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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good afternoon, I am doing a policy analysis paper on the GI Bill, and I am slightly confused on how it all works. I was curious to know if veterans could go to any school in the state. I was doing some searching and noticed that only a couple of schools were listed. I was also curious about the differences between the old GI Bill and the new GI Bill. Any help would be great! Thanks for your time.

A: Generally speaking, the GI Bill must be used at a school that has VA approval. And even then, if a school is listed on the VA’s list of approved schools, it does not mean all the school’s programs are approved for the GI Bill nor does it mean that school is approved for all GI Bills. For example, the Montgomery GI Bill may pay for a student to attend a particular program, but the Post 9/11 GI Bill might not pay for that same program.

There are generally two common GI Bills. The Montgomery GI Bill pays students a fixed monthly amount and they can attend either a degree-producing or non-degree course, including licensure and certification programs. The student is responsible for paying their own tuition and other education-related expenses.

On the other hand, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays a school directly for tuition and fees for a student to attend degree-producing courses and non-degree courses taught at degree producing schools but will not pay for licensure and certifications training programs. Different GI Bills – a different set of rules for each one.  The Post 9/11 GI Bill also pays the student a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend of up to $1,000 per year. With the Montgomery GI Bill, the student receives just one payment per month.

The other big difference is the Montgomery GI Bill has a 10-year delimitation date, meaning its education benefits expire 10 years from the students date of discharge. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has a 15-year delimitation date.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: After the summer 2011 semester, I will have 25 days left on my old GI Bill. I do not qualify for the new GI Bill. If I sign up for classes in the fall semester will I only get paid for the first month since it will be about 25 days or will I get paid every month for the entire semester? I just don’t want to sign up for full time and then only get paid for one month. Thank you for your help! – Jody

A: The rules of the VA state they will pay for the whole semester or up to 12 weeks, whichever is shorter, after you exhaust your GI Bill benefits. So with your 25 days of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits left and up to 12 weeks of pay, that should take you almost up to the end of the semester, if your semester is 16 weeks long.

However, if you hit your delimiting date – the date when your MGIB benefits expire – that is a different rule. Then by law, the VA has no choice but to cut your benefits on the day they expire. Different situation, different rule.

Are you sure you don’t qualify for the New GI Bill? Being your 10-year MGIB delimiting date has not past yet tells me you served after 2001. All you need for minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits is 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. If you don’t qualify, it is too bad as that would have given you an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits once you exhausted your MGIB.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a four-year contract and am thinking about getting out early. How long do I have to serve to receive full benefits with the MGIB? — Abby

A: When you signed the four-year contract Abby, you agreed to serve four years in exchange for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). The important life lesson here to learn is a contract is binding and both parties are expected to fulfill their part of the agreement.

Generally, you have to fulfill your contract, but depending on why you are getting out, you may be able to get your full MGIB by serving 75% of your contract or 36 months. Just so you know, you will need a good reason to get out, not just because you are tired of it and want to terminate your service.

With at least three years of qualifying service, you could also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Depending on your education goals, that may be a better option for you. It is easy to convert – just send in VA Form 22-1990. If you do convert, once you exhaust your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can get your $1,200 MGIB contribution or a portion of it back, depending on how many unused MGIB months you had left at the time you switched. If you choose to stay with the MGIB, once you exhaust all of the MGIB benefits, you could convert and get an additional 12 months of education entitlement, but not your MGIB contribution back. So you have a couple of options to think about.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a college graduate that has enlisted in the Navy for a 6-year contract. I have opted for the LRP to cover the $20,000 in loans I currently am indebted. The LRP allows for payments of those loans over my first 3 years of active duty. I believe after those loans are paid by the military, I am entitled to receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill and will have full benefits of the Bill if I complete my contract and am in compliance with other obligations, such as an honorable discharge. I have talked with a counselor about this who works with the LRP, however, I just want to make sure this is correct. Just as well, it is listed in my enlistment contract that I am opting to receive LRP benefits, is there anything that needs to be in my contract to cover the GI Bill? Thank you. – Kenneth

A: No Kenneth, there is not anything additional that needs to be in your enlistment contract, because you will automatically start acquiring Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility at the end of your first three years, after  serving your LRP commitment.

Just so you understand the student loan program, after your first year anniversary, you will have to send in a DD Form 2475 on each qualifying loan to the Navy Recruiting Command (NRC). That form is what triggers that year’s loan payment and a step many miss when first using LRP.

Once the NRC received the form, they will pay 33 1/3% or up to $1,500 on that qualifying loan. So, at $4,500 per loan over a three year period, the Navy’s could pay off your entire $20,000 in student loans providing your entire loan is spread out over four qualifying loans.

If you have less than four qualifying loans, they would not be able to pay off the entire amount being they are limited to a maximum or $1,500 per loan per year.

For your second three years of your enlistment, you would build up enough time to fully qualify for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, except for the transfer of benefits option. To get that you would have to agree to serve an additional four years.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retire effective tomorrow. I transferred my 36 months of education  benefits under Post 9/11 GI Bill to one of my daughters who will not use all the benefits. Will I lose the remaining benefit or will it go back to me? I understand after separating or retiring, I can’t transfer.

A: You got caught up in a matter of term definitions. However, you are correct in saying after retiring or separating, you can’t make a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer.

But, what you are doing after having made a transfer, retiring and wanting to take back unused transferred benefits is revoking them, which is different than transferring. Once retired, you always retain the right to revoke and reallocate unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. What you can’t do after retiring is transfer benefits to a dependent that never had transferred benefits  in the first place.

