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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can  I use the Yellow Ribbon Program to get a Class A Commercial Drivers License?

A: Most likely not. The Yellow Ribbon Program is part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and right now, that GI Bill does not pay for non-degree courses unless they are taught at a degree-producing school.

However, that will change starting this fall.  With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0 change, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will start paying for non-degree courses in addition to licensure and certifications. In short, it will function more like the Montgomery GI Bill.

As you may or may not know, under the Yellow Ribbon Program, a school declares which programs will qualify for their Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA – usually that focuses on degree-producing courses.

The school can pay up to half of the difference between what they charge and what the GI Bill pays. The VA will pay an equal amount. This leaves very little for the student left to pay, however, most non-degree courses were not included in the Yellow Ribbon agreements because they were not covered under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

I have not read or heard anything yet as far as if non-degree courses will be covered by Yellow Ribbon Program or not, but my gut instinct is telling me probably not.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is under the New GI Bill. It states that it pays the instate most expensive public school. My state is Idaho which on this site it says it pays $2,428 but Idaho state university costs $2,708 and Boise State is $3,400. So how much is it actually going to pay for the most expensive or the $2,428 that this site says is the max?

A: Right now, the Post 9/11 GI Bill for Idaho will pay up to $273 per credit and up to $2,428 in fees per term. Twelve credits comes out to $3,276, which is more than enough for Idaho State, but about $300 per term short for Boise State, currently listing their tuition at $3,594 for full-time 12-18 credits.

But starting on August 1st with the fall term, the instate maximums are gone and the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay actual public school charges for the school’s undergraduate program. That change came about as a result of the passage of the GI Bill 2.0.

The other things that will change are the elimination of interval pay and prorated housing allowance, based on the number of credits taken per term. Right now, a students in the same school zip code get the full housing allowance whether they are taking 50% of the number of full-time credits or a full credit load. While I understand rent or a mortgage payment is not based on how many credit hours a student takes, it never seemed fair to me considering how much more work a full credit load is compared to a little over half a credit load. But that is just my opinion having been a full-time student back a few years ago (quite a few).

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is currently in the Army as a recruiter. He has been in for 18 years (he’s been on active duty, reserves and AGR during these years) and is set to retire in 3.5 years and we were hoping to be able to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to our son who is going into college in the fall of 2012. Does he have to apply for these benefits before he transfers them to our son, he does not nor has he ever signed up for any other GI Bill. Would he be able to receive 100% of the benefits at the time our son would be going off to school or how would we know how much he would qualify to get. Once the benefits are approved for transfer how does my son then use the benefits? And lastly if he does get 100% will this cover all 4 years of my sons schooling as far as the tuition/fees, room and board and books? Thanks so much I know that was a lot of questions.

A: To answer your first question, no he does not have to apply for them. Once he meets the additional service requirement, meaning he may have to extend for 6 months or more, he can go to the TEB website and enter in the number of months he would like to transfer to your son. Once submitted, the status will be “Pending Review”. He can keep watching the website for the status to change to “”Approved”.

Once that happens, your son can go to the eBenefits website and request his Certificate of Eligibility by submitting VA Form 22-1990e. He will need that when he enrolls in school as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

Your husband should have 36 months of entitlement that he can transfer. That is enough for four 9-month academic school years so your son should be able to get his four-year degree using his Post 9/11 Transferred benefits.

As far as the percentage tier he will qualify for, it depends on how much Title 10 time he has. His active duty and any Title 10 deployment time will count. Right now, none of his AGR Title 32 time counts, but that will change starting on August 1st. Due to the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, Title 32 time back to August 1, 2009 will count, however, benefits acquired under Title 32 time can’t be used until October 1st.

So if he has at least three years of Title 10 after September 10, 2001 and Title 32 time (between this August and back to August 1, 2009, he should qualify for the full 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If you start off using one GI Bill program, can you later switch to another, for example, if I cannot use the Post 9/11 GI Bill because I am not presently located where there is a VA-approved school that I can take in classroom courses with presently, can I switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill once I return to the US where there are VA accredited schools?

