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Why Am I Not Eligible for Both GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in January 2001 and spent three years in the Army, in which time I fulfilled my obligation to receive MGIB benefits. I then ETS’ed, and re-enlisted in September 2004, and am still active duty, fulfilling my obligation to receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Shouldn’t I be entitled to both sets of benefits? Not to be argumentative, but someone who enlisted for Loan repayment program in their first enlistment would be eligible for post 9/11 benefits in the same situation. Thank you.

A: You are eligible for both sets of benefits, just not the full set under both programs. Under the VA’s Rule of 48, you can use up your 36 months of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get another 12 months of education entitlements.

Or you can switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away with all your MGIB entitlements intact and use up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements, but not get the additional 12 months. If you take this route, you get your MGIB $1,200 contribution back with your last housing allowance payment.

What you can’t do is use your 36 months of MGIB and then turn around and use another 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill. Why? Because that is the way Congress wrote the GI Bill rules.

And you’re are right. For a six-year enlistment, you could get both the Student Loan Repayment Program and the GI Bill, but that is a different situation, with different programs and a different set of rules. When you are talking about being eligible for and using two or more GI Bills, then the Rule of 48 kicks in.

Is it fair? I don’t know, however, I do know the Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most generous GI Bills ever offered to our Nation’s military servicemembers and veterans. And with it transferability, it is also one of the most flexible in that it can be used by spouses and dependent children.

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