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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I am married to someone in the Army Reserve and he joined the Army in 2008 and won’t be out until 2014, would I be able to use his GI Bill if he is not using it? Would it pay for the whole tuition?

A: At this point, he would not be eligible to transfer benefits because he has not served enough time. The amount of time required for Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility is different than the amount of time required to qualify for the transfer option. To qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, all he needs is 90 days of eligible time for 36 months of eligibility at the minimum benefit of 40%; three years of eligible time will get him 100% of the benefits.

However, to make a transfer request to you, he needs to first serve at least six years on active duty and have at least four years left on his enlistment at that time. As you can see, the service branches use the access to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option as a reenlistment incentive tool.

So he will not be eligible for the transfer option until the end of his first enlistment, provided he reenlists for an least an additional four years. If he doesn’t reenlist, he can use his GI Bill benefits once he is out, but he would not be able to pass them on to you.

One last point to keep in mind. If he does reach a point where he can make a transfer request to you, he has to make the request while he is still on active duty; once separated, it is too late (at least those are the rules today – who knows what they will be in 2014).

As far as tuition starting August 1st, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay the full amount for an undergraduate program at a  public school. Foreign and private schools will be capped at $17,500 per year. Right now, the VA pays tuition up to the in-state maximum for the state where the school is located. Under the GI Bill 2.0, in-state maximums were eliminated.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hazelwood Act Benefits: I recently read the pamphlet for the Texas Veterans Commission Hazelwood FAQ. The pamphlet was dated 2006 and it stated that eligible veterans are not able to use HWA benefits for distance learning if they live outside of the state of Texas. Nonetheless, the current 2010 edition question 36 states “Are distance education classes covered by the Hazlewood Act? If the classes receive formula funding, are taken through Texas public institutions, and the charges are paid to the institution and not to a third party, they are covered by the Hazlewood Act.” This does not make any mention of not being able to use the benefits for online educational school if you live outside of TEXAS. Can you please advise on this matter? I am a Veteran who has Hazelwood Act benefits due to my entry being San Antonio TX. However, since I left the service I have continued to live in California.

A:  In the FAQs you reference, Questions 42 also states “Are distance learning classes covered by the Hazlewood Act? Answer: If the classes receive formula funding, are taken through Texas public institutions, and the charges are paid to the institution and not to a third party, they are covered by the Hazlewood Act.” Based on those two FAQs, I’m convinced you could use the Hazelwood Act as long as your online classes are through a Texas Commission-approved  school and the school is paid directly like it would be if you were using the Post 9/11 GI Bill -  where the VA pays the school for tuition and eligible fees. But, to be sure, it is always better to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so my recommendation is to contact the Texas Veterans Commission and ask. Then you are sure and they can answer any other question that may arise from your discussion with them.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am interested in transferring my GI Bill benefits to my wife so she can finish her degree. I have 6 1/2 years in now and my current enlistment will bring me to 10 years. Can I transfer these benefits and if so who do I contact to do this? Thank you for any help you can provide.

A: You meet the necessary Post 9/11 GI Bill service requirement of at least six years, but if my calculations are correct, you only have 3 1/2 years left on your current enlistment. I believe you would have to extend for an additional six months to bring your additional time up to four years left.

The VA’s website states the 10-year requirement only applies, if you “have at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or selected reserve) on the date of election, is precluded by either standard policy (service or DoD) or statute from committing to 4 additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.”

So according to that policy, you would need to have 10 years of service now before you could access the transfer option. The date of election is the date you would make the transfer request. Once you extend so you have at least four years left on your enlistment, you should be good-to-go for the transfer option.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am recently married. My wife is starting law school I’m trying to find out what I have to do to transfer my GI Bill.

A: Well first, you still have to be still active in one of the branches of the Armed Forces, either active duty, reserve or National Guard,  as you can’t transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits once you are out of the military. Next, you have to have established Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility by serving at least 90 days on a Title 10 order (for Selected Reservists) or six years for active duty personnel. And you must have served a minimum of six years in the Armed Forces of the United States and have at least four years remaining on your current enlistment. Finally, your new wife has to show as one of your dependents in DEERS. If you meet these four requirements, then you can access the transfer option on the TEB website.

