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What Options Do I Have as Far as Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I was active duty from 1998 to 2003. I began coursework prior to being discharged, using tuition assistance. After being honorably discharged I continued to attend school full time using the original GI BILL and had exhausted the benefits attaining a B.S. degree. I commissioned in 2008 and have about 18 months left of service. What are my options for education benefits in regards to tuition assistance and/or the old and Post 911 GI BILL?My goals are to attain a masters degree and possibly civilian flight training. What are my options for either?

A: First, if you exhausted your Montgomery GI BILL (MGIB), then it’s dead. Second, you should be able to use Tuition Assistance (TA) while you are still serving. It will pay up to $250 per credit with a annual $4,500 cap. If your tuition costs exceed what TA will pay, you can use the Tuition Top-Up programs.

How it works is your service branch pays all your tuition and then bills the VA for what exceeds what TA pays. The VA in turn, converts that dollar amount into months and days of entitlement and deducts that from your GI Bill.

Even though you exhausted your MGIB, you will have 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Top-Up is a good way to use the GI Bill in that it slowly uses your benefits.

Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, you can only get a combined total of 48 months hence the 36 you already used under the MGIB and 12 more you can get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as flight training, the VA generally will only start paying after you have attained your private pilot’s license. I said generally, because some flight training programs include the private pilot license. Under the recent change, the VA will only pay $10,000 per year for flight training. Personally, I think a better use of your remaining GI Bill benefits would be to get your master’s degree.

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