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When Is a Good Time To Switch GI Bills?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am in the last semester for my Chapter 31 GI Bill benefits. I need to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. When should I start the process, with December being my last month for Chapter 31 benefits?

A: Switching GI Bills can be tricky. If you switch before exhausting your current GI Bill, then you could end up with the same unused entitlement under your new GI Bill as you had with your previous one. The key is to fully exhaust your current Chapter 31 entitlements and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The VA will see that you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and they will “loan” you the months and days you need to get you to the end of your term. Then once in your new term, you would get paid under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Although you are authorized the additional 12 months of benefits, it may not look like that is what you got when you see your additional months. The VA will deduct the months and days they “loaned” you when you ran out of Chapter 31 benefits. So, you actually got the 12 additional months – you just already used some of it up.

So to answer your question, switch once you are sure your Chapter 31 benefits have been used up.

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