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Can I Apply for My Post 9/11 GI Bill Before I Get Out?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good morning! I was wondering if it was possible since I EAS in August of 2014 to apply for my Post 9/11 GI Bill early so I could have everything set up and ready so that I would be able to start school in September directly after I get out?

A: Not really and here is why. If this is the only tour you have had (and I suspect it is), then you don’t have a DD-214 yet which is required before the VA can authorize your GI Bill benefits. They have to know that you have a fully Honorable discharge in order to use your benefits and that information comes off of your DD-214.

However, with that said, you should still be able to request your Certificate of Eligibility once you are out and get it in time to start school in September. Since going to their new software, the VA has gotten a lot quicker at processing GI Bill applications. I think their time is like down to 22 days for new first-time users; about 6 days for repeat users.

Once you get your Certificate of Eligibility, hand in a copy of it when you register for school. That tells the school you are a GI Bill student and gets the ball rolling for them to get your tuition paid by the VA and for you to start getting your housing allowance and book stipend.

The book stipend you should see sometime during the first month you are in school; it calculates at $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 yearly cap. Being the VA pays one month in arrears, you most likely won’t see your first Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance payment until sometime in October. It is based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. The U.S. average is about $1,300 per month.

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