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Based On My Discharges, Am I Still Eligible for the Old GI Bill, New GI Bill or Both?

Q: My question is this: in 2004 I received a completely honorable discharge from the Army. Later, I re-enlisted and I am now expecting to receive a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Am I still eligible for the old GI Bill, New GI Bill or both? Thank you very much for your time.

A: Your first term of service ending with an Honorable discharge locked in your GI Bill benefits, so don’t worry about that. You could be eligible for both the New and old GI Bills, but you would have had to sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you first enlisted. Do you remember doing that and having $100 per month deducted from your monthly income for the first 12 months you served? If so, then you have the MGIB. If not, then most likely you do not have the MGIB.

Having served after September 10, 2001 and up to sometime in 2004, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but depending on when you got out in 2004, you may be at a lesser tier percentage than 100%. It takes three years of service to get to the 100% level.

The New GI Bill is free and does not require a contribution as did the MGIB. But, just so you know, if you do have both GI Bills, you will be subject to the Rule of 48. Under that rule, you can only get a combined maximum number of months of 48 if you qualify for two or more GI Bills. With either GI Bill alone, you would get 36 months.

So assuming you have both, you can either exhaust your 36 months of MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional one-year of benefits, or switch right now to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with your 36 MGIB months intact. The advantage of switching now is to reap the higher payouts under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but then you would not get the additional 12 months of benefits.

If you attend a public school using the Post 9/11 GI Bill , the VA pays your tuition up to the resident rate and you get a monthly housing allowance that is normally more than what you would get under the MGIB, plus under the old GI Bill, you have to pay tuition. Also, if you switch now, you would get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back once you have used up your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

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