correct a wrong.

If you did not make a transfer while you were still in, then look into getting Chapter 35 for your children. This GI Bill could provide up to 45 months of education benefits for each of them.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can i start transferring my New GI Bill to my daughters even I don’t have 10 years of service, and at the same time can they start using it?

A: You don’t need 10 years of service before you can make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer request. You do need to have served for at least 6 years (of which at least three years had to be after September 10, 2001) and agree to serve for an additional four years though before you can access the transfer option. If you are less than four years from being retirement eligible (20 years of service), the additional time required is prorated at a lesser amount.

Once you meet these two service requirements, then you can make a transfer request to your daughters by going to the TEB website and entering in the number of months you would like to transfer.

If you are interested in making a transfer to your wife in the future, give her at least one month now. By giving your spouse and daughters each at least one month while you are still serving, you increase your transfer flexibility in the future.

With each of them having at least one month now, you can revoke and reallocate any unused benefits as desired, even after retiring. But, if one of them does not have any transferred benefits now, you can’t give them any after you retire.

Once your transfer requests are approved, then each member receiving benefits can go to the eBenefits portal and request their Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. They will each need this certificate when enrolling in school.

Once they receive their certificates, they can start using their benefits immediately.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband retired from the US Army on November 1, 2009. He is wanting to gift me part of his GI Bill and he will use the other part. Can he do that? If he can, what is the next step in making that happen? Thank you.

A: If you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he can use it himself up to November 1, 2024, but he can’t gift any of it to you. If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), it didn’t have a transfer to dependents option, so there isn’t any way to make a transfer request.

As far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the way Congress wrote the Bill, he had to be “on active duty on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request, so he would have had the time to make a request before he retired had he known all of the rules. Many veterans retiring shortly after the New GI Bill went into effect did not know about the still-serving restriction on making a transfer of benefits until they were already out.

Periodically, there is legislation introduced that would allow a 20+ plus year retired veteran the opportunity to make a transfer request, but so far none of the legislation has had enough support to pass. But keep watching this blog as I post information like that once I’m made aware of it and the legislation can be introduced at any time.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello Mr. Kness. Quick question regarding schools…Where can I search for a specific school? The school I am currently attending is Arapahoe Community College – in Littleton, CO. I will be getting married this month, and using my husbands Post 9-11 GI Bill. I am just trying to get ahead of the game to see if I have to transfer colleges. Thanks in advance.

A: There is no reason why you should have to switch after you are married, as that college accepts the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Just be sure the program you are taking is also VA-approved. In some cases the school is VA-approved, but not all of the school’s programs are approved. You can contact either the VA or your school and they should be able to give you that information.

Also be aware that to make a transfer, your husband has to have served for at least six years and agrees to serve for an additional four years before he can access the transfer option.

To make a transfer, he can go to the TEB website and enter the number of months he would like to transfer to you. Once approved, and it can take up to 10 weeks for approval, then you can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility. You will need that when enrolling as a GI Bill student using transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

If your husband is at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level, you would also qualify for the Yellow Ribbon program if you would need it. Arapaho Community college does have a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA , but here again, it may not cover all of their programs, so be sure and ask if your program is covered if you are going to use it.

If it is, then your school could pay up to half of the difference between what they charge and what the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays. The VA pays an equal amount. This leaves very little left for you to pay if anything. It is worth checking into.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I do a VA GI Bill transfer from my husband to me?

A:  The short answer is you can’t do a transfer of you husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits from him to you. Why? Because they are not your benefits to transfer – they are his and he has full control over them. He is the only one who can make a transfer request while he is still serving and the only one who can revoke and reallocate unused transferred benefits after retiring.

If he chooses to and is still on active duty, and has served at least six years and agrees to serve an additional four years, he can make a transfer request to you of any or all of his unused Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement by going to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website.

Periodically, he will have to go back to the transfer website and look for a status change of “Approved”. Once approved, which can take up to 10 weeks, then you can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

If your husband is discharged or separated, then it is too late to make a transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently on active duty, eligible for retirement FEB 2013. I am currently enrolled in an accelerated Bachelors program, I have utilized 9 credits hours for the first “block” and upon my enrollment in the second “block” of classes I will exceed my available TA by 2 credits hours (Navy 16 credit hours x $250.00 = $4,000 a year). Could you please explain the advantages/disadvantages of using Top-up using for the remaining two credits and possibly for the rest of the fiscal year until I’m allocated more TA?2. Should I switch to the “New GI-Bill” or stick with the MGIB? If so, when should I switch?3. Do I have to extend my enlistment beyond my retirement date to be eligible to transfer some of my GI-Bill entitlements to my dependent daughter? Thank you!

A: The advantage of using Top-Up is it allows you to continue your education beyond what Tuition Assistance (TA) will pay, and while it does reduce your GI Bill entitlements, it does so at a much slower rate. It ends up taking you longer to use up your 36 months of benefits. Outside of using GI Bill entitlement, there really isn’t any disadvantage to using the Top-Up program.

As far as your second question, there are a couple of considerations you will have to look at. One, if you switch with entitlement left under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then you will get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under the MGIB.

However, if you expend all of your MGIB entitlements first and then switch, you can get an additional 12 months of entitlement. Also, if you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, when you use up your entitlement, you will get a portion of your MGIB contribution back.

Under the MGIB, you most likely get $1,426 per month and you have to pay all of your own education expenses. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you get your tuition and fees paid for by the VA directly to your school and you get a book stipend and a monthly housing allowance. Generally speaking, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a better deal financially for those earning a degree.

Being you are eligible to retire in 2013, you may be required to extend for an additional year or so, if you want to transfer some of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your daughter. If you had less than a year left to retirement that most likely would not be the case.