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As a National Guard Soldier Now In the IRR, Am I Still Eligible to Use the Reserve GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I was a member of the Army National Guard from 3/2005 to 3/2011. I am now currently on IRR. I am looking at going back to school and would like to use my GI Bill but I don’t understand if I qualify or not. I believe I was told that I am eligible for the selected Reserve GI Bill with the kicker when I enlisted but now that I have been discharged in good standing will the GI Bill still pay for my schooling?

A: No your Reserve GI Bill, also known as the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), will not pay for your schooling. The MGIB-SR is unique in that it expires on the day of your discharge from the National Guard. So unless you have another GI Bill you can use, you have nothing in the way of a GI Bill to pay for school.

However, if you deployed on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, you may have some eligibility under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). A one-year deployment, which is common in the Guard, would get you 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 60% tier or $988.80 under REAP as a full-time student.

Under REAP, you have to pay all your own education expenses out of your monthly amount. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition is paid directly to your school by the VA and you get a monthly housing allowance that can be at least what you get under REAP or more (even at the 60% tier) and once per semester a book stipend.

If your deployment was before August 1, 2009, then your coverage would be under REAP, however, you may do better under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Converting to the Post 9/11 GI Bill is as easy as filling out VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.

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