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With an Honorable Discharge Date of May 2003, Could I Also Have the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I am currently enrolled and attending MMI (marine mechanics institute) in Orlando Florida. My start date was Oct 4, 2013 and my grad date is Sept 30, 2014. I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill and was curious if I am actually eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I was told by the student services office that I was not, but I’m beginning to wonder if they know what they are talking about. I served in the USAF May 1999 thru May 2003, honorably discharged. If I am eligible would I be able to receive benefits retroactive to my start date?

A: You could have some coverage under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however it might not be as much as your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

Eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill goes back to September 10, 2001, so if you got out in May 2003, the most you would have in entitlement would be 21 months of eligible service. Twenty-one months would put you at the 70% tier.

Now let’s run the number of both GI Bills to see which one is the best one for you to use. Under the MGIB, you should be getting around $1,648 per month.
Out of that amount you have to pay all of your education expenses, such as tuition, fees and books and supplies.

According to the MMI website, they charge $31,300 in tuition for the 12-month course. At $1,648 per month, over the course of the 12 months, you would get about $19,776. The difference of $11,524 would be your responsibility to pay.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 70% of your tuition directly to your school or about $21,910. You would also get 70% of the housing allowance of $1,434 per month. Over the course of 12 months this would be another $12,045. Finally, you would get 70% of the $83 per month book stipend money or another or $697. So if you do the math, the total is $34,652.

So the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be a better deal for you even at the 70% tier. As far as getting retro pay back to your start date, you should be able to as the VA can go back as far as one year.

Check with your VA Certifying Official at your school to see what would be the best way to go about switching GI Bills and requesting back pay.

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