Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
The Montgomery GI Bill is a popular military education program that provides education benefits to servicemembers. The Montgomery GI Bill has two major options:
- Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (MGIB-AD), which is available to those who earned the bill through active duty service
- Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), which is available to those who earn it through service in the Reserves or National Guard.
The best known of these options is the MGIB-AD option. The Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty does not automatically apply to all servicemembers, although most have the opportunity to enroll in the program. In order to be eligible for the bill's benefits, a servicemember must elect to participate in the program when he or she initially enlists. In addition, the servicemember must pay in a contribution of $100 per month for the first year of active duty service, for a total contribution of $1,200.
Servicemembers can use the MGIB-AD either while on active duty or after leaving the military. The MGIB-AD provides a monthly payment that is adjusted annually. If used while on active duty, it is limited to paying the amount of the tuition and fees for the course. The benefit can also be combined with a service's Tuition Assistance (TA) program in the form of Tuition Assistance "Top-Up," in which case it covers the portion of the expenses that are not covered by TA.
Who Is Eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill?
In addition to electing the bill when first enlisting, the servicemember must serve a minimum of 3 years, or 2 years if he initially enlisted for a 2-year contract. If the servicemember leaves the military, he or she must have an honorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge, or a general discharge, even if it is "under honorable conditions," does not qualify a servicemember for the GI Bill.
What Does the Montgomery GI Bill Cover?
The MGIB-AD pays for any courses that are authorized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This includes most accredited universities. Look up the education program on the Weams Institution Search, a database on the VA website, to determine if the program is authorized. The MGIB-AD covers traditional academic degrees as well as most vocational work, as long as it is listed in the database. In addition, many licenses and certifications are authorized for funding as well. These are funded retroactively in that if the student pays for the license or certification test, he or she can apply for reimbursement after completing it.
How Much Does the Montgomery GI Bill Cover?
The amount provided monthly by the MGIB-AD is a flat rate, which is adjusted annually based on the change in the cost of education and cost of living. The 2010 rate is $1,426 for institutional students attending school full-time, according to the standards of their university. Students attending less than full time receive less, as do students attending non-traditional degree programs, such as vocational programs.
How Long Does the Montgomery GI Bill Last?
The MGIB-AD provides benefits for 36 months of study. In addition, the MGIB-AD has a 10-year delimiting period--meaning that a veteran must use the benefits within 10 years after he or she last leaves active duty. After 10 years, remaining benefits are lost. The VA can provide extensions of this delimiting period in some situations, including a medical disability that prevents a veteran from going to school. Also, if a student returns to active duty, the delimiting period is reset to begin at the most recent end of active duty service. This is true even if the 10-year period is already expired.
How Do I Apply for the Montgomery GI Bill?
Servicemembers and veterans wishing to apply to use their GI Bill benefits can do so through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA's website provides a convenient online application process. Servicemembers can also apply by mail.
Transfer of Educational Benefits for Army Soldiers
The U.S. Army currently has a program that allows soldiers to transfer some or all of their Montgomery GI Bill benefits to a spouse or dependent child. The solder must have served at least 6 years, and must agree to serve 4 years after the transfer is approved.