A: Yes you can switch provided you are eligible for both GI Bill programs. So I’m assuming you have the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) right now. Just be aware that you will only be able to switch once and after switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you will not be able to switch back to the MGIB; switching is a one-way road.

You do have an option though. One, you can take online courses and use your GI Bill regardless of your location. After October 1st, you can get up to $673.50 in a monthly housing allowance – something online-only students currently do not qualify for.

You also have a couple of options to think about before switching. One, if you switch with MGIB entitlement left, you will get those same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once you use up those months of entitlement, you will get a prorated amount of your MGIB contribution back.

However, if you use up all of your MGIB entitlement and then switch to the Post 9/1 GI Bill, you can get an additional 12 months of education benefit. So it will come down to whether you want the money or the extra months of entitlement.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How long do you have to be in to transfer your G.I. Bill to your child? I have no kids at the moment but when i do i would like to transfer it over to them how would i do so?

A: The process is easy. Once you meet the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option eligibility requirements of serving for at least six years and agreeing to serve an additional four years, then you can go to the TEB website and enter in the number of months you would like to transfer. Keep checking back at the website and look for the status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”.

Once that happens, then the receiving member can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get his/her Certificate of Eligibility which is needed when enrolling in school as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

The receiving member may start using the benefits upon reaching his/her 18th birthday or upon receiving a high school diploma and must finish using the benefit by age 26. Any unused benefits after that age are lost.

However, the transferring member could revoke unused benefits and either use them for himself/herself or allocate them to another dependent child already hainv received transferred benefits while the sponsor was still on active duty.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, my husband recently transferred his Post-9/11 GI Bill to me. I plan to attend classes online that are set up in 8 week blocks, summer spring, and fall. So, for example if I took 2 classes this Fall in block “A” and 2 in block “B” for a total 4 classes in 16 weeks the college considers me a full time student. Taking 1 class per block a part-time student. My question is how much time will be debited from my GI Bill attending full-time versus part-time? Is there a benefit in attending full-time as months are debited regardless of the amount of classes you are taking or is it indeed pro-rated to where this has no bearing? Thank you in advance for your response.

A: The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill works as far as entitlement use is a month of entitlement is used for a month of class. So if you are going full-time, it would be a month for month exchange for each full month you are in school.

However if you are going at less than full-time, the entitlement use is prorated according to the number of credits you are taking against what your school considers to be full-time.

For example, if your school considers 12 credits as a full-time load, and you are taking 12 or more credits, then you would use one month of entitlement per month of school.

However, if you are taking 8 credits, then you would use 8/12ths of a month of entitlement per month of school or about 20 days per month. You could also will use less than a full month of entitlement if your semester starts or ends during mid-month.

You still end up using however many months of entitlement you have – it just takes you longer to use them up when going to school part-time.

Also, remember that starting this fall, your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance will be prorated based on the number of credits you are taking.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Ron, I transferred my GI Bill benefits to my son and he qualifies for 80% based on my Post-9/11 service. He will be attending Bacone College in Muskogee, OK. The eligible fees per term there according to the GI Bill calculator is $12,046.44. Bacone College has a flat tuition $5,050.00 per semester (12-17 credit hours). Am I correct in my understanding that the VA will pay the whole $5,050.00?

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill fee amount for Oklahoma is actually $15,058.05 per term, but keep in mind this amount does not include tuition. It covers such things as lab fees, graduation fees, health insurance (if the school requires all students to carry it through them), etc.

As far as tuition, the VA will pay up to $188.60 per credit. If Bacone’s $5,050 amount is just the tuition for 12 credits, that breaks down to $420.83 per credit. The VA will only pay $188.60 of that amount, so you would be responsible for $232.23 per credit the GI Bill would not pay. If some of that $5,050 is for fees, then that would lower the per credit tuition amount left to pay and some of the cost could be covered under the $15,058.05 fee amount per term. It will really depend on how the school breaks down their $5,050 per term cost.

