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When Using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Does the VA Ever Pay Retroactively?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a few questions about the Post-9/11 GI Bill. I served in the Army National Guard for six years from 2002 until 2008. My understanding at the time was that my GI Bill benefits ended upon separation from service so I never gave a second thought about using GI Bill benefits when I finally decided to attend college. Well, fast forward to August of 2013 when I attend my first semester of college. I paid for everything out of pocket and did the same for spring semester of 2014. After several months in class I learned from another classmate about this thing called the Post-9/11 GI Bill. I immediately went to talk to my VA representative at my college and submitted my application online for approval. I have 21 months of active duty due to deployments not including my basic or AIT training, which puts me at the 70% range for benefits. Here are my questions: 1) Will the VA pay back pay for the fall 2013 semester and the spring 2014 semester which I’m currently enrolled? 2) If they do will they back pay include MHA and the book stipend?. 3) If the MHA and book stipend are included how will the amount be determined exactly? I know I should qualify for 70% for tuition and fees. In the Fall of 2013 I was enrolled for 10 credit hours. 10/12=83% which is rounded down to 80%. The current rate for my location is $1212.00. Do I get only 70% of that rate or 80% of that rate based on my credit hours? Thank you for taking the time to look this over.

A: To answer your first question, yes most likely. The VA can go back up to one year and retroactively pay benefits. The key is that you had to be eligible for the GI Bill benefits during the period for which you are claiming (which you are). Your best bet is to talk to a VA Representative in the Regional Office responsible for your state to see what they need for proof to get a claim started.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has three different ways it pays:
• Tuition at the resident rate
• The housing allowance
• The book stipend

You should get all three of these sent to you (or Direct Deposited depending on how you set up your receipt of payments) as your reimbursement because these are the payments you (housing allowance and book stipend) and your school (tuition) would have received has you been using the program at the time.

If you qualify for 70% of tuition and fees, that is also the percentage you’ll get in housing allowance and book stipend as that tier percentage carries across the whole gambit.

Referencing your 10-credit example, you would get 70% of the 80% figure or about $679 per month in housing allowance and $292 in book stipend money ($41.67 per credit X 10 credits X 0.7 tier percentage) for the semester.

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