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Can I Convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Get the 18 Months I Have Left Plus the Additional Months?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am qualified for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the new GI Bill. I have used about half of my old GI Bill and am considering changing to the new GI Bill since it would pay me more. But I read that if I use all of old GI Bill, I can get another 12 months of new GI Bill. Can I convert now and get the 18 months I have left plus the additional 12 months or do I have to use the old GI Bill completely first?

A: The way the GI Bills are set up, you have to use up all your Montgomery BI Bill GI Bill (MGIB) benefits first, then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months of benefits. I know it is goofy, but those are the rules.

Since the GI Bill 2.0 change in August, the Post 9/11 GI Bill almost mirrors the old MGIB as far as what each pays, so unless you are at the 60% or less Post 9/11 GI Bill tier, you most likely would be better off using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

If you use your remaining MGIB benefits, you would get $1,473 per month and you have to pay your own tuition, fees and other education-related expenses. If you switch to the New GI Bill with 18 months of your MGIB left, the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school. You will also get a housing allowance almost as much as your MGIB payment, plus you’ll get a book stipend once each semester calculated at $41.67 per credit.

The housing allowance averages $1,300 per month across the U.S. If you attend school on either the East or West Coast, it can be twice that amount. So it comes down to whether you want the higher payout or the additional 12 months of education benefits.

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