For example, let’s say you had two daughters. While you were still serving, one knew she wanted to go to college and the other one knew she didn’t. You transferred benefits to the one wanting to go to college, but not to the one that didn’t.

Fast forward to now after retiring. You could not now allocate benefits to the daughter that did not want to go to college because she never had benefits transferred to her while you were active.

Servicemembers, who know how the system works, will transfer a month or two of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to each dependent while they are still on active duty, giving them maximum flexibility after retiring as far as “moving” those transferred benefits between dependents,  knowing they always retain the right to revoke and reallocate even in retirement.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I just read a blog post about a member asking if he switched to the new Post 9/11 GI Bill with 21 days remaining on his MGIB would he receive the additional 12 months. The response to his question was that he would only receive the 21 days unless he fully uses up his MGIB then switches. He would then receive the 12 months.

I just wanted to clarify if this is true because in May I will only have 6 months remaining on my MGIB and also asked about this at the education office on Lackland AFB and was told no. So I just want to know the actual answer to this question. Thank you in advance.

A: The actual answer is just as I had posted it: If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, with time left on your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then you will only get the same Post 9/11 GI Bill time as you had left on your MGIB at the time you switched.

However, if you first exhaust your MGIB, and then switch, you get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement. A direct quote off of the VA’s website says, “For example, an individual who has remaining entitlement under the Montgomery GI Bill can exhaust that entitlement and may still receive up to an additional 12 months under the Post-9/11 GI Bill”.

If you are eligible for both GI Bills, let your MGIB benefits run out and then apply to switch. On your end it will be seamless as your benefits will continue.

Once the VA gets your application to switch, they will see you are eligible for the additional 12 months. Once you get notice that your application was approved, it may show you actually have less than 12 months left. The reason is because the VA “ loaned” you enough time between when your MGIB ran out and when your Post 9/11 GI Bill was approved to keep your payments coming. Once approved, they took off the “loan” from your remaining months of entitlement.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi I’m trying to get some help with using my Post 9/11 GI Bill in the UK and I’m hitting a brick wall at every turn when trying to talk to the VA. All the universities I’m looking at are approved, but the program I want (MA Archaeology) hasn’t been approved at 90% or more of them. My question is this, do you have any advice in trying to go through this approval process, because the lack of information or help on the VA’s end is really frustrating.

A: Being 10% of the universities do have an approved master’s program in Archaeology, it leads me to believe that it is not an issue at the VA. If it was, they most likely would not have approved any archeology master programs.

I think the issue lies with the universities not sending in an approval request to the VA asking for approval of that particular program, so student can use their Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend. As you are finding out, just because a university is VA-approved, it does not mean all their programs are approved.

Of course the easy answer is to choose one of the 10% whose program is already approved, but most likely that is at one of the universities you do not want to attend. The other option is to pick out one or two universities and ask them to send an approval request to the VA to get their master’s program in archeology approved. They can see the approval process by going to this VA’s website page.

It really isn’t a VA issue which is probably why you are hitting a brick wall – it is a college issue needing to go through the VA’s approval process.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 19 active duty years in service and want to know how do I transfer my GI Bill over to my dependent?

A: It is pretty easy. You already meet the first Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer eligibility requirement of having served for at least 6 years. I’m assuming your current enlistment takes you out to 20 years, so you shouldn’t have to agree to serve any additional time, which is the second requirement.

If so, then go to the TEB website and enter the number of months you want to transfer to your dependent. It can be any amount of your unused months of entitlement. Keep checking back on the website and look for the status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”.

Once that happens, then have your dependent go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e. In return, s/he will get back a Certificate of Eligibility. S/he will need that certificate when enrolling as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Just note if your dependent is not your spouse, then s/he will have to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits before age 26. If it is your spouse, the he/she has up to 15 years from the approval date to use up transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My wife is trying to go to college and I want to know, if after my six-year mark in the Army, will she be eligible for me to request a transfer of my GI Bill?

A: It isn’t a matter if she will be eligible, it is a matter if your meet the transfer of benefits eligibility requirements. Right now the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules state that if you are on active duty, you must have served at least six year and agree to serve an additional four years, so if you have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time your hit six years of service and make you transfer request, you should be good-to-go.

Once eligible, go to the TEB website and enter the number of months you wish to transfer into her record. Once finished you will see “Pending Review” in the Status block. Keep coming back periodically to the website and look for the status to change to “Approved”. It can take up to 10 weeks for the status to change.

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 needs when she enrolls in school as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits.

One change that will take effect in October is she will start receiving the book stipend. Up until then, she would not have been eligible to get that part of the benefit.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What do I qualify for as far as the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

A: It really depends on when you served, for how long and whether your service was on active duty or in a Reserve Component. Generally speaking, to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to serve for at least 90-days on a Title 10 order after September 10, 2001.

If you are in one of the Reserve Components, i.e. Reserve of National Guard, then your Title 10 service had to be in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and a whole host of others. A typical one-year deployment would place you at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier.

To transfer benefits to a dependent, you would have had to serve at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve an additional four years. Transferred benefit recipients inherit the same tier percentage as the sponsor making the transfer.

For active duty servicemembers, the rules are slightly different. They have to serve for at least six years (of which at least three years had to be after September 10, 2011) and agree to serve an additional four years, but active duty time is Title 10 time already. The  only time that doesn’t count in the beginning is training time, and after 24 months of service, even that time counts toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility.

The other difference is active duty personnel have to be at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier before they can transfer benefits to a dependent. That requires at least three years of their six years of required service be after September 10, 2001.