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As Far As the GI Bills are Concerned, What Is My Best Option to Pay for My Master’s Degree?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I got my A.A. at a Jr college in Florida before I entered into the military. I am currently using my Chapter 30 GI Bill to finish my B.A. in Nutritional Science from Kaplan University. As it stands I will graduate this Oct. just 3 months shy of 2 years. I’ve read where I can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill for furthering my education. I’ve also read where the VA has a rule of 48, so given that I only used Chapter 30 for a little under two years, I’m planning on taking, if I can, all online classes to finish. Is there a benefit to one over the other? I’ve also read that I only get 50% of the BAH if I go all online. If I take one class on campus am I able to get 100%? Thanks for any info you can give. — Andrew

A: Unfortunately Andrew, to get the additional 12 months of entitlement under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to first expend all of your Chapter 30 benefits. If you transfer now with 19 months of Montgomery GI Bill benefits left, you will only get 19 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and not the additional 12 months. That is just how it works.

As far as your best option to get your master’s degree, it most likely would be the Post 9/11 GI Bill and here’s why. As you know, graduate tuition is outrageously expensive. So if your can get your GI Bill to pick up that cost, it would benefit you greatly. Under the Chapter 30, it would pay you up to $1,648 per month, but you have to pay your own tuition, fees and books; you would have considerable out-of-pocket expenses.

However under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition directly to your school. For a public school, that is at the resident rate at your tier percentage; for a private school it is up to $19,198.31 per year. And you would get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once per semester (until you reached your annual cap of $1,000).

By attending all online classes, your monthly housing allowance would be limited to a maximum of $714.50. And yes, by attending one class per semester that you can apply towards your degree plan at a local campus, you could get the full housing allowance authorized for the zip code of your local school. The book stipend calculates up to $41.67 per credit.

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