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Should I Do a Full Transfer of My Montgomery GI Bill or Wait Until It Is Exhausted?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Which is more beneficial, the full transfer or the transfer after 36 months? I will only be using MGIB for my Master’s, which is a two-year program. I know it will not cover the full costs of a master’s program, but I want to get everything I can out of it. Which way gives you more money for school and fees? Thank you!

A: In most cases, the full transfer of your 36 months of benefits from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be more beneficial and here is why. Under the MGIB, you would get $1,564 per month to go to school. Out of that amount, you have to pay tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition in full, if you attend a public school in your home state and you are at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. Choose a private school instead and they would pay up to $19,198.31 per year towards your tuition directly to your school.

But if you have to pay out-state tuition at a public school, or your private school tuition exceeds what the VA can pay, you might check to see if you qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program, provided your school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA.

Under YR, your school could waive up to 50% of the difference between what they charge and what the New GI Bill pays. The VA pays an equal amount, so in theory, the YR program could wipe out any difference that you might have.

I said in theory, because your school could also have agreed to pay a lesser percentage in which the VA would pay a lesser amount and you would have some of the difference left to pay. Either way it is a great deal. If you think you would need the YR program, ensure your school is on the YR list for your state.

At either type school, you would get the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and book stipend. The MHA averages $1,300 per month across the U.S. and you get $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend money (up to the $1,000 per academic year cap).

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