If Bacone is a Yellow Ribbon school, then the school could pay for half of the difference between what they charge and what the GI Bill pays. The VA would pay an equal amount leaving you with very little left to pay out of your pocket. That is provided the program your son is taking is one that is covered by their Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have read that you can still get the housing allowance if you are doing online classes as long as you have one class on campus. Is that true, if so is that one class a week or month or what. And/or and there any other stipulations with doing online classes?

A: It is one class per term. So if you are on a semester system, you would have to take at least one class per semester. The real key to getting the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is not just taking any one class, but taking a class that pertains to your degree plan. If the class does not, then the VA will not pay for it and it would not count toward getting the housing allowance.

As you know, online-only students had to take a qualified traditional class each term to get the housing allowance. Online-only students without an on campus class were not previously authorized that payment. However, with the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, that will change on October 1st, 2011.

Starting in October, full-time online-only students can get $673.50 per month in a housing allowance. That is still only half of what full-time traditional students get, but at least it is more than they previously received. Evidently, the online student only eats half as much and only has half the housing expenses of traditional students. That is the only reason why I could see why one group of students gets half the housing allowance of another group. The only real difference is online-only students don’t have the commuting costs.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I have a few questions if you have the time to answer them. The first question is when I originally joined the Navy instead of taking a bonus I decided to take a $50,000 college scholarship fund, my question is does the fund work with the G.I. Bill, or has it been discontinued or something like that? I have not heard about this program in a long time. The second question I have is if there is a list of schools in Mass. and Vermont that accept the G.I. Bill, and their tuition rates compared to the State average? Thank you for your time in advance.

A: The real question is how many years have you been out of the Navy? The college scholarship fund works in conjunction with the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and that particular GI Bill has a 10-year shelf life. So if it has been more than 10 years, your MGIB has expired along with your college fund.

If it has been less than 10 years, then you can still use both your MGIB and college fund. Be sure to send the VA documentation on your Navy College Fund as far as how much you signed up for. Otherwise, they will not know.

Many veterans are also confused on the actual college fund amount. While you signed up for a $50,000 fund, that is a total amount including the MGIB, so what the MGIB was paying at the time you signed up multiplied by 36 months has to be deducted from the total amount. Whatever is left is your actual college fund and it will be divided into 36 monthly payments. That is what you will get for your scholarship fund payment each month, plus the MGIB monthly amount which by the way is $1,426 per month. You can most likely expect your college fund amount to be around a couple hundred bucks a month added to your MGIB payment.

It was very misleading how the DoD worded that incentive program. Most think they actually have an additional $50,000 plus the MGIB and that is not so.

You can get a list of VA-approved schools in Mass and Vermont by using the Weam’s School Search Feature. While it will give you the max tuition and fees for each school, it does not give you the amount each school charges. You would have to look up that information on each school’s website.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How many credits must I carry per semester to receive full benefits?

A: It depends on how many credits the school considers to be full-time and which GI Bill you are using.  If you are using the Montgomery GI Bill, then you must take as many credits as required by your school to be considered a full-time student, if you want to get the maximum benefit, which is $1,426 per month for 36 months if you served for three years or more.

If you are taking less than a full-time load, then your benefits will be reduced accordingly. Also, if you served less than three years, you will receive a lesser amount than someone having served for three years or more, even if you both are taking the same number of credits.

However, if you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you can get the full housing allowance by taking at least 51 percent of the number of credits the school considers to be full-time (at least for right now) as long as you are not an online-only student. Starting this fall that will change however.

With the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, users of the Post 9/11 GI Bill starting on August 1st will get paid their monthly housing allowance based on the number of credits taken. For example if a student is taking ¾ of a full-time load, s/he will get 80% of the housing allowance. The VA rounds to the nearest tenth.

Also in that change, full-time online-only students will qualify for up to $673.50 in a monthly housing allowance after October 1st.