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By Declining the GI Bill When I First Came In, Can I Now Get It?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I used the Student Loan Repayment option when I enlisted in 2009. I signed a DD2366 stating I was declining the GI Bill. I have read on here that after the first 3 years I will be entitled to start earning GI Bill benefits, so after 6 years of active duty I will have 100% GI Bill benefits? I feel like the DD2366 will preclude me from the GI Bill. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks in advance – James

A: James, the GI Bill you declined was the Montgomery GI Bill. To get that GI Bill you had to sign up for it and pay the $1,200 “contribution” fee. However, in 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill came into being and that is free to you just for three years of service to your country, plus it doesn’t require any payment of any kind.

When you signed up for SLRP, you incurred a three-year obligation in which during that time you were not acquiring GI Bill eligibility. But since you have six years of service, you have paid back your SLRP obligation and now have 100% vestment in the New GI Bill.

So when you get ready to go to school, you have 36 months of benefits you can use. The VA would pay your tuition and eligible fees directly to your school and you would get a monthly housing allowance and each semester a book stipend (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

If you attend a public school then your tuition is paid up to the resident undergraduate rate. Should you decide to attend a private school, the VA is limited to paying up to $18,077.50 per year in tuition and fees.

Your monthly housing allowance is calculated based on your school zip code and the number of credits you take. Just know that if you take all your classes online, your MHA maxes out at $674 per month.

You book stipend is calculated at $41.67 per credit if you are in a degree-producing program of $83 per month if in a non-degree course.

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