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What Would the Effects Be If I Switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Still Used Student Loans?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I took out student loans for my first semester. Since I was on the Montgomery GI Bill, I utilized the check sent to me from the VA for rent and such as my tuition was covered. What would be the effects if I changed to Post 9/11, and utilized loans again next fall? Will I receive the difference from the school since the loan will cover the tuition the VA is sending them.

A: If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, there is a good chance you would not need to take out student loans (which have to be paid back at some point). The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill differs from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is that the VA pays your tuition directly to your school at the resident rate.

Attend a public school and your tuition could be paid in full (if you are a resident of the state where your school is located). Attend a private school and the VA can pay up to $19,198.31 per year in tuition.

In addition the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays you a housing allowance that can run as high or more than what you were getting from the MGIB. And it gets even better – you also get a book stipend per semester that pays $41.67 per credit. There is a $1,000 per year cap on it.

One of the unique features of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is that it is the last payee in the tuition chain. So if other sources are paying your tuition, the VA would not pay anything towards it. All you would get is the housing allowance and book stipend.

If you are getting other financial aid that is not fenced towards tuition, then the VA would pay your tuition as if you were not getting any financial aid. The VA does not pay your tuition and you get “difference” money – they either pay or they don’t.

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