Once your transfer request status changes from “Pending Review” to “Approved”, your wife can submit VA Form 22-1990e at the eBenefits website and get her Certificate of Eligibility. She has to take that with her when she enrolls in school as a student using GI Bill transferred benefits.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, her tuition and fees will only be covered at the undergraduate tuition rate at her school. When looking for a school, she should inquire if her school has a Yellow Ribbon agreement with the VA and if law school is a covered program. If so, this will significantly reduce the amount left for her to pay.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, Could I get advice on whether I could request a one year extension/or appeal if I signed up for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? When the Post 9/11 GI bill passed, the VA rep admitted that he was fairly new on all the details, but indicated that I would be receiving extra income for housing, so I bought off on it. The problem: I could not take it back once I found out that I would not be able to request a one year extension (had I not transferred to the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. I received a letter indicating that I exhausted my GI Bill benefits and had a year to appeal. Ugh … any advice?

A: What the VA Rep told you is true when going to school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you are in a degree program or in a non-degree program at a school also teaching degree programs, not taking all online courses and have a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time, then you get a monthly housing allowance calculated on the zip code of your school and paid at the rate of an E-5 with dependents. The VA pays your tuition and fees up to the in-state maximum and you would get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to $1,000 per year).

I’m not entirely sure what you are trying to extend or appeal. If you want to switch back to your old GI Bill, that is nearly impossible. The VA is very explicit that changing to the Post 9/11 GI bill is a one-way road and that switching is irrevocable.

As far as your one-year extension, are you trying to extend the delimiting date? The Post 9/11 GI Bill has a 15-year delimiting date, so the first New GI Bill won’t expire until 2016. Your old Montgomery GI Bill was good for only 10 years. If you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you shouldn’t be in a bind for time.

If you previously exhausted your old GI Bill entitlement, you could get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits unless you have already used your 48 months which is the maximum combined months of entitlement a veteran can get. If you had not exhausted your old GI Bill months of benefits when you switched, then you did not get the additional months of entitlement.

Based on your question, I tried to cover all the bases on what I thought you meant. If I missed the mark, please clarify and re-submit your question.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in the US Air Force from 1996-2000. I am unemployed right now and I wanted to return to school and use my GI Bill benefits. Since it has past ten years since my separation, I just found out I cannot use it. You can see how ultimately frustrating this can be for people that paid into the plan and now cannot use it when they really need it. Is there anything sitting in Congress or any type of bill pending that is requesting an extension of the GI Bill benefits? If not, where can I make a formal petition for such a request? I’m sure many would be falling into my category of missing the eligibility by only a few years and would especially like to see their benefits available in the hard hit economic times.

A: There have been various discussions that would make the GI Bill education benefits available for use for the life of the veteran. However, it seems like it has never gone beyond the talk stage as in my recent memory, no bill has been submitted that would do such a thing, let alone made it to a vote.

Because Congress writes and approves changes to the GI Bill, they would also have to be the one to make the GI Bill “good for life”. There are a couple of ways to make your voice heard. One, contact your congressional legislation from your district and explain to anyone that will listen, your frustration and concern. The other way would be to contact one or more of the veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion or VFW. They have lobbyists on staff at Washington D.C. that lobby for veteran benefits and changes to benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good morning Ron. I have a few questions for you. I’m retiring 1 Apr from the Air Force. My Post 9/11 GI Bill was transferred to my daughter. Since she has a scholarship with the ROTC she gets the housing amount only. The first question is will the GI Bill pay for online classes and if so how many credits do I need to take. Second, I will be taking the classes while in Korea for the next term. How does the money for housing work. Third, how do I get a stipend for my books. Finally, can I transfer part of my GI Bill back to myself. Thanks for all the help.

A: I will answer your questions in the order you asked them, so here goes. The Post 9/11 GI Bill does pay tuition and eligible fees for online classes, up to the in-state maximum (using the zip code of your school) and based on your tier percentage. From that aspect, there really isn’t a minimum number of credits you have to take to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay. If you are going to attend on-campus classes in Korea, then the VA will pay up to $439.69 per credit.

