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Am I Eligible for Any Education Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

I was commissioned in June, 1981, reported for active duty in November, 1981 and retired in October, 2002 as a Navy Commander (honorable discharge). I did not contribute any $$$$ to any educational programs while on active duty. Am I eligible for ANY education benefits from the government? Thank you so much.

Yes you are Sir! With 12 months of active duty time after September 10, 2001, you would have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 60% level meaning the VA would pay your school directly up to 60% of the in-state maximum for your tuition and fees and you would get 60% of the monthly housing allowance and book stipend. You would be responsible to pay the 40% difference.

The housing allowance is based on the zip code of your school and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents. Sixty percent of the $1,000 national average would amount to $600 per month with that amount being about double on the East and West Coast and a little less in the Midwest. The book stipend is paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit up to $1,000 per year; you would get 60% of this amount, or $25 per credit, up to $600 per year.

The one option you will not have is the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option for two reasons. One is you have to be at the 100% level to make a transfer and two you had to be on active duty on or after August 1, 2009 to request a transfer of benefits. But at least you have some education benefits that you can use for yourself. Keep in mind the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a 15-year shelf life, so your benefits will expire in 2017.

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