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What Is the First Step for a Retiree Who Has Never Used any Montgomery GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What is the first step for a retiree who has never used any Montgomery GI Bill benefits, and wishes to use them now…especially since they cannot be transferred to my dependents since I retired in late 2008. Thank you. — Tom

A: The first step Tom is to realize they have an expiration date – 10 years from your date of discharge, which would make it 2018. Next would be to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. Be sure to check block 9B in Part II as the GI Bill you want to use. In return, you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility that you’ll need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

Right now, the payment for the Montgomery GI Bill is $1,648 per month. Out of that amount, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc.

But you do have another option – the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Because you had at least three years of service after September 10, 2001, you also have this GI Bill. One advantage is it has a 15-year shelf life giving you an additional 5 years to use your benefits. Also, under this GI Bill the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and you get a monthly housing allowance that is almost as much as what you get paid under the MGIB. Also, each semester you get a book stipend.

Generally speaking the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a better option for most students. And you have one more option. You can use up your 36 months of MGIB benefits, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits and the additional 5 years to use them. All in all, it is a pretty sweet deal.

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