Right now, online-only students do not get the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance. Of course the way around that is to take one class per term (that applies to your degree plan) at a local campus and have a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time to qualify for the full amount. That will change starting August 1st when the GI Bill 2.0 changes take effect. Then online-only students will be authorized $673.50 per month. If you attend classes at a Korean school, then you would get the foreign school housing allowance of $1,311 per month.

As far as the book stipend, you will get paid $41.67 per credit at the beginning of each term regardless if you are online-only student or taking on-campus classes and then just pay for your books yourself.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am eligible for both the Post 9/11 GI Bill and entering the service in Texas, I’m also eligible for the Hazelwood exemption. I received a 3-year ROTC scholarship and was commissioned in 1999. After commissioning, I served on active duty for 6 years and 4 months, after which I transferred to the Selected Reserve, which is where I continue to serve (Total service time is 12 years now). I was re-activated in November, 2010 and am now mobilized overseas for a 1-year deployment. The question is regarding my two children, who I plan on transferring my benefits to. They are four years apart in age. The question is: Can I send one child to school on the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the other child to school using my Hazlewood exemption (provided he goes to school in Texas)?

A: The way the Hazelwood Act is currently written, I think it should work. Your children will have to use all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits first before your second child can use your Hazelwood entitlement as Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits have to be first exhausted before the Hazelwood Act kicks in. So whether only the first child uses them all up or the second child helps, it is immaterial as long as they are exhausted first.

With the GI Bill, you have 36 months of benefits to use, which is enough for a four-year degree if your boy goes for four 9-month academic years. Under the Hazelwood Act, you have 150 semester hours, which at 12 credit hours per semester is enough for a four year degree also. You can make a transfer under the Hazelwood Act Legacy Program.

But to cover your bases, transfer at least a month of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to each child while you are still active in the Armed Forces. That way you have total flexibility on which child can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. At a later date, even after you are retired, you can revoke and reallocate benefits as needed. The one thing you can’t do after retirement is allocate to a child never having Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits in the first place, so that limits your options.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served in the Navy from September 1997 until August 2001. I was discharged with general discharge under honorable conditions. I am about to start technical school and I want to know if I can still receive my GI Bill.

A: With a general discharge, you will not be able to use your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), as anything less than fully honorable stops you from using the GI Bill education benefits. But, that really doesn’t matter because with a 10-year delimiting date, your MGIB will expire this August anyway.

If you had more time left to use your GI Bill, and if you think your discharge was “unequitable or improper”, then you may have wanted to apply for a discharge upgrade. Because you have been out for less than 15 years, you would have applied to the Navy’s Discharge Review Board using DD Form 293. You could still apply if for no other reason than to get your discharge upgraded, if you think your have enough evidence to convince the Board to make the change.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is very simple. I would like to know if the verification sheet (Post 9/11 GI Bill verification approvement) I received twice after submitting all of the information including my DD14 by mail is all I need for school. I never got anything else stating I was good for school. I have been attending classes now for three weeks. I hope I don’t need to take a student loan due to them not paying in a timely manner? I gave up on communicating by phone. It is only computer operated voice assistance.

A: I’m not exactly sure what a “verification approvement sheet” is, but what you need, and should have received, is a Certificate of Eligibility. When you register for your next semester as a GI Bill student, your school will need a copy of your certificate.

As far as payment, it could take as long as 8 to 10 weeks to get your first payment after registering as a user of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once the payment starts, then you can expect a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend around the beginning of each term.

The VA will pay your school directly for tuition and eligible fees (up to the in-state maximum for right now). In August, that will change and the VA will start paying actual public school charges for their undergraduate program and eliminate the in-state maximums.

If you are taking  some on-campus classes and have a rate of pursuit of greater-than-half-time, the housing allowance you get will be for the month before as the VA is always a month behind in paying it. That too will change in August as the VA will start paying the housing allowance based on the number of credits you are taking. If you are taking 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time, then you will get 51% of the full housing allowance. Right now, you would get the full housing allowance for taking 51% of the full-time credits.

So depending on how much money you have set aside for schooling, you may have to look at other sources of financial support until your GI Bill payments start.